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Two Tassie gifts for Princess Charlotte

Edition 161 The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, shows off Princess Charlotte's Tasmanian merino cot blanket.

Official Tasmanian-made gifts from the Australian and Tasmanian governments have been selected for Britain’s newest gurgling celebrity, Princess Charlotte.

The Australian Government is sending a merino cot blanket from Waverley Woollen Mills in Launceston, while the Tasmanian Government is sending a lavender teddy bear from Bridestowe Estate.

The Tasmanian-made items are among scores of official gifts heading from across the Commonwealth to the royal nursery in Kensington Palace.

Their selection – and connection to the new princess – create immediate promotional benefits for suppliers.

Within hours of the Waverley Woollen Mills announcement there was a rush of inquiries about similar blankets from Australia’s last remaining woollen mill.

A Waverley spokesperson said an additional production run of the cot blankets, which usually retail for $170, was a distinct possibility.

“We are pretty excited by the whole thing,” she said. “I would have had 20 phone inquiries and 12 email enquiries today.”

At Nabowla in the north-east, the Bridestowe team was discussing how they would cope if there was a similar reaction.

They had sold 40,000 lavender bears in a year, struggling to keep up with existing demand, mainly from China.

Bobbie, the lavender-coloured and lavender-filled bear, shot to fame in Asia when celebrities, including Chinese actor Fan Bingbing, posted photos on social media of themselves hugging the Tasmanian soft toy.

An animated TV series has recently been filmed following Bobbie’s adventures on the biggest lavender farm in the southern hemisphere and his interactions with his native animal friends.

Sales of Bobbies to tourists have had to be rationed.

Waverley’s white cot blanket was woven from 22 micron Tasmanian merino wool and embroidered with wattle, Australia’s floral emblem, by members of the ACT Embroiderers’ Guild.

It is the nation’s official gift to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to mark the birth of Charlotte (officially Her Royal Highness Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge) on 2 May.

Waverley Woollen Mills spokesperson Penny Rundle said the choice of gift by the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was logical given the 141-year-old mill was Australia’s last surviving woollen mill after decades of globalisation of the textile industry.

“If the Government is looking for a baby [blanket] made in Australia by an Australian owned business, we’re pretty much it,’’ Ms Rundle said.

The Federal Member for Bass, Andrew Nikolic, said he had taken Mr Abbott and some of his senior staff to Waverley Woollen Mills during visits to Launceston and they had been greatly impressed by the products.

“This is a wonderful gift for the new princess and wonderful recognition for Launceston and one of our longest-operating businesses,” Mr Nikolic said.

He said Waverley Woollen Mills was famous for the quality of its products.

The Tasmanian Premier, Will Hodgman, said: “To celebrate the arrival, the Tasmanian Government will gift a Bobbie lavender bear to Princess Charlotte.”

He said some new Tasmanian mothers would also benefit.

“In honour of the birth of the princess, we will also be providing several specialist nursing chairs to the paediatric ward at the Royal Hobart Hospital to assist new mothers,” Mr Hodgman said.

A plaque commemorating the arrival of Princess Charlotte will be installed at the hospital as a reminder of the occasion.

Princess Charlotte, who is fourth in line to the British throne, was setting fashion trends within 10 hours of her birth.

She unwittingly sparked a buying frenzy by making her first public appearance wrapped in a white merino shawl made by GH Hurt & Son Ltd of Nottingham.

A GH Hurt & Son spokesperson said: “Overnight we have seen a dramatic increase in demand for this product from around the world.”

2 June 2015, Edition 161

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