Royal wedding the boost Britain needs
The marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton is likely to give Britain a much-needed shot in the arm as it battles to rein in its huge deficit with austerity measures.
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.
Even the royals are feeling the pinch, with Queen Elizabeth's state funding frozen once again at 1990 levels and the staff Christmas Party scrapped.
But a once-in-a-generation royal wedding of the 28-year-old second-in-line to the throne and his attractive girlfriend, complete with the glamour of a state occasion and the whirlwind of excitement surrounding it should provide a splash of colour in the gloom.
"It's great to have a piece of unadulterated good news that everyone can celebrate," Prime Minister David Cameron said when asked about the need for Britain to pull together.
"I'm sure it will be something when the country will come together," he said, adding that it would be a "great day of national celebration".
The boost in productivity surrounding nationally-shared events is well documented, from royal weddings to a good run for the England team at the football World Cup.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg spoke about what the "wonderful" occasion would mean for Britain in the so-called age of austerity.
"There are lots of things which people are getting a bit gloomy at the moment but what I think is so wonderful is that everybody will be united in delight and joy about this," he said.
"That's something that we've all got to look forward to."
David Cottle, a columnist with Dow Jones Newswires, said that with Britain "in trouble... it's time to play the last ace".
"A royal wedding will be a big money spinner for a UK economy somewhat short of them," he wrote.
"Think of the memorabilia, the magazines, the tourist tat adorned with pictures of the happy couple; billions of pounds worth coming right up."
Previous big royal occasions, such at that of William's parents Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, Queen Elizabeth's coronation in 1953 or the jubilees of 1977 and 2002, have seen huge celebrations across the country.
Such events also generate greater interest in the royals, who are one of the biggest draws for foreign tourists visiting Britain.
Sandie Dawe, chief executive of tourism agency VisitBritain, said the wedding would be "an enormous boost for the British tourism industry".
"In a typical year the places, events and history associated with the monarchy generate well over 500 million pounds (800 million dollars, 600 million euros) in revenue for the British tourism industry. We would expect that in a royal wedding year we would do even better than that.
"The youth and vigour of the couple is very attractive. Millions of people around the world are certain see the wedding as the perfect moment to come to Britain to see the young royals and our much-loved queen."
The news came as British annual inflation hit a four-month high of 3.2 percent in October, far higher than the Bank of England's target rate of 2.0 percent.
With the economic recovery slowing, analysts said interest rates hikes were a long way off.
Cameron's government last month unveiled the country's harshest spending cuts in decades.
It plans to axe half a million public sector jobs as it seeks to slash Britain's record deficit totalling almost 155 billion pounds.
© 2010 AFP