William and Kate on a plate makes for big business. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Julie Deneve/RTL.be)

Prince William and Princess Kate were married in London’s Westminster Abbey on Friday, an occasion that was impossible to escape thanks to the modern media blitz. Despite any royal wedding over-saturation, however, Philip Stephens of Financial Times suggests that this is a time for the United Kingdom to bask in the international limelight. Not only is the union of “Will & Kate” entertaining theater, but along those lines, Stephens makes a case that the British monarchy actually still matters.

Poignant soap opera moves merchandise

True, Prince William and Kate Middleton’s royal wedding was made all-the-more poignant by the presence of the wedding ring once worn by William’s mother, Diana Spencer. The pageantry of open carriages and ancient customs still hold weight among throngs of admirers, as the power and grand spectacle associated with royalty lives on.

Historian Tristram Hunt wrote for Financial Times that over two billion royal wedding watchers can’t be wrong: the “soft power” of Britain matters a great deal, not in terms of political power, but as a “commodity and brand vehicle for Britishness.” Westminster Abbey’s history, the hymns of the Book of Common Prayer, the grandeur of Buckingham Palace and a shining cavalcade of foreign dignitaries and celebrity guests all add up to an occasion that sells the monarchy, the British Isles and boatloads of royal wedding merchandise.

Not a bust, but a boon

Even cynics like novelist Will Self, who once exclaimed that the British monarchy “infantilizes the public and squats like a fat toad atop the still-existent hierarchy of class in British society” cannot deny that the royal wedding of William and Kate is an economic boon for the U.K., and the institution of British monarchy makes that possible. Yes, the wedding cost was estimated at $64 million (£38.3 million), but various sources project that the boost through royal wedding merchandise and tourism could bring over $1 billion (£620 million) to the British economy. A hefty portion – millions of pounds – of the wedding bill was footed by William’s father, Prince Charles, while Kate Middleton’s industrialist parents paid at least $163,000, according to the Vancouver Sun.

Economic austerity, come again some other day

Global recession has not been kind to the average British commoner, a fact that recently prompted Chancellor George Osborne to declare that Britain has “maxed out on the national credit card.” Stephens recognizes that the royal family must pay heed to the weight economic austerity places upon the shoulders of commoners, but at the same time, he’s able to call a spade a spade when a high-ranking official like Osborne shovels such economically illiterate fear mongering. So long as commemorative merchandise changes hands, jellybeans in Kate’s image light up the auction block and tourists flock to the so-called fairytale land of British royals, all is not lost, economically speaking.


Daily Mail: http://bit.ly/a9nt9u
Financial Times: http://on.ft.com/mC2u0c
MSNBC: http://bit.ly/eq2KZX
Vancouver Sun: http://bit.ly/krtHkv

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