Royal wedding kitsch takes tacky to new levels

Just what you always wanted!

Prince William and Kate Middleton Pez dispensers. Tea bags and nail decals. Prophylactics called "Crown Jewels, condoms of distinction."

Today's royal wedding has crushed us with kitsch.

Things were tacky when Prince Charles and Diana got married, sure. Who can forget those stately commemorative salt and pepper shakers?

But now we're in a faster, savvier society where everyone knows everything. Even official wedding plans are chronicled for the public on a slick blog. While Buckingham Palace banned cheap memorabilia, including tea towels, T-shirts and biscuit tins, the masses produced waves of unofficial weirdness. Decorative wall plates and commemorative stamps, while still around, are pedestrian compared to the oddities on Etsy and Craigslist and eBay.

There's Kiss Me Kate beer. A barf bag that says Throne up — Keep this handy on April 29, 2011. An iPhone case covered in Swarovski. A side-by-side portrait refrigerator, a chunk of Will's head taken out by the ice maker.

Dunkin' Donuts made heart-shaped confections. Papa John's made a terrifying pizza likeness, Kate's hair in olives and Will's in ham. The Royal Breakfast Company made Will's Royal O's and Special Kate's cereal.

There's a commemorative hanky for $49. A No More Waity, Katie lip gloss for $18. A William and Kate Lifetime movie on DVD for $19.95.

There are bed sheets. Sheets.

The British commercialism has trickled to American shops. Michaels craft stores in St. Petersburg and Clearwater sold out of the famous sapphire engagement ring knockoffs this week. Four remained at the Pinellas Park store Wednesday night. "No Prince Required" read the box, sandwiched between candy bars and coloring books.

Price? $9.99.

This stuff is virtually worthless, appraisers say. The market is too saturated and the collectables are too new. Real value lies in misprinted items and age.

"They have so much over there right now, it's unbelievable," said Hazel Hanlon, an antiques dealer for 40 years and owner of Mayfair Antiques in Tampa. "Collectibles become really collectible the older they get. Anything from around when Queen Elizabeth got married, they're more valuable."

But even that is relative.

On eBay, two 1947 envelopes commemorating the wedding of H.R.H. Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh fetch $4. An original copy of the Illustrated London News with pictures from that wedding goes for $49.99.

In 1981, Tampa commercial real estate agent JoAnn Ferlita walked into an ABC Fine Wine and Spirits and paid $100 for champagne marking the wedding of Charles and Diana. She wasn't a royal wedding freak. It was more of a whim. "We stuck it in the wine cooler and just left it there," she said.

When Prince William put a ring on it, she decided to list the Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Royal Celebration Cuvee on Craigslist. She set a price of $200 and wrote a disclaimer: "The value of the item is in the collectible container, not its contents."

"I'm not even sure the champagne is good," she said.

In London, souvenirs fill every shop. Wendy Brant, who moved to Tampa from England years ago, went back recently. She picked up a William and Kate pillow and a tote bag because they'd fit nicely in her luggage.

But … did she really want them?

Both went on Craigslist for $21.

"You're bound to get compliments, envied and asked if you went to London for the Royal Wedding Celebration," she wrote.

Brant, who runs a website for single baby boomers, said some Brits have royal wedding fatigue. But being in the states has made her feel differently.

"It makes me proud to know that on the television it's all about London and England," she said. "I love to watch it and have my kids watch it."

She isn't too concerned with making money. If someone wants her pillow for less, she'd hear an offer. It's a wise attitude, because come Saturday the value of kitsch is likely to plummet even further.

In fact, it has already started.

Those $10 rings at Michaels? You could buy a set of 25 on eBay for $40.

Did you sleep through it?

Couldn't wake up in time to see William walk Kate down the aisle? No worries; we've got you covered. For recaps, reviews of Kate's dress, reactions and photos from local wedding-watching parties and so much more, see tampabay.com.

Royal wedding kitsch takes tacky to new levels 04/28/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 28, 2011 5:57pm]

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