HUNTER Valley collector Jan Hugo will spend countless hours dusting Princess Diana plates, dolls and tea cups today in honour of the royal lady who started it all.
Mrs Hugo is the owner of one of Australia’s largest private collections of British royal memorabilia and has been collecting for 32 years.
‘‘I started collecting when my first daughter was born. We were given a coin to commemorate Diana and Charles’s engagement,’’ she said.
‘‘Diana has always been the special one when it comes to the royal family.’’
An entire room in the collection is dedicated to the "People’s Princess" and it will be open today as part of the 16th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death.
Princess Diana and her millionaire companion Dodi Fayed were killed when the Mercedes they were travelling in crashed in a tunnel in Paris on August 31, 1997.
A grandmother-of-three, Mrs Hugo already had an extensive royal collection when she purchased half of south coast collector Janet Williams’s display in February.
The effectively doubled Mrs Hugo own collection bringing it close to 10,000 items.
Janet Williams ran Janet’s Royalty Rooms as a tourist attraction at Woonona on the South Coast for 10 years before retiring.
The collection featured on several television programs including productions by the BBC and drew coachloads of visitors to Woonona.
Mrs Williams offered Wollongong City Council "first right of refusal" to purchase the collection, reportedly for $350,000.
Thousands of items - plates, thimbles, teaspoons, figurines and teacups - were transported to the Hunter Valley in two trucks, one for delicate items.
Mrs Hugo now operates tours by appointment through her own home at Nulkaba near Cessnock.
Her husband Dave, who is an electrician in the mining industry, jokes that he is an electrician by day and ‘‘royal servant’’ by night.
‘‘We get in our slippers with the queen and watch television,’’ Mrs Hugo said.
A life-size dummy of the queen sits in the couple’s loungeroom while ‘‘Camilla’’ is in the nearby kitchen making tea.
To visit the Hunter Valley collection phone Jan on 4990 4224.