The Royal Scrapbook

THE ROYAL SCRAPBOOK. Compiled by Robert Opie. New Cavendish Books pound;12.95

Robert Opie, the magpie of packaging and ephemera, is probably even now sifting tirelessly through street-party leftovers for his next edition.

This summer's golden taxis and coronation chicken crisps came too late for Opie's latest collection of 1,500 images, which includes Princess Margaret's death, but not her mother's, in its survey of Nineties and Noughties royal-related headlines.

The relationship of royals with the media, as "A splendidly frank speech by the Duke" (Daily Mirror, 1964) gives way to "One's Bum of a Year" (the Sun on the Queen's "annus horribilis", 1992), provides an amusing undercurrent and the collection reflects the increasing level of tame subversion tolerated since the previous jubilee (Sex Pistols sleeves, Spitting Image slippers and Private Eye covers).

But Opie's great strength lies in the range of mass-produced objects displayed; from classic souvenirs, now valuable, to throwaway trivia and marketing ploys. Note the Edwardian kings-and-queens teaching aids and the glorious "Egbert to George III" board game on the endpapers.

Victoria's reign saw the growth of the market for keepsakes, and developments in colour printing, so her diamond jubilee was awash with artefacts and her coronation almost discreet by comparison.

Elizabeth II's coronation was recorded on Oxo and Weetabix packets as well as on TV, with the Hovis Coronation Periscope a must-have for those not watching at home.

My fascination lies in seeing what is left of events I have lived through (such as recent royal weddings). Is it significant that Charles and Diana were celebrated with Quality Street and Liquorice Allsorts, Andrew and Sarah with Milk Tray, and Anne and Mark mainly on mugs? For Edward and Sophie, the souvenir-makers showed admirable restraint; their marriage (still intact) did not generate a single entry for Opie.

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