Royal Wedding could cost UK economy $50 billion

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LONDON - Except for the crowds and the gowns and the jewelry - on a certain level royal weddings over the years have been like many others. But royal weddings are different in one special way, as CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reports: They all claim to be good business, or so we're told.

Special Section: The Royal Wedding

Jacqueline French, of London and Partners Tourism Promoters, says, "There's a here's a huge opportunity in London that comes from hosting such an event as the royal wedding. In fact if we have the same number of visitors who came to the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981, which was around 600,000 people, we could have an economic benefit to the capital of around 30 to 50 million pounds."

That's about $80 million spent by all the people who come to eat, sleep and make merry in one of the world's most expensive cities. Some tourists say they're spending $1,000 a day in London. That's before buying all the mugs, plates, dish towels, bags, cushions, stamps, pillows, playing cards, champagne glasses and biscuits - which can be sent anywhere in the world.

(Beware of those mugs made in China which suffer from brotherly confusion.The mugs mistakenly have Prince Harry, not William next to Kate.)

Pictures: Royal Souvenirs

But all the pomp is expensive. The royals, known as "the firm" because they are a business, receive a government grant of about $13 million a year to cover expenses. But the public cost of the wedding far exceeds that.

Extra policing and overtime alone is estimated at more than $35 million. Here's a further cost - when all the people are celebrating, they're not working. And because the wedding holiday falls between two long holiday weekends in England, you can take 11 days off by burning only three days of vacation time.

Economists have actually done the math. "Invariably that leads to a loss of output," said Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec. "So, in terms of the impact on GDP in the economy we're suggesting that it could knock something like a quarter percent off growth."

That translates into a potential loss to the economy of about $50 billion. It better be a heck of a party.

  • Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips is CBS News senior foreign correspondent, based in London.