I’m not proud of the amount I spent on royal wedding shit, but nor am I entirely ashamed. Come on—how many royal weddings am I going to attend? This is both true, and my justification for purchasing way too much (wonderful) junk.
First off, let’s just acknowledge the whole category of purchases made specifically for my night outside in the damp English chill, waiting for Harry and Meghan. For instance, I bought this navy cotton cardigan at Marks and Spencer. I should have purchased a fleece zip-up instead, but this filled a hole in my wardrobe. I also got a pack of socks that were way too thin for my purposes, but really are very nice and soft.
In that same vein, my marquee souvenir from this trip is something I never would have bought if I had planned worth a damn: A fleece Union Jack blanket. It’s ridiculous, and I’m pretty sure it’s available for $34.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond. The most high-rolling kid in class would have bought the American equivalent on a sixth grade trip to Washington. I can’t believe this thing took up space in my luggage that could have gone to history books. But I am also going to laugh happily at myself every time I look at it for years to come.
I did also purchase a number of traditional royal wedding souvenir items. I got a mug cheerfully emblazoned with “When Harry Met Meghan,” and a tea bag coaster featuring the happy couple’s faces, and a commemorative tin of shortbread that I will of course save to store gadget chargers even when I should really just toss it. (Gifts for other people have been redacted so as not to SPOIL SURPRISES.) I foolishly failed to purchase enough commemorative tea towels while in Windsor and all the gift shops near Buckingham Palace had sold out—except for the fancy official store. So I basically just filled my tote bag with this beauty, which is a genuinely lovely shade of blue that reminds me of a Georgian drawing room. It was merely a pound or so more than other, campier options!
I also made it home with at least one copy of OK with the headline, “Harry & Meghan Wedding Fever!” It promises to contain a royal wedding poster.
My only real regret is that I did not purchase a leather bookmark celebrating the occasion to add to my collection, which also includes leather bookmarks from Jane Austen territory, Bronte country, and Glastonbury.
My biggest outlay—surprise, surprise!—was at a bookstore. I successfully wrested myself from the Waterstones at Trafalgar Square only to get sucked into Hatchards, which has been in business since 1797 and appears in lots of historical romance novels. I bought a pretty print copy of Georgette Heyer’s Frederica (the one with the hot air balloon), The Husband Hunters (nonfiction about all the girls who married into the British aristocracy), and Entitled: A Critical History of the British Aristocracy (which I particularly enjoyed buying at a place that holds multiple royal warrants). By the time I got to Daunt Books, I was out of spending money and room in my luggage, the only reasons I didn’t buy another five books and one of their tote bags, which are rapidly replacing the New Yorker tote as a status symbol. And of course let’s not forget my best literary purchase: Rainbow Magic: Meghan the Wedding Sparkle Fairy, a book for young readers.
Lastly there was the category of “shit, I’m kinda on vacation” purchases. I got an Arts and Crafts-style tea towel (covered in birds) at the V&A Museum of Childhood; I bought a little fabric pencil case in this vintage Kensington Palace print, which I will probably use for lipsticks. At Fortnum & Mason, I got a tin of prettily packaged Queen’s Blend coffee—named for Alexandra, not Elizabeth II—in no small part because once it’s empty the container is going to make a lovely addition to my collection of containers. Also, a burlap tote bag in which I ultimately carried the giant pile of snacks I purchased for the Jezebel team.
Despite the fact that Emma Bridgewater is known for their commemorative royal products and got an incredible amount of press over the course of this wedding, I initially skipped over their Harry and Meghan products for a tea towel covered in garden birds of England and a Henry VIII mug. I was satisfied with my choice—until I went to the Museum of London and saw a commemorative plate from the reign of Elizabeth I that looked awfully similar and realized that people have been making commemorative pottery in this style for hundreds of years, at which point I couldn’t leave London without buying one.
On my last day, I tried three stores before finally finding some remaining mugs at the fourth, Liberty of London, thanks to a lead from a very stylish older woman at the Emma Bridgewater store in Marylebone. They had a small display left, including one—ONE!—with the really old-fashioned looking hand-applied sponge-ware design. I’m a mark, and it’s fine!
Really it worked out in the end, because I got to see Liberty of London, which is the most incredible piece of mock Tudor 1920s ye olde architectural cosplay I’ve ever encountered, but also I was out of spending money, so I couldn’t blow my entire budget for the trip on 37 yards of whimsical floral print Liberty of London fabric.
My biggest regret: I didn’t purchase a highly nerdy throw pillow. I considered this “history of fashion” one at Kensington Palace, but just didn’t have room. Really, museums all over London have great cushions that would make great additions to my home. Anybody got ideas for things Jezebel just has to cover in London?