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Record-breaking royal memorabilia collector flies across world for coronation

A record-breaking owner of one of the largest collections of royal memorabilia in the world has flown from rural Australia to join the crowds in London during the King’s coronation.

Jan Hugo, 64, owns more than 10,000 objects honouring the royal family and has known for months that she would be flying across the world for the “once-in-a-lifetime” event, she told the PA news agency.

Starting in the early 1980s with a coin commemorating the engagement of Charles and his late wife Diana, Ms Hugo has amassed thousands of collectibles dating back to Queen Victoria’s reign, which she displays in her home in Nulkaba in New South Wales.

royal memorabilia collector
Jan Hugo (left) meeting Anita Atkinson (right) in England ahead of the coronation (Jan Hugo/PA)

Ms Hugo, who owns Australia’s largest collection of royal memorabilia, also used her trip to the UK as an opportunity to meet Anita Atkinson, whose museum in Crook, County Durham, houses more than 12,000 items.

Ms Hugo said Ms Atkinson “gave me a big hug as soon as I got out of the car” and showed her Aussie counterpart objects from her impressive collection, which Ms Hugo said was a “lovely” experience.

Ms Hugo explained that she had sent Ms Atkinson a Christmas card and a letter and the English collector got in touch with her and said “come on up”.

She said: “There’s no way I will ever catch up to her because she gets things here for a couple of pounds and for me to get things in Australia, it could be 200 dollars for the same thing.”

royal memorabilia collector
Jan Hugo with items commemorating the King’s coronation (Jan Hugo/PA)

Ms Hugo’s house holding her collectibles – which she said is “just like being in a museum” – opened up to visitors in 2014, before closing after the Covid-19 pandemic meant it “just wasn’t worth it anymore”.

Ms Hugo said tourists would sometimes tell her and her husband David, 66, about their memories of past royal celebrations and the couple was inspired to be among the crowds for the coronation.

She said: “Some of the older people would tell us they remembered Elizabeth’s coronation when they were little children or, you know, their parents went to the coronation.

“We thought, this is our chance now to be a part of history so we can tell our grandchildren that we were there.”

royal memorabilia collector
Items from Jan Hugo’s collection (Jan Hugo/PA)

After travelling to England in 2011, Ms Hugo and her husband had been planning for a long time to fly back to the United Kingdom and saw the coronation of Charles as the perfect time to come.

She said that the morning the date of the coronation was announced “we were on the phone booking the flights and the accommodation”.

She added: “We’ll be too old when William becomes king so it was now or never.”

royal memorabilia collector
Jan’s husband David Hugo (Jan Hugo/PA)

Reflecting on the king’s reign so far, she said: “He certainly had someone who knew what they were doing, and he’s followed in her footsteps so I can’t see why he won’t be a good king.”

She added: “With all the issues that people have had with Camilla, I think it might be really nice to show that she’s now our queen and we should have a little bit more respect for her.”

Not letting the celebrations distract her from growing her collection further, Ms Hugo said she has gathered a “suitcase full” of more royal memorabilia to take back to Australia.