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The Toilet Paper So Soft Prince Charles Betrayed the Official Royal Supplier

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist. Photos: Getty Images; Courtesy of the Retailer

For better or for worse, as Strategist editors and writers, we cannot turn off our shopping brains. With “Saw Something, Said Something,” we’ll be writing about the tiniest of details that have caught our eye — status toothpaste in the background of Lizzo’s TikTok, a plant so rare it’s called a Birkin, or a specific face cream in a Roy sibling’s medicine cabinet.

Buried in the seventh paragraph of Alexandra Jacobs’s review of Tina Brown’s The Palace Papers is an especially peculiar detail. Writes Jacobs, “I can’t unsee, somehow, that Charles is said to prefer something called Kleenex Velvet lavatory tissue, unavailable in the States.” What is Kleenex Velvet lavatory tissue? we wondered. Why is it unavailable in the United States? And why would Prince Charles turn his back on the official royal toilet-tissue supplier, Andrex?

Charles’s affinity for Kleenex Velvet was revealed to Brown by Michael Fawcett, former senior valet to the prince. Fawcett was responsible for making sure that an “orthopedic bed, lavatory seat, and Kleenex Velvet lavatory paper, plus two landscapes of the Scottish Highlands” preceded his ex-boss’s arrival when traveling.

We can only speculate as to why the brand appeals to Charles, but it does make a certain kind of sense: He was born in 1948 when “hard toilet paper” was still a thing. Bronco toilet tissue and Izal loo roll (which looks alarmingly like kraft paper) were covered with a “slightly waxy disinfectant coating which made it less than fully absorbent.” Soft toilet paper was associated with American extravagance and craze obsession and wasn’t considered for adoption by the British Civil Service until 1970. All of which might have made Kleenex’s Velvet — which claimed it didn’t iron out softness like competitors, instead using a “revolutionary warm air process” that left it with a “naplike velvet” — especially appealing.

As it turns out, this toilet paper isn’t just unavailable in the United States — it’s unavailable everywhere. The line was discontinued when Kleenex was licensed to SCA Hygiene Products in 1996. However, Velvet toilet tissue, which exists under its own brand, Essity, one half of the SCA Group, is available and purchasable on Amazon U.K. with shipping to the U.S. (for approximately $63 — if you want to wipe like the royals, be prepared to spend like one). Although it’s not the exact lavatory tissue Charles traveled with, we imagine it has the same “naplike velvet.”

[Editor’s note: Amazon U.K. lists its prices in English pounds, so this is an approximation for U.S. dollars.]

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Prince Charles Doesn’t Leave Home Without This Toilet Paper