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What to buy Charles and Camilla
As another royal wedding approaches, one wonders: What to get as a gift?
February 14, 2005: 10:46 AM EST
By Gordon T. Anderson, CNN/Money staff writer
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CNN's Becky Anderson takes a closer look at the woman who is set to wed England's Prince Charles.
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NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The news that Britain's Prince Charles will soon wed his long-time paramour, Camilla Parker Bowles, has generated the predictable fuss.

Pollsters have already taken the pulse of the British public on the propriety of the marriage. (Most Brits favor it.)

London bookmakers are already taking bets on whether Camilla will wear a gown, a dress or a suit, and in what color. (Ladbrokes was offering 1-5 odds it would be a dress, in some creamy hue. The line on hot pink is about 100-1.)

Meanwhile, the Palace has released some logistical information. The event will be held at Charles' mom's house, Windsor Castle, and attended by a modest number -- by royal standards, anyway -- of dignitaries, potentates and rich guys.

Juicier details presumably will be forthcoming from the British tabloids. But the question I really want answered is this: What will the happy couple be getting as gifts?

Remembering a princess

Though I wish them both well, I doubt I'll attend the wedding. Still, I'd like to send a little something. But what do you buy for a man who would be king?

The last time around, it seemed simpler. Lady Diana was a fashion plate with well-publicized tastes.

As a bachelorette, she was one of those upscale Londoners known as Sloan Park Rangers, yuppies with excellent bloodlines and generous credit. They favored department stores like Harvey Nichols, as well as some cute boutiques in Chelsea.

When she and Charles got engaged, it unleashed a commercial frenzy. To cash in on the celebration, companies large and small released commemorative products.

The couple's touch was golden: Diana's dressmaker, Elizabeth Emanuel, got famous fast. The prince's venerable shirtmaker, Turnbull & Asser, saw demand for their wares soar.

Charles and Diana even took the trouble to register at the General Trading Company, a posh London emporium. Everyday items on their list included wooden pepper mills, highball glasses and a tablecloth.

Wedding gifts poured in from around the world: the Reagans sent Steuben glass. The king of Tonga offered up a bedspread handmade by his wife, the queen. An English town sent over a ton of peat.

The royal pet food makers

This time around, expect a bit more restraint.

For one thing, it's the second marriage for both. Moreover, product marketers may rush to associate with a princess. But a Princess Consort? We'll see.

Even so, the commercial hub-bub is building. The picture of Camilla's ring was widely disseminated Friday, along with one of Charles perusing less rarified jewelry at Goldsmiths.

As the Big Day draws near, expect to hear (discreetly, of course) about all manner of goods that are fit for a king-in-waiting.

There's been no word yet about a bridal registry. But if you want to send a gift, start by perusing the list of royal warrant holders.

These 800 or so companies provide the royal household with goods and services, and get a royal stamp of approval for the trouble.

It's a Who's Who of British luxury goods, containing all the famous British names in linens, crystal, china and clothing.

But royal warrants also go to more mundane provisioners to the House of Windsor. There are pet food suppliers, makers of fishing gear, and mobile phone marketers.

I just hope that Charles and Camilla enjoy whatever I find for them.

The Good Life is a weekly column that chronicles products, people and trends in luxury consumer goods, travel, and fine food and drink. Write to:  Top of page


Great Britain
Prince Charles
Camilla Parker Bowles
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