Thursday 22 March 2018

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding could provide a £500m boost to Britain's economy

Alexi Lubomirski
Alexi Lubomirski

Erich Zann

American actress Meghan Markle's wedding to the UK's Prince Harry could provide a £500m boost to Britain's economy as tourists flock to the country and Britons celebrate, according to an estimate.

Harry, Queen Elizabeth's grandson and fifth-in-line to the throne, will tie the knot with Ms Markle on May 19 at Windsor Castle, the royal palace home of British kings and queens for almost 1,000 years.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the wedding of Harry's elder brother William to wife Kate in April 2011 led to an increase of 350,000 visitors to the UK compared to the same month the year before. Business valuation consultancy Brand Finance predicted a similar surge in May.

In total, it estimates the nuptials will generate some £500m.

"We think approximately £200m will come from tourism, travel, hotels," the company's chief executive David Haigh told Reuters.

About £150m would be spent on people having parties and celebrating with 50 million coming from people buying T-shirts, hats and other commemorative items, he said.

The wedding would also be worth about £100m in free advertising for Britain around the world, he added.

Businesses in Windsor are already gearing up to take advantage of the worldwide interest in the couple, with Harry, 33, one of the most popular members of the British royal family and Markle, 36, best known for her starring role in the TV legal drama "Suits", providing some Hollywood sparkle.

"It's going to be a massive boost for the economy, it's going to be great to see so many people here for the wedding and actually to host the wedding itself," said Andrew Lee, manager of the Harte and Garter hotel opposite Windsor Castle.

British tourism bosses are already predicting 2018 to be a bumper year for the industry, aided by a fall in the value of the pound since the 2016 vote to leave the European Union which has attracted visitors and deterred Britons from holidaying abroad.

Tourism agency VisitBritain estimates that 41.7 million visits from overseas will be made to the United Kingdom in 2018. (Reuters)

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