INTRODUCTION: In Britain, preparation for Queen Elizabeth's silver jubilee year which begins officially on Sunday (6 February) - are in full swing.
INTRODUCTION: In Britain, preparation for Queen Elizabeth's silver jubilee year which begins officially on Sunday (6 February) - are in full swing. A special exhibition of the Queen's private art collection never previously shown to the public opened at Buckingham Palace on Friday (4 February). Elsewhere in the city, Jubilee souvenirs - chosen by a panel chaired by Prince Charles, the Queen's eldest son and heir to the throne, are on show to the public. The chosen products are variously described as fun, functional, decorative and collectors' items.
SYNOPSIS: Plates and mugs are a popular favourite and the shown includes expensive items from some of Britain's biggest pottery manufacturers. The smaller craftsmen are represented too.
At the Rye pottery in Sussex in the heart of southern England, they are hard at work on plates, mugs and dishes, all officially approved. The small 100-year-old pottery will do well out of Jubilee year. Prices are not cheap, but five hundred plates at about 15 each ($25 U.S.) and a thousand mugs at about 5.50 ($9 U.S.) are expected to be sold from the pottery and its two shops, one in Sussex and one in London. The items are all hand-painted - an added attraction for souvenir hunters.
Here are some finished pieces at the London exhibition. Prices vary greatly - mugs for instance range form one to seventy five pounds ($1.74 U.S. - $120). It may sound expensive, but there'll be plenty of free-spending foreign tourists to snap them up. Eight and a half million are expected during the year most of them in London.
A Corgi dog toast rack and a Jubilee tee-shirt are just a couple of the novelties that tourist will find.
But if they're looking for real art they should go to Buckingham Palace. Here in the Queen's Gallery a breath-taking collection of great pictures has been opened for public viewing. It's a fascinating insight into royal taste in art through the ages. There are portraits of monarchs from Richard the Third and Henry the Fifth through to Queen Victoria, and the artists include many old matters. The first Queen Elizabeth is there, too, of course.
The opening of the exhibition precedes the more spectacular events of Jubilee year. The Queen and her husband Prince Philip leave on Wednesday (9 February) on a seven week, 30,000 mile (48,000 kms) tour of Australasia. They return of three-and-a-half months of celebrations including bonfires, pageants and banquets, and a 'Royal Tour' across Britain. Even the severe seeming Queen Victoria might have been amused.