When online retailer Camila Prada invited Britons to “commemorate your indifference” to this week’s royal wedding by purchasing a jokey bone-china mug, she got so many orders that PayPal Inc. almost closed the account.
“I was just sitting at my computer freaking out,” Prada, a 34-year-old Canadian, said in an interview. “My account went from zero to 10,000 pounds ($16,000) in a week and a half.”
While Prince William’s marriage to Kate Middleton may draw more than a half million visitors to London and spark thousands of street parties across the country on April 29, about a third of the population will try their best to ignore the occasion, according to a poll by YouGov Plc.
Prada isn’t the only entrepreneur to tap demand for unconventional souvenirs. Lydia Leith, for example, is selling royal wedding-themed sickness bags in red, blue, purple and gold through her website. A pair costs about 8 pounds and features a cartoon of the royal couple framed by the slogans “throne up” and “keep this handy on April 29th, 2011.”
“I heard people saying ‘I’m sick of hearing about this bloody royal wedding’ because it had been on the news so much, and that was at Christmas,” Leith, 24, said in an interview. The graphic designer from Cumbria, northern England, has sold about 8,000 bags, each of which are hand-signed.
‘Couldn’t Care Less’
Prada says her Tamworth, England-based company, Sorry But, sold almost all of the 15-pound mugs with the slogan: “I couldn’t care less about the royal wedding.” About 90 percent of her buyers came from the U.K.
The jump in sales prompted online payment service PayPal to ask Prada to provide documents proving her business is legitimate.
Visit London, the city’s official tourism agency, estimates that about 1.1 million people will visit the capital on April 29, about 600,000 more than usual. The marriage may add as much as 620 million pounds to the economy in tourism revenue and sales of food and drink, according to Verdict Research, a retail analysis unit of Datamonitor Plc.
Alternative attractions include a “Not the Royal Wedding” street party organized by Republic, a group that espouses the view that the U.K. shouldn’t have a monarchy at all. Graham Smith, a spokesman, said about 500 people are expected to attend the event on Red Lion Square near the Holborn subway station, including campaigners against Europe’s other monarchies in countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands.
“It’s a fun and positive way to show that we want to get rid of the monarchy and have a full-blooded democracy in this country,” Smith said.
Some countries want to break up the monarchy in other ways. On the Polynesian island of Niue, a Commonwealth nation about 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles) east of New Zealand, inhabitants can buy a stamp depicting the prince and the bride. The stamp contains a perforated line, so it can be split into two halves. William’s half costs NZ$3.40 ($2.73), while Kate’s costs a dollar less.