Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle 'set to boost UK economy'

Analysts predict that 2018's royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle could be worth at least £500 million for the British economy.
The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is expected to provide a boost to Britain's economy.
The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is expected to provide a boost to Britain's economy. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - Prince Harry's wedding to American actress Meghan Markle could provide a £500 million (S$902 million) boost to Britain's economy as tourists flock to the country and Britons celebrate, according to an estimate.

Prince 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 Prince 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 and business valuation consultancy Brand Finance predicted a similar surge in May.

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

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

About £150 million 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 £100 million 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 Prince Harry, 33, one of the most popular members of the British royal family and Ms 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 Mr 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 vacationing abroad.

VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, estimates that 41.7 million visits from overseas will be made to the UK in 2018, generating £26.9 billion in the process.