Harry and Meghan who? China’s souvenir makers not holding their breath for a right royal rush
Manufacturers underwhelmed by lack of demand for commemorative items, while social media users try to work out which prince is getting married
It might have been big news in Britain, but the announcement late last month that Prince Harry had popped the question to his American girlfriend Meghan Markle barely caused a ripple of interest in China.
“Chinese people really don’t care about the British royal family. We’re different from Australians,” a man surnamed Zhou from the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen wrote on the Twitter-like microblogging platform Weibo.
Another social media user seemed more concerned with clarifying which prince was in the news and whether he was follicly challenged.
“I thought Prince Harry was the bald uncle,” the person said. “What’s the name of that bald uncle?”
Neither Prince Harry nor his older brother William are known for their flowing locks, though the younger royal is the slightly more hirsute of the pair.
But the general indifference to the engagement was reflected in orders for commemorative items. In contrast with the announcement seven years ago of Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton, Chinese manufacturers have yet to see a surge in demand from British and international retailers for souvenirs.
Bruce Zhou, from Yiwu Mingwang Jewellery, said that within 24 hours of William and Kate’s engagement, his factory in eastern China’s Zhejiang province was churning out all sorts of memorabilia, including replicas of Kate’s diamond-and-sapphire engagement ring.
The jewel-encrusted band was the same one William’s father, Prince Charles, had given to his mother, then Lady Diana Spencer, 29 years earlier.
The ring cost £28,000 pounds in 1981, while the replicas made in factories across Yiwu sold for about US$3 wholesale, and between US$30 and US$40 retail around the world, according to media reports at the time.
“It was very different then,” Zhou said. “The ring that Kate wore was an inheritance from Prince William’s mother, Princess Diana. It had much more commemorative value so I knew it would be popular.”
Also, in 2010, William was, and remains, second in line to the British throne, while his 33-year-old brother has been relegated to fifth in line with the birth of William and Kate’s two children.
With Harry set to marry his fiancée in May, there is still time for a merchandise rush to start, but Zhou said he would not be holding his breath.
“There’s no reason for us to do anything,” he said.