One analyst expects souvenir sales to rise by £60m ($69m) – Copyright AFP/File Tolga AKMEN
Véronique DUPONT, Olivier DEVOS
British business paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II on Friday, with department stores closed, flags flown at half mast, clocks stopped and meetings postponed, but souvenir sales soared outside Buckingham Palace as well-wishers crowded.
London’s iconic Selfridges, the capital’s Oxford Street shopping street and nearby Liberty Street on Regent Street have closed out of respect for the country’s oldest monarch, who died on Thursday.
Many corporate headquarters have flown flags at half-mast, and the Bank of England has postponed its interest rate meeting until after the funeral.
Fortnum and Mason, tea supplier to the royal family, was closed and even stopped the clock on the front of its luxury department store in London’s Piccadilly.
“We are proud to have received a warrant from Her Majesty since 1954 and have served her and the royal court throughout her life,” the F&M website says.
“As a token of our deep respect, we have half-mast our flag and stopped the clock on the facade of Piccadilly.”
Elsewhere closer to the palace, memorial events were in full swing as well-wishers gathered to pay their respects to the royal family and hoped to catch a glimpse of King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla.
– “Everyone wants a souvenir” –
“Everyone wants a souvenir with the Queen,” Nasir Abdel, a store manager at Buckingham Gate, a stone’s throw from the main royal residence, told AFP.
Abdel, who left his shop open overnight due to high demand, said he had placed an order for souvenirs featuring King Charles III, but they would arrive in a couple of weeks.
Shopper Janet Saxton, a 73-year-old retiree from Yorkshire in the north of England, examined key chains, mugs and other trinkets bearing the image of the late monarch before heading to the palace gates.
In Oxford Street, souvenir shop Nazz said business was booming.
“In the coming days, we’re going to sell” more of the Queen’s objects while waiting for Charles’ merchandise, he told AFP.
– “Object of enchantment” –
Global coverage of the Queen’s demise is expected to lift the UK economy to some extent as it hopes to stave off a recession caused by years of inflation.
According to Mirabaud analyst John Plassar, her funeral, due to take place on September 19, “should have an impact on the tourism sector and the souvenir industry.”
“The royal family, which regularly appears on the front pages of newspapers, is the object of constant admiration, including far beyond the kingdom.
“Souvenir sales are expected to rise by £60m ($69m) as a result of the funeral,” he added.
Most of the Oxford Street shops remained open, including the John Lewis department store, where Jo-Ann Allen, an accountant, looked for coats.
The British economy “needs to be supported, now is not the time to shut down the country,” she said.
“I don’t think she would want more destruction of the country after her death, after Covid and the cost of living crisis.”
Tony Dunker, head of the British business lobbying group CBI, echoed this sentiment.
“These are difficult times, especially due to the loss of our beloved queen, and we must work tirelessly to build a better future for the people of this country in memory of Her Majesty.”