Barbies, beer fridges and collectables have Britons opening their wallets for the Queen’s Jubilee


The celebrations marking Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee are expected to inject a royally large boost into Britain’s economy – up to C$1.6 billion, according to some estimates.

And a sizeable nugget of that amount has already landed in Stuart Morris’ printing works near the town of Ipswich in eastern England.

Over the past few months, its printing machines have produced an assortment of Jubilee-themed tea towels, aprons and other souvenirs to commemorate the Queen’s unprecedented 70 years on the British throne.

“The Jubilee has certainly given us a boost,” said Morris, who for the past 40 years has run an 18-employee print and design business in the village of Hadleigh.

“I would say that at this time of year, [the Jubilee] resulted in a 30% increase in our production,” he said.

“We’ve done tea towels, we’ve done tote bags, shopping bags, we’ve done aprons, we’ve done related ceramics, which we do with another company, and silk scarves.”

Stuart Morris holds up a souvenir tea towel from his printing press in Hadleigh, near Ipswich, England, which is made to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. (Lily Martin/CBC)

On the day a CBC News team visited earlier this week, Morris’ team was pulling out tens of thousands of commemorative tea towels emblazoned with images of a young and older Elizabeth.

Commissioned by the Daily Mail newspaper and intended as freebies for readers, Morris said the contract was worth £80,000 or C$140,000.

Regent Street in London has been decorated with British flags to mark the Queen’s Jubilee. (Chris Brown/CBC)

Jubilees “seem to get bigger every 10 years. So hopefully there will be another,” he said with a laugh, acknowledging that planning another celebration for the Queen, who is 96, in five or 10 years, might be a bit of a stretch.

One of Britain’s biggest retailers confirms the popularity of Jubilee-themed items.

  • LOOK – CBC News Special: The Queen’s Jubilee, Trooping the Colour, June 2, 5 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. ET on CBC-TV, CBC News Network and CBC Gem

Department store John Lewis reports that its limited edition Barbie Signature Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Doll sold out in just three minutes.

Online searches for other items to mark the Jubilee holiday long weekend also increased, including a 56% increase in people looking to buy beer fridges, the retailer said in an e-mail. email to CBC News.

Michael Josem of Brand Finance, a brand and business valuation consultancy in London, says “the Monarchy offers excellent value for money”. (Lily Martin/CBC)

Valuation expert Michael Josem, of London-based Brand Finance, calculated the C$1.6 billion figure for Jubilee revenue based on merchandise sales from previous celebrations and analyzing visitor spikes. associated with past royal festivities.

“The Monarchy offers excellent value for money,” Josem told CBC News in an interview.

“We estimate that around 1% of UK tourism expenditure is related to the monarchy. And it’s not just people who come just to see Buckingham Palace, but rather, to see the different palaces, to see the theater of it all as part of the rest of their tourism.”

Overall, Brand Finance calculates the total revenue generated by the Monarchy in a Jubilee year at around £3.5 billion, or C$5.5 billion.

Staff at Morris’s print and design factory are busy printing souvenir tea towels. Even after the Jubilee long weekend, there will be months of work to create cloth napkins, tote bags and other collectible keepsakes. (Lily Martin/CBC)

The revenue is offset by costs to UK taxpayers which Josem estimates at around £500m or C$800m.

This figure includes what is known as the Sovereign Grant provided by British taxpayers of £85.9 million, which includes money to maintain and upgrade Buckingham Palace. The rest of the expenses come from security, personnel and other costs involving members of the royal family.

  • LOOK – CBC News Special: The Queen’s Jubilee, A Service of Thanksgiving, June 3, 5:30-9 a.m. ET on CBC-TV, CBC News Network and CBC Gem.

In addition, Bloomberg Economy reports that the additional public holiday associated with the Jubilee celebrations will reduce the country’s GDP by half a percent due to lost factory output and office closures.

Yet the consensus in the travel industry is that the extra-long Jubilee weekend offers British citizens and their neighbors another reason to travel again, particularly after the sustained downturn caused by COVID-19.

Graham Smith, CEO of Republic, stands next to one of his organization’s anti-monarchy billboards in Reading, England. (Lily Martin/CBC)

A survey of Visit England revealed that 5.3 million people plan to take an overnight break at some point during the Jubilee – and up to 19 million people will take part in some aspect of the celebrations, including going out at some of the 16,000 street parties be hosted nationwide over the next five days.

Still, critics of the monarchy see a lot of guesswork in the financial figures and doubt the dollar value of the Queen and her family is as powerful as brand evaluators believe.

“The numbers are fantastic”

“These numbers are fanciful,” said Graham Smith, CEO of Republic, a lobby group that is pushing to replace Britain’s monarch with an elected president.

“We challenged VisitBritain who promote Britain as an overseas destination, and they rarely mention the Royal Family as a key part of their promotional material,” Smith said.

“And they admitted that if we get rid of the monarchy, there’s no evidence that tourism will go down.”

A painting of the Queen on the side of a building in Hadleigh. (Ashley Meneely/CBC)

Republic marks the Jubilee by installing a dozen billboards across the country, with the slogan “Make Elizabeth the last”.

The slogan is printed on an eye-catching plain red background which also features images of heir to the throne Prince Charles, the next Prince William with Prince Andrew, the Queen’s second son.

Andrew recently settled a civil sexual abuse case with Virginia Guiffre, who accused the prince of assaulting her when she was 17.

His legal troubles led to Andrew being stripped of his royal duties, although he is due to be seen publicly later this week during Jubilee festivities.

On a Republic billboard visited by CBC News near the town of Reading, outside London, Andrew’s face had been ripped off.

A man sells goods outside a shop near Windsor Castle in Windsor on Tuesday, ahead of the weekend’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London. (Tom Nicholson/Reuters)

Smith said he didn’t know who was responsible for the vandalism of the sign, but it was important to put Andrew’s face on the billboards.

“He’s on the poster for a reason. It’s that when the Queen is gone, Andrew, William and Charles will be the only royals anyone can think of.”

“Charles is not particularly popular. William is annoying everyone. And Andrew is still facing serious charges for which he paid £12m to avoid trial.”

The Queen may be celebrating 70 years on the throne, but this tea towel depicting one of her pet corgis is a bestseller for Morris. (Lily Martin/CBC)

A survey released earlier this year showed that 22% of those polled believed Britain would be better off if the monarchy was abolished – a 7% increase on four years earlier.

Yet more than double that number – 46% – said they thought Britain would be worse off without the royal family.

In Reading, down the street from the poster, people CBC News spoke to seemed relatively ambivalent about the future of the royal family – but fully in favor of the long weekend set aside to celebrate the long reign of the queen.

“Well, every country now needs tourism after what’s happened in the last two years of COVID,” said Simon Mallock.


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