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Hi Okaasan,

I thought it's a common expression.

Below is the context.
I guess it means "It's too late to change"

Like Diana, Charlene clearly had her doubts. But while Diana's were expressed in private to her sister, who dismissed them as "too late" since her "face was already on the tea towels", Charlene's were on full display.

Thank you.

I've never heard the expression either.

If it is a fixed expression, it must be a British one since a 'tea towel' would be called a 'dishtowel' in American English.

Apparently, in Britain, tea towels are sold that have images of royal couples on them:
royal tea towels

I assume that the sentence refers to this fact. So, I would guess that the sentence means that Diana's reservations about marrying Charles (right before the wedding) were "too late" because souvenir tea towels were already being sold that had a picture of Charles and Diana on them.
Last edited by Amy, Co-Moderator
Your guess sounds good, Harry. I found the expression here, used in a similar way:

Diana never stood a chance. As we know from Andrew Morton's book, the night before Diana's wedding -- having heard that Charles had sent Camilla a present -- she talked to her sister about calling it off. "Too late, Duchess," came the reply, "your face is on the tea towels and the teacups."

Kate Middleton's face is on the tea towels and the teacups but with her prince charming they stand a great chance of happiness within the Firm, as the Royal Family is known.

I agree with Amy that this must be something British.
Last edited by Okaasan, Co-Moderator
It's not a standard expression and I suspect it simply means exactly what it appears to mean in Harry and Amy's explanations... If the account is to be believed, Diana's sister (who seems to have been the originator of the expression) told her that plans were too advanced to call them off, citing (probably as a joke) the fact that Diana's face had been already printed on many types of souvenirs, including tea-towels.

I don't believe the expression has caught on beyond the printed account. I've never heard it used.

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