Of course I’m writing this while wearing my fancy wedding hat, pondering if I’ll DVR the whole Royal Wedding or just watch endless news clips. It reminds me of the time an US Magazine subscription mysteriously appeared at our house and we (the newspaper household) did nothing to stop it--you know it’s a celebrity fest, but you just want to look! And who doesn’t love a wedding?
A day off in England costs the economy
Analysts say the national holiday for the big day could cost $10 billion in lost productivity. Souveneir sales and tourist spending aside, England’s economy is still recovering from a recession and unemployment hit a 17-year high recently with about 2.5 million people out of work (about 7.8%).
The monarchy in general costs the economy
While Will’s and Kate’s families are picking up the wedding tab, the royal family receives an annual allowance from the British government. Years ago the monarchy struck a deal to turn over revenues from royal properties (like Buckingham Palace) to the government in exchange for annual financial support. CNBC did a great break down of how this relationship works.
In 2009 the Queen received about $60 million (62 pence per taxpayer) from the government, which the monarchy highlights was lower than the year before thanks to cutbacks in chartered plane flights. The Queen’s official site says she pays taxes--voluntarily--and has since 1992. In terms of work, the Queen makes appearances as England’s Head of State and Prince William is a member of the military.
The government support is separate from the monarchy’s own personal wealth built on investments and properties. Forbes pegs the Queen’s net worth at $450 million.
The wedding also spotlights the monarchy amid questions about its role in a modern world
There are about 35 constitutional monarchies around the world. And while largely ceremonial in England, meaning the Queen has very few official duties, it’s controversial.
One pro-democracy, anti-monarchy group called The Republics is hosting a “not the Royal Wedding” street party on Friday in London. Per their Web site, they want three things: “a republican constitution, the right to a democratic head of state and an end to the monarchy.” Polls show a decreasing number of people believe the monarchy will exist in 100 years.
The face of the modern monarchy
If nothing else, the monarchy, which dates back to the 1600s, is trying to modernize itself. They have a host of informative Web sites, including one for Prince William and Prince Harry, an official wedding Web site, a YouTube channel, a Facebook events page, and of course, they’re Tweeting. Plenty of places to follow the pomp and circumstance.