Most weddings blow a hole in the happy couple’s finances, but the royal extravaganza is predicted to have delivered a much needed boost to the UK’s beleaguered economy.
The tourist authority VisitBritain predicts the wedding, a worldwide TV event, will trigger a tourism boom that will last several years, eventually pulling in an extra 4m visitors and some £2bn for the country’s coffers.
In the short term, the accountancy firm PwC estimates the influx of wedding watchers delivered a £107m boost to London, as hotels, West End shops and restaurants picked up extra trade.
The British Retail Consortium forecast that shops and pubs will benefit by nearly £500m. With 5,500 street parties in full swing the biggest beneficiaries were the supermarkets, as people piled their tables with patriotic nosh such as sausage rolls, Coronation chicken and Victoria sponge. Sales of Wills and Kate merchandise, which ranged from mugs and tea towels to union flag contact lenses, were put at £26m.
Middleton’s entry into the royal family has made her fashion’s hottest property, rather like Michelle Obama, whose patronage delivered a .7bn boost to her favourite labels. High street chains Reiss and Whistles have already enjoyed the benefits, after the bride wore their clothes in her official engagement photos.
While the royal household and to a lesser extent the Middletons paid for the fun parts – the abbey service, flowers, dresses, carriage procession, dinner, and a wedding breakfast for 600 at Buckingham Palace paid for by the Queen – the rest of us paid for the £7m security operation. No new money was provided by the government and the police had to pay for the extra manpower out of existing budgets.
The feast of pageantry cost the taxpayer £10m in total. The other £3m was spent by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which organised everything from the flags and balloons lining the route to press access and stewarding. However, the department does expect to claw back much of its costs, as broadcasters had to fork out £60,000 for coveted pitches with a backdrop of Buckingham Palace.
The department also faces costs for tidying up afterwards, as much of the procession took place in royal parks which are within its remit. Westminster city council said its share of the clean-up bill was £30,000-£40,000.
Aside from the cost of the wedding itself, some City analysts worried that the extra day off was one bank holiday too many for the stuttering economy.
The Confederation of British Industry calculates that a bank holiday costs the economy £6bn in lost productivity and overtime, but the government thinks the impact will be far less. The day off for Queen’s golden jubilee in 2002 affected growth and economists at the Royal Bank of Scotland suggested the late Easter combined with the royal wedding could shave between 0.1 and 0.2 percentage points off growth in the second quarter.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010