Can a Royal Wedding Save This Tiny Economy?

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The story sounds strikingly familiar: a prince born and raised as an heir to the throne, a famous mother dying in a tragic car accident, a commoner marrying into wealth and royalty. But, we’re not talking about the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Royal Wedding: The Sequel

The hype around newlyweds Prince William and Kate Middleton may finally be dying down, but don’t put away your wide-brimmed hats and parasols just yet, because royal wedding season is still in full swing. Prince Albert II of Monaco, the son of Grace Kelly, and former South African Olympic swimmer, Charlene Wittstock, are to wed this weekend in an extravagant two-day ceremony.

And if you thought William and Kate’s $32 million wedding was over-the-top (read all the details here), take a look at the itinerary for Prince Albert’s upcoming nuptials:

  • A musical performance by The Eagles
  • A sound and light show over Port Hercules by synthpop musician, Jean-Michel Jarre
  • A-list guests including Nikolas Sarkozy and Naomi Campbell
  • 200 BMWs to carry around the guests
  • A giant fireworks display and royal ball
  • $6800-a-night suite for the newlyweds

An Economic Necessity

You may scoff at the wedding’s $68 million price tag, but the planners view the ceremony as much more than just another star-studded social event. Monaco hopes that public attention on the royal wedding will provide a needed jumpstart to the country’s ailing economy, which was hit earlier this year by the financial crisis as well as worker strikes.The 200,000 people expected to visit Monaco during the weekend will hopefully boost the tourism sector, and small businesses are profiting from wedding souvenirs ranging from 18 carat gold trinkets to silk fans.

A State Necessity

The marriage of Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock brings hope that the royal couple will provide an heir for Monaco. Prince Albert, who already has a son and daughter born out of wedlock, needs to produce a legitimate heir to carry on the Grimaldi dynasty.

A small state of a mere 35,000 people, Monaco is famous for being a tax haven, with the majority its citizens–rich foreign expatriates–exempt from paying income taxes. As a result, Monaco’s financial sector is reliant on the international fortunes stored in their banks and on stability within the state. Without an heir to the Grimaldi family, rule over Monaco could be returned to France. With the 53-year-old Prince Albert finally tying the knot, you might hear a collective sigh of relief this weekend.

Image credit: esther1616/Flickr