A Creepy Way to Celebrate the Royal Wedding

What, you’re not going to buy a Kate Middleton doll?

How best to mark a momentous occasion? A commemorative doll, of course. And, just in time for Kate Middleton’s long-awaited nuptials to Prince William, the Exton-based Franklin Mint has released a slightly creepy Kate doll, wearing a teeny replica of the blue Issa dress she donned for her engagement announcement, and bearing, at best, only a vague resemblance to her soon-to-be Royal Highness. But the truly perplexing part? The price tag: $195. Really?

[SIGNUP]It’s not that I’m not excited for the Royal Wedding. It’s just that I don’t feel the need to go to bed at night with a 16-inch vinyl Kate doll staring gloatingly at me from my bureau, mocking my pedestrian, civilian existence. For that matter, I also don’t feel a strong desire to purchase the other “heirloom dolls” the Franklin Mint has rolled out, from First Ladies (Michelle and Jackie) to “celebrities” (Marilyn) and, of course, Princess Di.

Who are these people that buy these commemorative dolls? Are they slightly off, like crazy cat ladies, with frazzled hair and smelling faintly of mothballs? Or are they just trying to recapture their childhood, and buying a doll to commemorate a historical moment is more socially acceptable than, say, popping into the local Toys ‘R’ Us and buying out a shelf of Mattel?

The commenters on Dolldiaries.com seem pretty excited about the opportunity to buy doll-size Kate: “Adorable!! I love it!! It’s sooooo romantic!” Romantic? And the self-assured people at the Franklin Mint are confident these dolls are going to sell: They’re urging us to “pre-order now,” to guarantee one of the 5,000 limited-edition dolls. But then again, they’ve got customers who will shell out $3,299 for a single, low-mintage Taj Mahal gold-proof coin. (They state on their website that, as of November 2nd, 85 percent of these coins have been sold.) Which again begs the question: Who is buying this stuff?

And where does one keep a commemorative doll, anyway? Encased in bullet-proof glass, we assume, or mounted on the wall in a dramatic shadow-box-type treatment. Possibly a gilded display case is needed, with which guests can be taken on a doll tour of history: “In 1953, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier—there she is, in her wedding gown, top shelf—married JFK. But it wasn’t happily ever after. He had an affair with bombshell Marilyn Monroe—see her there, on the second shelf, in the gold lamé? …” They aren’t for play, these dolls of the commemorative ilk. They are serious.

So serious that the Diana Memorial Fund actually sued The Franklin Mint in 1998 for stealing the late princess’s image for their commemorative dolls and plates. (The Franklin Mint countersued, and the Fund ended up having to freeze grants already doled out to several charities—all in the name of a doll. The case was eventually settled out of court, with the Fund paying a cool $25 million to the Mint for “unnecessary malicious prosecution”—that’s the equivalent of over 126,000 Kate Middleton dolls.) People take their dolls very seriously.

In any case, commemorative dolls still creep me out. I’d much prefer to celebrate historic occasions by actually participating in them, if possible, or watching them on TV, or at least getting a day off of work (as the Brits will on April 29th). I’ll take a national holiday over a vinyl doll any day, thankyouverymuch. Until then, I’ll wait with bated breath to see what Kate will wear on her wedding day. After all, I need to see how good the Mint replica is.