Buckingham Palace has relaxed the rules restricting souvenir merchandising for the April 29 wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, with odd results. Procter & Gamble (PG), for instance, has received permission to make a commemorative royal wedding version of Fairy Liquid, but the palace's rules ban royal wedding aprons, tea-towels, or anything else one might use in conjunction with Fairy. (While Fairy is a premium brand in the U.K., in the U.S. it is sold as the decidedly ordinary Dreft.)
The rules officially require companies to use only approved images of the prince and his fiancee. They must also be:
(a) In good taste.T-shirts and tea-towels are specifically banned:
(b) Free from any form of advertisement.
(c) Carry no implication of Royal custom or approval.
With the exception of carpets, cushions, wall hangings and head scarves, Royal Devices MAY NOT be used on textiles (which includes articles of clothing, including T-shirts, drying up cloths and aprons).Of course, the rules will be widely ignored. In the U.K., the souvenir tea-towel is a celebrated tradition. Neighbors compete to shock each other with the ugliest, most tasteless tea-towel they can find. (See a spectacular one from the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, above right.)
The palace tea-towel ban is all the more silly because it's actually an attempt to create a tea-towel monopoly for is own "official" towel, which will be "tasteful" -- a plain white linen item with the initials of Catherine and William intertwined and the prince's coronet.
The Centre for Retail Research estimates that royal wedding junk will provide a Â£515.5m boost to the U.K. economy. Here is BNET's top 10 worst souvenirs on the market so far:
- "Crown Jewels," the royal wedding condoms. "Crown Jewels condoms promise a royal union of pleasure."
- The Royal Wedding for Dummies, yet another edition of the Wiley Publishing guide line.
- The Royal Wedding sick bag, for when you've had enough.
- Royal wedding iPhone apps -- at least 10 of them so far.
- Brass knuckle engagement rings, "for the belligerent bride."
- A Catherine Middleton doll, another "collector's item" from The Franklin Mint.
- The William & Kate fridge, which at least uses the official portrait.
- Royal wedding beef 'n' bacon pie. There's a dash of brandy in it, too.
- Royal wedding beer, "Kiss Me Kate" and "Windsor Knot" are two variants.
- Royal wedding iPhone cover, all in the best possible taste.