What's a few million pounds here or there?
As the UK gears up for the big day, officials are hoping for a wedding tourist boom that could give Britain's beleaguered economy a lift (though as we noted in an ealier post, some predictions about a tourist surge are a tad gloomy.)
A story yesterday in the New York Times reports that although the full costs for William and Kate's April 29 nuptials are not currently known, the Royal Family is paying part of the tab.
The royal family is expected to pay for the wedding parties and the bulk of the costs, but the government will have to pay for policing and road closures from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace along a route that will cover 2.25 kilometers, or 1.4 miles.
According to the story, Charles and Diana's wedding cost £30 million in 1981. If you do a straight inflation calculation, that would be roughly £80 million today ($128 million Canadian), though it's a safe bet that policing and security alone is going to cost a lot more in 2011 without factoring in inflation.
Either way, news about the Royal Family's covering many of the wedding costs will be cold comfort for anti-monarchists (a representative from Republic is quoted in the NYT story), who would presumably point out that the Royal Family's share is coming from taxpayers anyway.
If you're curious, the Royal Family posts financial statements on its website, where it points out that its costs have been dropping significantly over the years.
Head of State expenditure has reduced significantly over the past decade, from £87.3 million in 1991-92 (expressed in current pounds) to £38.2 million in 2009-10. In the year 2009-10 The Queen cost the taxpayer just 62 pence per person.
One of the documents on that website lists some of the Queen's duties:
The Civil List finances The Queen’s core duties as head of state. These include:
• undertaking constitutional duties, for example the State Opening of Parliament, regular audiences with the Prime Minister, meetings of the Privy Council, giving Royal Assent to legislation and approving many appointments;
• fulfilling constitutional responsibilities in relation to the Scottish Parliament and, where appropriate, the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies;
• carrying out State and Royal Visits overseas and receiving State and Official visitors to the United Kingdom;
• receiving credentials from foreign Heads of Mission; and
• presenting honours at Investitures.
In addition, the role of The Queen, supported by members of the Royal Family, extends more widely than these formal duties and includes:
• providing a focus for national identity, unity and pride (for example on Remembrance Sunday and at times of national celebration or tragedy);
• providing a sense of stability and continuity (for example by participating in traditional ceremonies such as Trooping the Colour);
• recognising success, achievement and excellence (for example through visits, receptions and awards); and
• contributing through public service and the voluntary sector to the life of the nation; in this area The Queen is particularly supported by the work of other members of the Royal Family (e.g. The Prince’s Trust and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme).
All this for 69 pence per person? Sounds like a bargain to me. And let's not forget that the Royal Family is a well-tuned marketing machine. As part of the Royal Wedding merchandise bonanza, the BBC reported recently that a china shop has even been saved from closure. (And while we're on the subject, we can appreciate a commemorative plate or mug as much as the next person. But condoms? And garden gnomes and sick bags?!)
Purveyors of liquor will no doubt be rejoicing too, with news that bars will be able to stay open later than normal during the Royal Wedding weekend. (Britain's GDP could get a decent boost from that move alone!)
Sounds like 69 pence worth to me.