Windsor businesses cash in on royal wedding boom

Windsor (United Kingdom) (AFP) –


Gift shops, pubs and street vendors are doing a roaring trade in Windsor ahead of the royal wedding, cashing in as tourists throng the town.

If it's got Prince Harry or Meghan Markle's face on it, it's likely to fly off the shelves ahead of their nuptials in Windsor Castle on Saturday.

"We're doing great," said Malkit Aujla, who owns the A.P. Souvenirs and Gifts shop opposite the castle walls.

"We've seen a 25 to 30-percent increase in business," he told AFP in between selling gifts and trinkets.

"Mostly the mugs and tea towels are the big sellers -- plus the magnets, and small plates, and small flags. The Harry and Meghan masks are flying.

"When we order anything in, it's all gone. The shopping bags and bunting are all finished. With the tea towels, we ordered, very sensibly, 96 -- and they're all gone in two weeks."

Master Gifts and Souvenirs, further down Thames Street, has put its wedding souvenirs right in the shop entrance.

"When people see the stuff, they come inside," said shop assistant Julius Mariadas, as a French-speaking woman intending to camp out hunted for the biggest British flag available.

Replica engagement rings at £9.99 ($13.50, 11.50 euros), £6.99 mugs, and £2.99 fridge magnets jostle for shelf space with tea trays, pill boxes, shortbread boxes and teddy bears featuring the happy couple.

"The royal wedding stuff is moving very fast," said Mariadas.

"These are good times."

- 'It's manic' -

But Kevin Ball, a retired police officer, who cycles in every morning from a nearby campsite with his portable stall to sell souvenirs, said business was too slow for his liking.

"We're hoping it will pick up soon," he said.

He sells white baseball caps with "Harry and Meghan Royal Wedding" written on, and purple scarves featuring the couple's faces.

"I think people love to celebrate something British."

One stallholder selling mugs and hats, who did not wish to give his name, complained that the wedding would actually cost him money, because the castle was closing to the public.

"It's garbage," he said. "I rely on the castle being open," he said, adding: "I've been here 47 years -- I don't need a wedding to make money."

Near the castle, The Three Tuns pub is completing a makeover as The Prince Harry, just in time for the wedding. Outside on scaffolding, a decorator is busily painting "Prince Harry" on the wall.

"It's perfect timing," said landlady Kelly Carpenter as workers carted in sacks of potatoes before streets in central Windsor are shut down.

Pints of locally-brewed Harry-and-Meghan Windsor Knot royal wedding pale ale are doing a brisk trade.

"I've had another 10 casks delivered this morning," said Carpenter.

"It's manic. It's been absolutely heaving. It's just non-stop."