11/09/2011

'Private' royal family wedding costs taxpayers $650,000

Zara

The Mike Tindall-Zara Phillips was supposed to be a nice quiet family affair. Not quite ....

Turns out that Mike Tindall and Pope Benedict have at least one thing in common: They both cost a lot to protect.

The final burden laid on Edinburgh taxpayers for police protection during the Mike Tindall-Zara Phillips wedding day has come in at $650,000 (Cdn). By comparison, the pope’s one-day visit to the city in 2010 had a security bill of $880,000.

The policing costs for the wedding – code-named “Operation Opal” -- were revealed this week in a report to the local police board.

“This seems an astonishing amount of money for what was supposed to be a low-key wedding,” said Sarah Boyack, a Labour member of the Scottish Parliament.

The local taxpayers association echoed the sentiment, calling the bill “worrying” since the wedding was not intended to turn into a public spectacle.

But that’s exactly what happens when you invite the Royal Family to join the celebration. Despite the insistence that the wedding of Princess Anne’s daughter to rugby star Tindall was a “private family affair,” a circus-like frenzy was inevitable, especially with newlyweds Kate and William in attendance.

There were 13 members of the Royal Family at the wedding, including the Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Harry, as well as various local celebrities. Crowds lined the route between the church and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where about 6,000 people waited to get a glimpse of the royals.

The great irony is that Zara, who is 13th in line for the throne, was insistent on keep the affair private, unlike the Kate and William Spectacular of April 29. Actual security costs for that wedding are tough to ascertain, though a London police report this week pegged the amount of extra security costs to taxpayers at $6 million.

The cost of keeping up the Royal Family has long been a sore point with taxpayers, of course. A spokesman for VisitScotland offered this defence:  

“The wedding of Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge earlier in the year, helped to contribute to a bumper summer season for a number of Scotland's regal attractions, with many reporting a spike in visitor numbers as a result of the royal fever which swept the country.” 

PHOTO GALLERY: Tindall-Phillips wedding

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