Jayne Dowle

How to master the art of Jubilee memorabilia

How to master the art of Jubilee memorabilia
Image: Talking Tables
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The Duchess of Cornwall revealed a surprising hobby during a visit to a charity shop on Tuesday. After splashing out on a £1.50 mug celebrating the Queen's Jubilee, Camilla confessed that she has a 'whole collection' of royal memorabilia at home. With the Platinum Jubilee just weeks away, there will be plenty more opportunities for the Duchess, and the rest of us, for that matter, to stock up on regally themed wares.

If the idea of celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in strident red, white and blue makes you feel distinctly queasy, there are ways to mark this momentous national occasion without turning your house and garden into Nigel Farage’s dream home.

It might be a step too far to invest in a personalised Union Jack mug proclaiming – [your name] was here for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – emblazoned also with a metaphor-mixing picture of the Houses of Parliament, from Next, £12, but these nicely vintage half-pint Emma Bridgewater Platinum Jubilee commemorative mugs, £22, would make good keepsakes. Taking up the theme of 'God Save the Queen' and ’70 Glorious Years’, they come in red, white or green (you can even buy one that supports planting a tree, celebrating The Queen's Green Canopy initiative, sustaining 70 ancient woodlands to celebrate 70 years).

The Emma Bridgewater commemorative Jubilee mug

Anything offering heirloom potential is highly-acceptable, such as the bright red tin tray by Annabel James, £9.95, echoing Emma Bridgewater’s celebratory theme, or Poppy Treffry’s jolly £60 cornflower tea cosy decorated with appliqué Guardsmen resplendent in scarlet great-coats.

Timeless appeal: Annabel James's jubilee tray

But exercise restraint if you decide to take commemorative crafts into your own hands. A soft teal and green needlepoint cushion kit, £89.50 from Designers Needle, Etsy, with a graceful crown as a centrepiece is one thing, a hand-knitted Jubilee door wreath, knitting pattern £3.59, Love Crafts, with a stuffed doll version of HRH suspended in the middle and appliqué corgis along the bottom, quite another. Although going consciously kitsch is always an option – and it's something the British do well. 

But it is possible to bring red, white and blue into interiors and retain your minimalist scruples. MADE.com has a restrained selection of tri-colour tableware including a pair of red and blue glass duo tone candle holders, £24, which make a subtle statement paired with tall slender white candles, and softly-toned red and blue glassware.

If you’re trying to inject serious elegance into proceedings, bear in mind that official marketing has swerved divisive flag politics and opted for a regal purple theme instead. Some retailers have warmed to the theme but much of it feels quite corporate – a bookmark anyone? A monogrammed water bottle? The sort of stash that looks like it should be given out at a trade fair.

Harrods has a set of two white, purple and gold tea towels for £22 if you collect that kind of thing, but the Historic Palaces’ collection 2022 Platinum Jubilee Imperial State Crown hanging ornament, £40, remains something of a mystery: save it for Christmas perhaps? Intricately detailed, gold-plated, enamelled and decorated with crystals, it’s rather more Winter Palace than Windsor Castle.

Any temptation to get carried away with patriotic fervour should be tempered with a healthy dose of Britpop-style irony. Smeg has gone straight for the obvious with a range of Union Jack-wrapped kitchen appliances, including a toaster, £189 and 1950s-style refrigerator, £1,390, at Currys.

Smeg's Britpop toaster

Not everyone wants to restyle their kitchen in the name of the crown, but bunting and banners offer easy to add decorative touches that can be taken down and re-used or recycled after the celebrations. Avoid nasty plastic at all costs (cheap it may be, put it puts a heavy price on the environment) and choose something folksy and home-made-looking. Nessa Foye’s Jubilee Bunting, £26.95 for 225cm with 10 flags mixes up the red, white and blue theme with ditsy floral prints, polka dots and cheerful gingham and can be re-purposed afterwards, perhaps in a children’s room.

Ginger Ray has a red sans serif face banner proclaiming ‘Party Like Royalty’ with two neat little navy blue crowns either side, £6.99. It also sells a red London bus cardboard cupcake stand, £22, and cardboard crown Champagne glass toppers, £3.99,  which might be veering a little too towards naffness for some.

A patriotic centre piece from Ginger Ray

However, embracing kitsch is probably the most failsafe way to handle this once-in-a-lifetime decorative dilemma. You can even buy edible rice paper cup-cake decorations, featuring portraits of Her Maj throughout her seven decades’ reign, 24 for £3.75, Snazzy Creations Gifts. But the £5 cake topper – perfect for that Victoria sandwich – from party supplies company Talking Tables has to take the er, crown. It's a jolly ensemble of colourful cut-out figures of the Queen, her guards, assorted corgis, and even a golden coach, and, thankfully, no looming apparitions of Prince Harry or Andrew to spoil the fun.