The news that Prince William of Wales, second in line to the British crown, is to marry his girlfriend Catherine (Kate) Middleton has delighted souvenir manufacturers.
A glut of mugs and tea towels featuring the pair is set to flood stores in a sales bonanza not seen since the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Diana. Souvenir-makers will be mindful that memorabilia of the 1981 royal nuptials remain highly sought by collectors.
Stoke-on-Trent company Aynsley China said it immediately began manufacturing a line of fine bone china pieces today after the announcement, with the first expected to arrive in stores early in the new year.
Sales director John Wallis said: "We have had the designs prepared for some time but were just waiting for an announcement. We'll be making items to commemorate both the engagement and the wedding. We find that royal weddings are always very popular with collectors all over the world."
Royal Crown Derby also said it had been preparing for an announcement and had designed items from small trays to a hand-painted peacock with flowers relating to the country and special occasions. It is waiting for a wedding date but some items are ready to be produced without one.
Sales and marketing director Simon Willis said: "It's very significant because it's something that will make people buy. Obviously spending has been down and we need something like this to make people feel they can go out and buy something to mark a special occasion."
However Woolworths did not let the absence of an announcement stop it from releasing commemorative souvenirs for William and Kate in 2006. The chain store was so convinced of the couple's permanence that it commissioned a range of more than 20 items including mugs, plates and a special edition mobile phone. The couple briefly split shortly afterwards.
Once the date is announced, the industry will hope it does not change, as it did when the 2005 wedding of Charles and Camilla was postponed a day to April 9 due to the funeral of Pope John Paul II. The last-minute change meant souvenirs carried the wrong date, with manufacturers out of time to produce replacements.
Royal fans can be relied on to snap up mementoes of next year's wedding, from novelty items like tea towels, key rings and fridge magnets to fine china plates and cups.
The engagement of Charles and Diana was promptly followed by an official photo appearing on items ranging from biscuit tins to T-shirts.
Those wanting a memento of the wedding of Charles and Camilla could select a fine bone china mug featuring two entwined letter Cs, a tea towel featuring the happy couple's faces on a Union Jack background and plastic Charles and Camilla place mats.
Previous royal weddings have been marked by commemorative stamps and coins.