Secret donors and foreign firms bankroll Diamond Jubilee celebration

Her Majesty will be aboard the Spirit of Chartwell, a traditional Royal barge decorated in the style of a grand Pullman railway carriage. 

It will be a weekend of celebration. Not least among suffering High Street retailers, who amid the country’s double-dip recession will be cheering as loudly as the flag-flying crowds lining the River Thames in London to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.

But despite the estimated £823m expected to pour into UK plc this weekend according to, British businesses proved tight-pursed when it came to raising the necessary funds for the celebration’s piece de resistance, the advertising-free pageant on Sunday June 3.

The committee responsible for the event, tried to entice British companies into coming up with the funds earlier this year.

But with a ban on advertising on either the riverside or on participating boats, it proved to be a difficult sell and organisers had to draw on contributions from foreign companies and individuals to make up the shortfall.

Lord Salisbury, the chairman of Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, reportedly said that he did not wish to empty the public purse.  Nor did he wish the Diamond Jubilee star event to be a ‘Tesco Pageant’.

No advertising
Instead the event organisers had to approach a number of non-British companies to pay for the costs, that include 7,000 stewards and festivities planned in Battersea Park.

The pageant has obtained its sought-after millions. Far from a ‘Tesco Pageant’, though it’s main supermarket competitor Sainsbury’s is an official sponsor of the flotilla. Other official supporters include American oil company Chevron, advertising company AMV BBDO and the Mayor of London. An additional 20 publicly listed donors have contributed to the tab.

Companies from America, Australia and the Far East have reportedly signed “six-figure checks” as contributions.

However, the British public will never know the full list of organisations that contributed to the funding as the Jubilee Foundation only lists the donors who wish to be named.

Among this list there are 14 UK individuals and companies and six foreign individuals and businesses. This list includes the Italian business couple and Classica Wine Company owners Count and Countess Capodilista, American banking giants Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, Taiwanese Shin King Life Foundation and Japanese brokering house Nomura Group.

According to a Thames Diamond Jubilee pageant spokeswoman there are ‘a considerable number of contributors who have made donations and do not wish to be named’.

The level of foreign contributions to the British Queen’s pageant as well as the hidden identity of some contributors is in contrast to recent comments from Phil Smith, the commercial director of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Foundation.

Fit for a Queen
Mr Smith recently said in an interview that the Foundation had been talking to the ‘right brands’ that fit with the event and the Queen as well as ‘those with a history and association with Britain and its people’.

The historical connection between companies like Chevron or Nomura and the British Isles is unclear.

Other events, where companies are allowed to market themselves, have proved more popular to companies. The biggest commercial boon will be the Queen’s Jubilee picnic, to be held in the gardens of Buckingham Palace on June 4 and attended by 13,000 guests.

Supermarket giant and Royal Warrant Holder Waitrose may be providing 10,000 free hampers for the Jubilee picnic but its commercial gains are already pouring in.

A Waitrose Press Release predicts its strawberry sales will increase seven-fold, its almond meal six-fold and ‘sales of Elderflower cordial have been soaring by an incredible 1,000 per cent’.

Cobra beer, official beer sponsor for the picnic, will also have reason to smile at profits gained by royal association, with one study suggesting that spending on all types of alcohol will reach £79.74m over the weekend.

A spokeswoman for celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, who is working with Royal Chef Mark Flanagan on the picnic basket goodies, said that it is too early to predict any financial impact of the cook’s participation in the picnic but noted that Blumenthal’s Fat Duck restaurant is fully-booked, as always.

The commercial frenzy surrounding the Diamond Jubilee is not limited to those companies with official connections. has released details of a survey indicating spending intentions over the Diamond Jubilee weekend. The survey suggests Britons will spend £823m, an average of £40 per person on Jubilee-related purchases.

Traditional souvenirs featuring Diamond Jubilee insignia are widely available as are less expected exercises in the marrying of royalty and business.

Diamond Jubilee sick bags
Not everything is in the best possible taste.  Diamond Jubilee sick bags are on offer and has issued a limited edition of ‘Her Majazzle Diamante Jubilee Crown Jewels’ crystal tattoo for the pubic region.

Reflecting this, Buckingham Palace has sought to curb the worst excesses of commercialisation.

A Diamond Jubilee Circular has set out the conditions under which terms such as ‘The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee 2012’ may be used, including the requirement that souvenirs are ‘in good taste’.

The Lord Chamberlain’s Office, the body within Buckingham Palace responsible for royal branding,  has a policy of ‘not generally seeking to oppose the use of images of Members of the Royal Family on certain articles which are for sale, provided they are of a permanent kind, free from advertisement [and] in good taste’.

In response to questioning, a Buckingham Palace spokesman declined to answer a question of whether or not any complaints had been received about Diamond Jubilee commercialisation. Instead, the spokesman emphasised that ‘this is a year of celebration’.

According to Professor Balmer, a widely-published academic on marketing and royal branding with Brunel University, the commercial success of the royal brand and why companies would be so enthusiastic to associate themselves with it is because of the success of the ‘five Rs – Royal, Regal, Relevant, Respected and Responsive’.

It seems this weekend will have plenty of these Rs.  Not to mention, with all the partying due to happen, ‘raucous’, ‘rapacious’ and, for those companies enjoying the windfalls of the weekend’s spending, ‘rich’.

How UK plc will gain from the Diamond Jubilee celebrations

A study by the Centre for Retail Research is based on conversations with retailers, supplies and manufacturers. According to The Centre’s estimates of the Diamond Jubilee-related increases to expected retail spending include:

Souvenirs: £196.68m

Food and non-alcoholic drinks: £105.97m

Sales of coins and tokens: £37.50m

Five million mugs and pottery items: £21.50m

120,000 teapots: £1.68m

Books, stationery and toys: £53m

Online sales are expected to rise by £134.15m