Toys fit for royalty

As speculation intensifies over whether the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will have a prince or princess, one thing is for certain – where the baby’s first teddy bear will come from

Iconic Merrythought 'London Gold' teddy bears
Iconic Merrythought ‘London Gold’ teddy bears

Merrythought are the last remaining British teddy bear manufacturer and have been supplying the royal family and adults and children of all ages with handmade toys for over 80 years.

Prince Charles and his Merrythought hippo in 1982
Prince Charles and with a Merrythought hippo for his son William in 1982

They delighted The Queen with a special Merrythought corgi in 1952 and surprised Prince Charles with a hippo 30 years later for his son Prince William. The Queen Mother has also been pictured with a Merrythought bear and, as a child, Zara Philips completed stylish outfits with a gorgeous Merrythought teddy hand muff.

Every Merrythought bear is handmade at the same Victorian factory in Shropshire that was set up by Gordon Holmes in 1930. It has remained a family-run business, currently in its fourth generation, with Holmes’ great-granddaughters taking over in 2011.

Last year the company provided the official bears for the London Olympic and Paralympic games and in 2011 were also awarded Supplier of the Year by London department store Fortnum & Mason. The name ‘Merrythought’ is thought to be taken from the word ‘wishbone’, the symbol of good luck and the company’s emblem.

Zara-and-Prince-William
Prince William and Zara Phillips with her Merrythought teddy bear muff

The company’s present range includes traditional and collectable teddy bears and some other soft toy animals, with numerous special designs, each produced in a limited batch, regularly coming onto the market. Recent commemorative bears include those made for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton and The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Do you have a treasured Merrythought bear? Tell us what yours means to you, or share your pictures, by tweeting us @BritainMagazine

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