Flying the flag…Royal Family to sell British souvenirs

The Royal Family’s gift shops are to Buy British and use more recycled materials in souvenirs for tourists in an effort to go greener and support UK jobs.

Measures to cut the carbon footprint of the palace tourist operation and make it more environmentally sustainable are set out in an annual report published yesterday by the Royal Collection Trust.

It details a pathway to decarbonisation and Net Zero that includes: “Focus on securing UK suppliers for products and packaging, thereby minimising the carbon footprint associated with delivery and fulfilment whilst supporting domestic skills and employment.”

The report says palace officials also plan to use more recycled materials, including plastic bottles, in the souvenirs they sell in gift shops, stepping up measures they have been trying to follow for the past few years.

Aides say they have long tried to use British-made and environmentally friendly products where possible but will never be completely reliant on UK goods despite controversy in 2015 over the amount of royal-themed memorabilia manufactured in China, Turkey, and other European Union countries on sale in palace gifts shops.

READ MORE: Shop like the royals this Christmas – gifts with a Royal Warrant

“We’ll try to use UK suppliers where possible,” a spokeswoman said yesterday.

The report shows that in the year to March 31, the trust – the charity and Royal Household department that conserves the monarchy’s treasures and opens its residences to paying visitors – made a small profit for the first time since suffering huge losses in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Its £8million profit on income of £61.8million this year came after it was forced to make redundancies and take out a £52million loan facility because of the enforced closure of royal residences during the pandemic, borrowing £34.5million of the sum available. The trust recorded a £36 million loss in 2021, followed by a £15million loss last year but has reduced its drawn loan balance from £33.5million to £22.5 in the past year.

Now, boosted by international interest in the new reign of King Charles III and the Coronation, the trust is back on track to see visitor numbers, merchandise sales, and profits return eventually to pre-Covid levels.

Sir James Leigh-Pemberton, the trust’s chairman, said: “It has been heartening to see visitors from across the world returning to the palaces and galleries to enjoy the Collection.”

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More than 1 million people visited Windsor Castle, compared with only 426,000 in 2021-22, while Buckingham Palace welcomed 304,000 compared to only 121,000 in the previous year.

But the total number of 1,946,000 visitors to royal residences in 2022-23 was still substantially down on the 3,285,000 in the last pre-Covid year of 2019-20.

Aides expect an increase again this year as visitor numbers to British tourist attractions return to normality but say they are still likely to be down on pre-Covid numbers because most royal residences are now only open to the public for five days and will only return to seven-day opening when there is sufficient demand.

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