There are kits to help you crochet a miniature Queen Elizabeth wearing the dress and hat of your choice of color, t-shirts of her likeness and “never complain, never explain” – a saying that would have been adopted by her late mother – and limited-edition Mattel Barbie dolls were released in honor of her 96th birthday and platinum jubilee, selling for up to $6,600 on eBay.
The growing demand to own these items offers a glimpse of a royal memorabilia industry that has surged in the wake of the British monarch’s death and is going from strength to strength as the world continues its 10 days of mourning leading up to her funeral on Monday .
While many are apathetic about the end of his 70-year reign and King Charles’s accession to the throne and others consider cashing in on the moment unpleasant, some of the family’s Canadian fans seem eager to mark his 96 years of life and the change of power by owning or making commemorative objects.
“It’s a keepsake,” said Jonara Oliveira, who runs an Etsy shop selling embroidery hoops featuring the queen and one of her beloved corgis.
“People buy to have that reminder of the figure she was and when.”
Oliveira, an illustrator from Surrey, British Columbia originally from Brazil, got the idea for the royal hoops when she discovered the queen to prepare for her citizenship test.
She started selling them ahead of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June, and sales were strong but sagged in the weeks that followed.
Demand skyrocketed again when the Queen died on September 8. Last week, she sold four times the average of the last six months and searches for her products increased by 110%. Visits to his shop are now even higher than during the jubilee.
Canada Post observed a similar trend with the Platinum Jubilee stamps it issued in the winter.
Compared to the five weeks leading up to Sept. 8, sales of silver stamps are up 900% over the past week, Canada Post spokeswoman Lisa Liu said.
“For context, these stamps first went on sale in February, so sales had leveled off before that,” she wrote in an email. “However, we have certainly seen an increase in sales since Her Majesty’s passing.”
The surge in royal trinkets came as no surprise to David Soberman, as the Queen’s death is a “colossal” event that most people have never experienced.
“It marks the longest reign in British history and it’s pretty, pretty amazing when you think about it,” said the professor of marketing at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
“People think they’re not going to make these (items) anymore because she’s not the queen anymore and they would like to have something to remember her by.”
However, palace-approved kitsch is currently limited as the Royal Collection Shop, the usual way of selling royal family commemorative coins, has been offline for several days.
Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Primark, UK stores known for selling royal merchandise, have yet to release any Queen-related products. Soberman suspects they want to avoid being perceived as being in “bad taste” during the mourning period.
But other online marketplaces are teeming with royal wares.
Kijiji has dozens of active listings for royal memorabilia and since Sept. 8 has averaged 2,000 searches per day for keywords related to ‘Queen Elizabeth’ across Canada, said Kent Sikstrom, head of of Kijiji Canada Community Relations, in an email.
He added that the searches represented an increase from recent months, when Kijiji saw “little to no activity” related to the Queen.
Leslie Walsh, eBay Canada’s communications manager, declined to share search or sales data related to royal products “out of respect” for the Queen, the Royal Family and mourners. Still, her website showed more than 73,000 articles related to the late monarch and thousands were listed in the days following her death.
Market listings show a mix of traditional wares like Royal Doulton figurines, special edition coins and stamps as well as more original goods.
There are rubber duckies topped with a crown, queen bobbleheads, holiday ornaments emblazoned with her initials, and even tea bags made to look like she’s taking a bath in your mug.
If the late monarch isn’t your cup of tea, there are condoms, coloring books, socks, bow ties, Pez dispensers and even a cereal called Harry and Meghan’s wedding rings from the prince’s wedding. Harry, the Queen’s grandson.
Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton, now Princess of Wales, generated a Swarovski crystal-encrusted Ring Pop inspired by his sapphire engagement rock, New Balance sneakers stitched with their names on the tongue and beers, quilts and vomit bags.
But not all royal merchandise has value, Soberman warned. Limited-edition items like Barbies can fetch big, but stock stamps and coins aren’t worth much.
That won’t deter people from spending, he predicted.
Between celebrations, souvenirs, books and tourism, the Center for Retail Research in Norfolk, England, estimated William and Kate’s nuptials generated ┬ú407 million in sales, while Harry and Meaghan’s nuptials boosted ┬ú83 million and the birth of the future king, Prince George, made ┬ú ú259 million.
All are overshadowed by the most recent jubilee, which was to trigger ┬ú408.29 million in spending.
The Queen’s death may even top Jubilee sales simply because of the memorable feelings it elicits, Soberman said.
“It’s almost like she’s still there…and so when you say it’s over…it creates destabilization and it makes things emotional.”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 17, 2022.