LONDON — There are fridge magnets, tea sets and flags. And of course mugs, t-shirts and sweatshirts with the image of Queen Elizabeth II on which are inscribed the dates of her 70 years of reign: 1952-2022.
Just days after the death of Britain’s longest-serving monarch, unofficial souvenirs have been rolled out in royal-themed gift shops in London and online marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy.
Cool Britannia, a shop selling UK-themed souvenirs opposite Buckingham Palace, pushed its suppliers to work overnight to have the souvenirs ready by Saturday, just two days after the Queen died, said store manager Ismayil Ibrahim. Items depicting the new monarch, King Charles III, were also on their way to Ibrahim’s shop, where tourists bought other royal gifts like queen figurines and rubber duckies wearing crowns.
Official goods will, however, take longer to arrive at approved sellers, who have suspended sales of royal memorabilia out of respect for the period of mourning.
Based on strong customer demand for gifts for the Queen’s recent Platinum Jubilee celebrating her seven decades on the throne, Ibrahim anticipates even greater interest in memorabilia commemorating her life and death.
“People kept asking us, ‘Do you still have anything?’ Ibrahim said.
So he quickly stocked up on t-shirts and mugs saying ‘Forever in our hearts’ and ‘Gone but not forgotten’, bearing a portrait of the Queen as a young woman. Another version carried portraits of the Queen young and old with the words: “Queen Elizabeth II – The greatest reign 1952-2022”.
There was a steady stream of tourists browsing the store on Monday, and two others nearby, though few bought the items commemorating his reign.
Lorenzo Corbani, an Italian living in Bath, England, bought a solar-powered figurine of the queen for his mother, who was a huge fan.
“She felt she was a great woman,” Corbani, 35, said.
Unofficial giveaways have also spread quickly online. Sellers on eBay are already selling King Charles III mugs, badges, fridge magnets and keychains that say “God Save The King”. Amazon sellers are similarly flogging and hastily churning out royal merchandise like Union Jack flags emblazoned with Charles’s portrait, decals and posters commemorating the life of Queen Elizabeth II. There’s even a pet bandana with the dates of his reign.
At Majestic Gifts near Buckingham Palace, Paul Callaghan splurged on a box of Platinum Jubilee English breakfast tea bearing the Queen’s picture for 15 pounds ($17.50), which he said was a single purchase.
“It’s not cheap, but it’s limited. This will never happen again,” said Callaghan, 35, who works in financial services and was visiting London from Dublin.
Now that the queen is dead, he decided to buy a souvenir “before all stocks are exhausted”.
“Because, again, it’s something quite historic. You’ll never see a queen live that long or reign that long,” Callaghan said. “And not only that, but we’re probably not going to have another queen for another century.”
There will likely be a high demand for memorabilia from King Charles III, and sellers of unofficial royal merchandise like Ibrahim are poised to take advantage of it, raising questions about copyright. But the royal family is unlikely to take legal action, according to a trademark lawyer.
“Given the fascination with the monarchy, it would be a full-time job to stop unlicensed goods,” said Charlotte Wilding, partner at Wedlake Bell law firm.
“I suspect the Royal Family is of the view that they would rather not punish the general public for their ‘support,’ even though that support may not be in the right form,” Wilding said via email. mail. “Bad press is simply not something the Royal Family wants to be part of or risks being part of, even if they are legally entitled to it.”
In the meantime, official vendors of royal gifts are observing a 10-day mourning period. One of them, the Royal Collection Trust, which manages public access to the Queen’s residences, said on its website that its stores had closed in London, Windsor and Edinburgh and that online sales of items like Buckingham Palace magnets had been suspended.
Without official items to hang, Judy Kline, a 74-year-old tourist from suburban Detroit, spent £32 on souvenirs at a tourist shop in London’s famous Piccadilly Circus, including several blue and white fridge magnets adorned with the portrait of the Queen.
“I have friends who are very envious of not taking this trip with us. I wanted to give them a little token,” Kline said.
Kline said she felt a certain affinity with the royal family and wanted to buy King Charles III memorabilia, but would leave before anyone arrived in the souvenir shops and stalls.
“The prince – I mean the king – is a year younger than me. So I saw him as a little kid, and he was like my peer, you know? Kline said. “And then their grandkids are just a little bit younger than our grandkids.”
Associated Press writer Danica Kirka contributed from London.
Follow all AP stories about the British Royal Family at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii.