The economics of a royal wedding

The people call for a bank holiday as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle plan the wedding next year.


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have ended months of speculation
(Image credit: 2017 Getty Images)

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.

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

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.

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri