November 17, 2010 / 4:51 PM / 7 years ago

Bets and belt-tightening ahead of UK royal wedding

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal courtiers are already pondering how to tailor the ceremony to the austere times and Britons have started betting in earnest on the likely date for the wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton.

The wedding -- which according to one estimate will boost Britain’s economy by nearly $1 billion -- has been widely hailed as a welcome respite from budget cuts and belt-tightening.

But amidst the celebrations and the flood of congratulations from around the world, it has also raised the awkward question of who should foot the bill.

In their first broadcast interview on Tuesday, William, second in line to the throne after his father Prince Charles, confessed: “We’re like sort of ducks, very calm on the surface with little feet going under the water.”

Buckingham Palace confirmed they were due to sit down with royal advisers to work out the details, but both were tight-lipped on a likely date or whether the ceremony could be held at the kind of regal venues which hosted his father’s and his grandmother’s nuptials.

The queen married at Westminster Abbey. Charles and Diana tied the knot at St Paul’s Cathedral in 1981.

William and Kate, both 28, have so far revealed only that the wedding will take place in either the spring or summer next year with bookmakers tipping July and August as favorites.

July 29 -- the 30th anniversary of the spectacular wedding of his parents Charles and Diana -- is another hot favorite.

The Daily Mail newspaper said royal aides had made “discreet overtures” to senior staff at Westminster Abbey about the possibility of August 12 or 13th.

A spokesman for William said the couple would be “mindful of the economic situation” in a move clearly designed to show the palace remained in touch with the people.

OPINIONS ABROAD

International media also picked up on the economic angle.

The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, Australia, noted that an overly ostentatious occasion would leave a “sour taste.”

But it added: “In a kingdom forced to tighten its belt, a showpiece royal wedding could lift the national mood, giving subjects a glittering event to focus on rather than the coalition government’s spending cuts.”

Canada’s National Post said signs suggested that the British public wanted Queen Elizabeth to foot the bill for the wedding.

Back at home republican sentiment was already beginning to rear its head.

Anti-monarchy group Republic said taxpayers should not pay for the wedding, saying it should be a “private event.”

Stephen Haseler, professor of government at London Metropolitan University, accused the British establishment of using the occasion to distract the public from the downturn.

“They are seeing this as something to distract people from the coming unemployment queues,” he told BBC radio.

But retail researchers Verdict said on Wednesday that the marriage could give a 620 million pound ($985 million) boost to the economy, thanks both to sales of memorabilia and a more general “feel good” effect on consumers.

Editing by Paul Casciato

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