Adult retailers, it would seem, are no exception.
Last month, in anticipation of the royal wedding, Bath, U.K.-based Lovehoney--an online seller of raunchy paraphernalia--unveiled a new collection of vibrating "rings" to mark the occasion. The products, aptly dubbed the "Royal Wedding Love Ring" and the "Markle Sparkle Finger Ring," retail for just $11.99 apiece (as of writing, both are marked down to $2.50 as part of a special "wedding week" deal.) The rings are compact, battery-powered, and manufactured out of silicone, designed to "pop into your away bag for a weekend romp," according to a press release. Simply slip the former onto your "Prince Charming," or the latter onto your finger, and waves of pleasure will follow, it promises.
Although the company declined to specify how many toys it has sold to date, a spokesperson confirmed that it's on track to sell out of both before Saturday.
"Themed toys are very important to our business," noted Lovehoney co-founder Neal Slateford in an email interview with Inc., regarding his decision to produce the limited-edition line of toys. To his point, the company can also boast the exclusive rights to E.L. James' 50 Shades of Grey franchise--it furnished the first film's "Red Room of Pain," and designed a number of Grey-branded crops, vibrators, handcuffs and their ilk--and has similarly designed toys to mark Valentine's Day, Halloween, and even May 4th, an unofficial Star Wars holiday. "We make sure that we theme or curate collections based on key moments in the cultural zeitgeist," Slateford added. The strategy seems to be paying off, at least to a degree: The company posted record profits of £9 million ($12.2 million) in 2017, after sales surged 31 percent to £76 million ($102 million) for the year ended March 31, according to the most recently available financial data.
Lovehoney isn't the only business seizing on this particular cultural moment. Crown Jewels--a London-based maker of "souvenir-grade, heirloom prophylatics"--has similarly created a special line of musical condoms. Yes, you read that right. The so-called "love sheaths" come enclosed in a box that, when opened, plays an arrangement of both the British and American national anthems. (God Save the Queen, indeed.)
Each box contains four condoms, selling for £10.00 (or $13.52). "A royal wedding is a celebration of love, just like our luxurious sheaths," said Hugh Pomfret, a spokesman for the company, in a prepared statement. "We proudly stand with our American cousins to toast the happy couple and say to lovers everywhere: Your Prince will come."
Of course, neither of these companies have the endorsement (or, indeed, the acknowledgement) of the British Crown. For this reason, says Lovehoney's Slateford, it was important to be tasteful in approaching the design: "As our toys are not the officially branded sex toys of the royal family, we took a long time to concept the products to ensure that they are well received," he said. Bonny Hall, the firm's product director, adds that it took around four months to design and produce the collection--and even then the company wasn't able to include an actual photograph of the couple on its packaging, for which they would have needed to secure copyright permissions. Instead, they reached out to a cartoonist to draw up the couple's likeness. Crown Jewels, similarly, commissioned a Romanian painter--Jacqués Valentin--to create a commemorative portrait of Meghan and Harry to feature on their condoms, in lieu of photography.
Still, Lovehoney insists there hasn't been any backlash from the Crown for their irreverent rings--a reality that product director Hall sees as uniquely British. "In the U.K., we generally have a lot of products come around, from plates to swimsuits with the their faces on them," she tells Inc. "It's kind of the human side of the country. And we've done this in kind of a soft way, keeping the message fun," she adds.
It's worth noting that this isn't the first time the company has marketed a line of royal-wedding toys: When Prince William married Kate Middleton in 2011, it came out with a limited edition "royal blue love ring," which the royal family similarly declined to acknowledge.
Ultimately, says Lovehoney's Hall, the campaign is all in good fun. "We're not doing this to be in any way disrespectful," she says. After all: "It's British humor."