Outside Ken Lane’s Saanich home, the Monarchist League of Canada’s crown-emblazoned golden flag blows in the wind. Inside, Princess Diana rubs elbows with Charles Dickens over an imaginary cup of tea.
|Ken Lane, former director of the Royal London Wax Museum, hopes to see wax figure tourism revived, a decade after the museum closed. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
It’s one of the more unusual scenes created for the potential arrival of Meghan and Harry – but Lane’s wax figures have been in “discussion” for weeks over the couple’s potential abandonment of their royal positions.
Lane once operated Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum, an attraction boasting more than 300 wax figures modeled after politicians, celebrities, folklore characters, historical figures and, of course, royals.
“The most popular storytelling part of the museum was Henry VIII and his six wives,” Lane recalled. “But the most significant, regal wax figure was the Queen Mother. The way she was positioned, the way the lighting would hit her, the way she was glowed and the tiara that she wore. Everything about that figure was just perfect.”
And Lane seems to have a deep connection with the figures. He could sense when something was amiss in the museum.
“One day something didn’t feel right,” he said. “I went most of the way through the museum before I realized Elvis Presley had tipped over.”
In 2010 – after 50 years in operation – the museum shut down. Now most of the glass-eyed, human-haired, beeswax figures are stored in Lane’s climate-controlled basement. There is a potential for melting, but Lane said the figures – which can run for more than $30,000 each – are created with a preservative that aids sculpting and raises the melting temperature.
Notably, each human hair is inserted strand by strand.
At the behest of interested media, a small group of the figures were brought up for tea around Lane’s dining room table, shortly after he learned of the possibility that a certain young Royal couple might be moving to Vancouver Island.
Princess Diana gazes across the table at Winston Churchill and his bulldog, both seated next to Captain Cook. Across from the captain is Charles Dickens, and on either end sit royal matriarchs, Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria, both in glittering crowns and regal attire.
|Wax figures Charles Dickens, Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth II enjoy tea with Winston Churchill, Captain Cook and Queen Victoria in Ken Lane's Saanich home. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
So far, he says the group hasn’t had much to comment about Harry and Meghan’s decision to distance themselves from royal life.
“They won’t talk while we’re here,” Lane said with a laugh.
Lane remains hopeful there will be a wax figure revival. He said he has looked at properties around Canada including a handful in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and B.C., but hasn’t found anything suitable.
“We’ve been kinda slow at finding a new home but it’s also a process of trying different locations and checking out the real estate and tourism market,” he said. “Hope springs eternal. It really depends on the city and the building that you end up in.”
For now, the wax figures represent a moment in the history of Victoria tourism. But any one of them might be lucky enough to come out of storage and share a cup of tea with their dedicated owner and advocate.
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