LONDON -- Procter & Gamble, the latest marketer to succumb to royal wedding fever, is developing a special-edition plastic bottle of its best-selling dishwashing detergent, Fairy Liquid, to commemorate the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton on April 29.
The consumer goods giant already has a Royal Warrant for the Fairy Liquid brand, which is known as Dreft outside the U.K. The regular bottles carry the queen's coat of arms and the words "By Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen. Manufacturers of Soap and Detergents." (The royal family lets its favorite product suppliers promote themselves as Royal Warrant holders.)
A P&G roster agency is believed to be working on a design for the royal wedding-themed packaging. P&G confirmed that the Lord Chamberlain's office had approved the move and said in a statement: "We know how much public excitement is already building and we are thrilled to have Fairy involved."
Approval was, however, unnecessary. Until Oct. 1, Prince William has temporarily relaxed the rules governing the commercial use of royal photographs and insignia, in order to allow their use on wedding memorabilia.
Manufacturers are already going into overdrive creating royal wedding merchandise. Retail analyst Verdict estimates that the wedding could bring in an extra $984 million to the U.K. economy next year, with $641 million going to retailers and $343 million from travel and tourism. An extra 300,000 visitors are expected to come to the U.K. this year -- 3% higher than in an average year.
Prince William is allowing manufacturers to produce commemorative items as long as they use approved photographs and the items are "in good taste, free from any form of advertisement and carry no implication of royal approval." T-shirts, tea towels and aprons are not considered to be in "good taste."
It is unlikely that the royal household would approve of the royal wedding condoms manufactured by a company called Crown Jewels that describes itself as "purveyors of the finest heritage prophylactics" and promise they will provide a "royal union of pleasure."
On a more tasteful note, London Transport is issuing a limited-edition special Oyster Card (the plastic public transit card with an embedded chip used on London subways and buses); and the Birmingham Mint has produced a limited run of 50,000 commemorative coins retailing at $8 each.
A directive from Buckingham Palace suggests the use of the phrase "To commemorate the marriage of Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton, 29th April 2011" on wedding memorabilia. This is part of a drive to re-brand Kate as Catherine, pushing the more regal version of her name in preparation for when she becomes queen. (Catherine, the name of three of Henry VIII's six wives, has long been a popular royal name.)
Ms. Middleton earned the nickname "Waity Katie" by going out with William for eight years before he proposed, and Buckingham Palace is trying hard to shake off the familiarity and encourage a more dignified and respectful form of address.
Not everyone is prepared to treat the royal family with the required respect, however. Designer Lydia Leith has created Royal Wedding sickness bags in blue and red, for people who find it all too much. They are marketed under the brand name "Throne Up."
Even Fairy Liquid's tribute to the royal couple, who probably don't wash a lot of their own dishes, may be suspect.
"In the sense that it fits with Fairy's brand image of a much-loved product passed down through generations of English families, it's quite a nice idea and very fitting," said Claire Gould, who blogs at the English Wedding Blog. "But if a corporation the size of Procter & Gamble is using the gimmick to sell more product or even -- heaven forbid -- add a couple of pence onto the price to increase profits, then I think it's horrific."