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My tips for living like royalty (on a pauper’s budget): JASMINE BIRTLES helps you with the cost of living crunch
She may have a personal fortune of £370 million, but the Queen is famous for her money-saving nous and reluctance to overspend on anything.
‘She’s not a spendthrift,’ Dickie Arbiter, her former press secretary tells me. ‘She’s the sort of person that if she passes a room and there’s nobody in it and the light is on, she switches it off.’
With this frugal spirit — and the Jubilee — in mind, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a little regal luxury for less.
Smarten up your tea tray with a Fortnum & Mason tea tin sourced on eBay (bids start at 99p for an empty, used tin). The grocer has a long association with the Royal Family, but you can fill this with your own supermarket tea bags.
Or ask a friend to gift you Fortnum & Mason tea for a birthday treat then refill the tin after with your own cheaper tea bags. (A 50-tea-bag tin in the Fortnum & Mason signature pale blue is £12.95). Serve with reduced-price macaroons, often available in TK Maxx stores.
Don’t keep your finest plates for best. Get them out at least once a week, along with linen napkins and napkin rings. It’s an easy way to make a meal more memorable with no cost attached. You can easily make your own napkins if you don’t have any using cotton or linen sheets you don’t want any more, sewing a hem around each square. If you want to go really posh, you could add an iron-on monogram (£1.50 on eBay).
If you need new china, go to an auction house and see what they have on offer — vintage pieces can often be picked up for very little. AuctionSaleFinder.co.uk is a great website that allows you to find your nearest auctions quickly and easily. You can search by location or key word.
Make supper a candlelit affair, stocking up on candles for as little as £1 at Poundshop or Wilko.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy a little regal luxury for less
Decant wine or juice into a pretty glass vessel and it immediately looks more expensive. Trawl charity shops for glass decanters or pick one up on eBay for under a fiver.
If wine is your tipple, go for ‘bin ends’ such as the mixed boxes of 12 that Laithwaites (laithwaites.co.uk) sells at a discount, like its Australian Reds Sale Showcase which is £83.88, saving you £57.
When it comes to picking up posh nosh for less, it’s a question of timing. According to reducedgrub.com, Marks & Spencer reduces its food three times during the day: at 10am by about 10 per cent, at 2pm reducing food by 30 per cent and then, after 5pm, some food is marked down by between 70 to 90 per cent.
At Waitrose, the main time for reducing the prices of certain fresh foods is 8-9pm, or the last hour before closing time.
Panicking that you have nothing to wear to your evening in? Channel Her Majesty and restyle something you already own.
Or, as I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, there are some marvellous goodies to be had if you go to charity shops in posh areas.
Charityretail.org.uk is an amazing website which shows you all of the charity shops within a five-miles of your location. Some are overpriced — I’ve been pretty shocked at the price tags on designer items in the Central London Oxfam outlets. But you can often get great labels at a fraction of the price you’d pay for new versions, as well as branded homeware for next to nothing.
Accessorise your new look with royal-approved replicas of priceless jewellery, such as the Coronation necklace and earrings worn by the Queen, which were originally made by Garrard for Queen Victoria in the 1800s (royalcollectionshop.co.uk) or £35 copies of a pair of Kate’s earrings.
You can even smell like a royal for less. One of Kate Middleton’s favourite perfumes, Orange Blossom by Jo Malone, is £108 for a 100ml bottle of cologne. But you can buy the body and hand wash for £32, which will leave the scent on your skin, or there’s a 2.5g solid scent refill for a bargain £15 (jomalone.co.uk).