Ah, to be royalty.
Aside from the all-expense paid trips and multiple ladies-in-waiting, lavish royal wedding bills are usually footed by the taxpayers. The public traditionally pays for everything from the queen-to-be's wedding gown to the flowers, food, live choir and orchestra. For reference, Diana and Prince Charles's wedding clocked in at £30 million ($48 million USD).
So when a royal wedding takes place during a time when the British public is facing austerity cuts from a cash-strapped government, it’s a bit of an etiquette conundrum (and if there’s one thing that the British care about, it’s etiquette).
If you thought you had trouble with your wedding costs, try figuring out who should pay when it’s Prince William and his princess-to-be Kate Middleton walking down the aisle.
What’s The Precedent?
There are questions of how the majority of Britons, who are suffering in the economy, will take to witnessing such an extravagant affair.
When Diana, who came from a long line of aristocracy, married the Prince of Wales, her father Earl Spencer paid for her £9,000 wedding dress. But there is no evidence that the “common” families of Sophie Rhys-Jones, who married Prince Edward, and Sarah Ferguson, who married Prince Andrew, made similar contributions.
Two earlier royal weddings, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s wedding in 1947 and Charles and Diana’s nuptials in 1981, did not fully rely on taxpayers.
The “Commoners” Step Up.
The Middletons, who run a family party supply business, have graciously offered to pay for a small part of the wedding. (Bear in mind that the average non-royal wedding costs "just" $30,000.) A senior aid called them “extremely generous,” though quite how generous this upper-middle-class family will be remains to be seen. Complicating the guessing game is the fact that no one knows the exact extent of the Middletons’ fortune.
(You may think that it’s convenient that the Middletons specialize in party supplies, but the British press has scoffed at the quality of the Middletons’ party favors. Don't plan to see them in Westminster Abbey.)
The British are wont to refer to the Middletons as “commoners,” but Kate leads a more than comfortable lifestyle by American standards, going to private school and an expensive college after growing up in a large home.
What Could They Cover?
- One of the royal wedding cakes: £10,000 to £50,000 ($16,000 to $80,000)
- Kate’s dress: £40,000+ ($64,000+)
- The honeymoon: Unknown, but a rather tame trip to Australia is possible.
The Queen Pitches In
In order to appease a public suffering from an economic downturn, the Queen and Prince Charles have decided to foot most of the rest of the celebrations from their own accounts, rather than from the public coffers. Those costs will include:
- Flowers for Westminster Abbey: £200,000 to £500,000 ($320,000 to $800,000)
- Accommodations at the Goring Hotel for guests: $67,000+ to take over the hotel.
- Receptions, including decorations, music and food. Undisclosed six figure sum.
The Public Does Their Part
Finally, there are questions of how the majority of Britons, who are suffering in the economy, will take to witnessing such an extravagant affair.
The taxpayers will still pony up the costs for expenses like security detail, and the clean up after the festivities.
- Estimated security costs: £5 million to £20 million ($8 million to $32 million)
- Street cleanup: £40,000 ($64,000)
A Boost To The Economy?
Retailers in England are eager to cash in on the national holiday with commemorative plates, beer, hotel packages, and even an eco-friendly nail polish called No More Waity, Katy. The government will pour money into encouraging tourism around the event, hoping to boost Britain’s flagging economy. While this doesn't factor into the actual costs of the wedding, with the special day declared a national holiday, it won’t be a net win for the economy:
- Estimated boost of memorabilia sales and tourism: £1 billion. ($1.6 billion)
- Estimated cost of national holiday to economy: £5 billion to £7.9 billion. ($8 billion to $12.6 billion)
Doesn’t this make budgeting for your own wedding seem so simple?
Image Credits, from top: Oldmaison/Flickr and americanistadechiapas/Flickr
GIVEAWAY ALERT: Frommer's has generously offered to give away a few copies of "The Royal Wedding" eBook, an insider guide to the royal wedding, along with guides for where Kate likes to shop and where the couple likes to hang out in London.
To win a copy, leave a comment telling us who you think should pay for the wedding. We'll choose the winners at the end of the week who will all receive an e-copy.
EDITOR'S NOTE: We apologize for the error in the original version of this article. Thanks to our readers who aptly pointed out that Princess Diana was married to Prince Charles, not Prince Edward.