The British are masters of pomp and pageantry, especially when it comes to their Royal Family. The former Empire has shrunk to a few islands and ceremonial roles in some nations, but the Windsors garner more interest than any other royals in Europe and elsewhere. And considering “Prince Henry of Wales” will be the last major British royal to wed for the next couple of decades at least, he has certainly done his bit by falling in love with and marrying an American.
While there is no doubt that Meghan Markle has genuinely captivated her red-haired prince – and is, in turn, quite besotted herself—the fortuitousness of their love story cannot be doubted by the analysts looking at the economic prospects of post-Brexit Britain. The wedding itself is expected to cost a modest (by Indian luxury wedding standards) 2 million pounds excluding security, but is expected to generate 500 million pounds worth of business for the British economy.
The knock-on economic effect of this transcontinental pairing will be felt at least for the next decade or so on both sides of the Atlantic, as the newly anointed – and first –American Princess continues her links to her birthplace. Considering they fought Britain for their independence in 1776, it is amusing that Americans are today the biggest fans of these descendants of King George III, who sent British troops to (unsuccessfully) subdue the American Revolution.
There is nothing quite like a royal wedding in Britain to keep the tills ringing long after the peals of the wedding bells waft away. Their effect on fashion and lifestyle—even before the advent of 24/7 media—has been manifest ever since the 20-year-old Queen Victoria wed Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg Gotha wearing the first-ever white silk and lace bridal dress and they cut a 150 kg, 9ft wide wedding cake, a surviving slice of which was auctioned in 2016 for $2,100.
Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s wedding in 2011 reportedly cost less than Harry and Meghan’s will today, even though it was held in a grander venue—Westminster Abbey instead of St George’s Chapel at Windsor—and had more than double the guests at the ceremony. And as the Duchess of Cambridge’s sartorial choices for herself and her children since then have led to those items selling out almost instantly, the return on that investment has been high.
Anti-monarchists have demanded that Queen Elizabeth II should foot the 30 million pound security costs. But as Meghan will now become an indirect revenue stream for fashion and lifestyle brands in Britain and around the world, it’s a piffling demand. Not only will even more American tourists flock to Britain now that one of their gals is a “real live princess”, Meghan is poised to fill the gap left by Michelle Obama as the “woman of colour” style icon in US too.
Cynics would point out that the Harry-Meghan duo are already carving out a separate niche for themselves, to create a broad coalition with William and Kate. As the latter are now regarded as stylish traditionalists, the newly-weds will probably be seen as the relatively iconoclastic alternative, eagerly adopting new practices and departing from convention—albeit in inoffensive ways—thus saving the Royal Family from being eventually regarded as anachronisms.
Indeed, it can be said that the Royal Family is certainly doing its bit –even if unwittingly or unintentionally—to shore up Britain as it prepares to leave the EU. The Windsors will maintain familial and social links with the crowned heads of Europe regardless of what elected governments do, and an articulate, savvy, providentially bi-racial and socially conscious American princess in their ranks will certainly bring Britain closer to the US and even Canada at many levels.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.