LONDON (Reuters) - With a Grenadier Guard in a sentry box beside the front door, and blue, white and red bunting festooning the outside, “Heritage House” stands out from other homes on this suburban London street.
Statues of two Corgi dogs either side of the doorstep provide an extra hint of what awaits inside the home of pensioner Margaret Tyler - a shrine to Britain’s royal family.
Crammed with pictures, statues, plates and tea towels, Tyler’s hoard of more than 10,000 items is believed to be the biggest private collection of all things royal in Britain.
The 70-year-old, who has been dubbed the “queen of royal memorabilia” by the media, has been collecting since 1977, the year of Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee, when she bought an “Elizabeth R” ashtray. Now, she dedicates different rooms to the Queen, Princess Diana and the younger royals.
Her living room, focusing on Prince William, his wife Catherine and their son Prince George, is crammed.
Pictures of all sizes, mugs and a replica of George’s christening gown are all on display. There is little space to move around let alone expand the collection but Tyler is determined to find a spot for more when William and Catherine’s second child is born towards the end of April.
“I am beyond excited ... It seems to be my last thought at night and my first thought in the morning,” Tyler, dressed in a Union Jack jacket, told Reuters, casting her eyes over a tea set adorned with George’s picture.
Tyler has already pinned a banner reading “Congratulations on the birth of your baby” on the front of her house, and just like for George’s birth in July 2013, she plans to join other royal fans outside the hospital to await the new arrival.
George was born to a worldwide media fanfare and as much excitement is expected for his sibling.
With her collection insured for 40,000 pounds ($60,000), Tyler lives among life-size cardboard cut-outs of the queen, Diana and other royals.
She has converted her top floor into a room for paying guests, in which she hosts fellow royal enthusiasts.
“Sometimes if people have got someone in the family who is a royalist they’ll ask if they can have a little party here,” Tyler said. “And so we have little tea parties and they bring cake and drink lots of tea.”
Tyler said she gets given many of the items, usually from other fans who are clearing out their homes.
Reporting by Georgina Cooper and Reuters Television; Editing by Louise Ireland