In the week following Queen Elizabeth II’s death, the Royal Parks had one small request regarding the tributes being dropped off near Buckingham Palace: Stop leaving Paddington bears and marmalade sandwiches for the queen. As cute as the orphan bear may be, and as delicious as his favorite snack is, neither she nor the team in charge of cleaning up all the tributes wanted them.
At the time, the Royal Parks released explicit guidelines for the kinds of items people should bring to the designated floral-tribute sites. The statement asked that guests hold off on bringing “non-floral objects/artefacts such as teddy bears or balloons” and reminded them to leave flowers without any plastic or nonbiodegradable wrapping so they all may be composted effectively. And while the official guidelines didn’t mention Paddington by name, he was called out on the BBC, which offered “advice” from the Royal Parks, saying, “There are enough Paddingtons and marmalade sandwiches in the parks at the moment.” The presenter continued, “So please, feel free to bring flowers but maybe don’t bring any more Paddingtons or marmalade sandwiches — for now.”
Luckily it seems that Buckingham Palace has found use for all the Paddington bears after all. A month after the queen’s death, Buckingham Palace announced that over 1,000 Paddington bears were being professionally cleaned and donated to Barnardo’s children charity, of which Queen Elizabeth had been a patron for decades before passing it on to Queen Consort Camilla in 2016 (then Duchess of Cornwall). “We are honoured to be able to give homes to the teddies that people left in her memory,” said Larry Perry, Barnardo’s chief executive, per Entertainment Tonight. “We promise to look after these bears who will be well-loved and bring joy to the children we support.”
In an Instagram post announcing the donation, the Royal Family wrote, “The bears have been scrubbed up to look their best, before they are delivered to their new home.” Based on the photo, which shows Queen Consort Camilla surrounded by Paddington teddy bears, the Paddingtons are getting quite the royal treatment before they head to charity.
The queen and Paddington met a few times over the course of her reign. First, in the 1990 storybook Paddington Meets the Queen and again during a sketch celebrating the queen’s Platinum Jubilee earlier this year. The sketch was an instant hit and featured the queen and the beloved bear sharing tea and marmalade sandwiches. Paddington’s official Twitter account paid tribute to Elizabeth after her death, writing simply, “Thank you Ma’am, for everything,” further solidifying their connection. Her relationship with Paddington as well as her well-known love of jam sandwiches (she reportedly ate butter-and-jam sandwiches for afternoon tea every day) made the tribute a no-brainer. For the record, marmalade sandwiches are very compostable, though also, presumably, a tasty snack for rats.
This post has been updated.