The economics of a royal wedding

Prince Harry’s decision to marry divorcee Meghan Markle has already prompted calls for a bank holiday on the wedding day. “We love a royal wedding and we are going to celebrate it whether we get the holiday or not,” says Alex Deane in City AM. “If there’s no holiday, we will get the hungover productivity hit anyway, without the recreational spending boost.”

What recreational spending boost? asks Federica Cocco in the FT. The net impact of a holiday is typically negative for economic output, “which tends to suffer when people don’t go to work”. Nor is there much to be said for the wedding effect. “Past royal weddings have had little impact on the economy, or even held back growth, as was the case with Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding in April 2011.”

On that occasion the extra holiday came between Easter and the May Day bank holiday, so people took several days off. Indeed, the Office for National Statistics suggests that Prince William’s nuptials were responsible for a fall of 1.2% in output in services industries and a 1.4% fall in manufacturing production in April, compared with the previous month.

People may suppose a royal wedding entices foreign visitors, adds Sophie Christie in The Daily Telegraph, but the evidence, while not conclusive, doesn’t back up this assumption. Internal emails from VisitBritain, the British tourist board, suggest that overseas visitors “steer clear” of the UK around royal weddings: the marriages of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer in 1981, and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson in 1986, both lowered the number of visitors.

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