Pressure mounts for a non-lavish royal wedding
Couple will be ‘mindful of the economic situation’ - but will either father chip in?
News of the impending royal wedding may have caused the Cabinet to bang the table in delight, as David Cameron reported, and it may even have "delighted the world", as the BBC was claiming this morning. But there are pressure groups arguing that the taxpayer should not have to foot an expensive bill in these austere times, even if they might enjoy the spectacle.
One lobby group - the anti-monarchist outfit Republic - has demanded that the Royal Family should "cough up" the entire cost of next year's ceremony.
Graham Smith of Republic said: "It is not for the taxpayer to pay for any part of this event.
"If people are being told to tighten their belts, if the government is making thousands unemployed, if welfare payments are being slashed, it would be sickening for the government to allow a single penny more to be spent on the Royals at this time.
"Spending public money on this wedding or affording it any special status would be no more appropriate than if it were Ed Miliband's wedding. This is a private occasion."
Why he would bring the Labour party leader into the argument is a puzzle - Miliband has indicated he will one day marry the mother of his two children, but has not suggested, as far as The First Post is aware, that he's expecting a state wedding.
The Taxpayer's Alliance, the group that campaigns against government waste, believes it is reasonable for William and Kate, as a future King and Queen, to have a state wedding - but it must not be overly lavish when public finances are under pressure.
"It would show them as being out of touch with ordinary taxpayers, many of whom are struggling with the rising cost of living," said campaign director Emma Boon. "Of course it should be an event for the whole nation to celebrate, but ordinary taxpayers should not be left with a bill fit for a king."
A spokesman for the Prince of Wales has responded that the happy couple would be "mindful of the economic situation". But he did not say whether the groom's father would be chipping in.
If he can be persuaded to, his finances are in rude health. His accounts for the year to the end of March 2010 showed a surplus after official costs of £8m.
No one has yet argued that the father of bride, Michael Middleton, should do the traditional thing and pay the wedding bill - though that could come.
Suffice to say that hiring St Paul's (or wherever), providing ample security and laying on a wedding breakfast that would meet the high standards of his daughter's notoriously picky father-in-law, might require an EU bailout for the Middletons.
Now, there's a thought. ·
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