April 22, 2011 -- From commemorative plates to imitation engagement rings, it seems like everyone wants a little piece of the upcoming royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. But they'll have to get in line behind Margaret Tyler, proprietor of what is perhaps the largest collection of royal paraphernalia in all of Britain.
Over the past 30 years, Tyler has amassed over 10,000 trinkets commemorating the lives of the royals. Neatly organized and strictly categorized, her collection fills every corner of her London home. Each royal family member is given his or her own section of the house. Prince Charles occupies the dining room. Prince Andrew? Under the stairs. But, of course, it's the Queen Mother who holds the place of honor -- front and center in the den.
"I just enjoy collecting on the royal family," Tyler said. "It's just such a fascinating subject."
For us, of course, the fascination lies in Tyler's adoration. Her home is so packed with memorabilia that it's difficult not to describe her as a hoarder. And the commemorative items themselves can be eerie -- she has a Prince William baby doll, a mock throne, and even a jar of jelly infused with a piece of Princess Diana's hair. Tyler's home has become a bit of a tourist destination, drawing in royalty-obsessed visitors from the United States and Japan.
Tyler has tried to meet several of her royal idols. She once had the opportunity to meet Queen Elizabeth, but found herself at a loss for words. "She makes me feel very emotional and I'm scared I'm going to burst into tears...and I just want to say, 'Thank you, thank you for what you've done for us,' but I would just die if I did. Just die."
Tyler met Princess Diana six weeks before her death, when she opened up a children's ward at a local hospital. At the time, Tyler was wearing a rosette emblazoned with the princess's face.
"She threw back her head and laughed when she saw it and said, 'Oh you have got it bad,'" Tyler said.
Tyler had wanted to build a William-and-Kate conservatory onto her house, but was denied permission by her local planning department. Instead, she's set her sights on the house next door, where she'll expand her royal collection if it goes up for sale.
And guess where she'll be on wedding day? Front and center, as close as she can get to Westminster Abbey. Look out for Tyler when you're watching the day's events on TV -- sorry, Kate, but she'll be the happiest woman in London.