Who pays for a royal wedding -- and how much does it cost?

The happy couple is planning an expensive wedding. Who's picking up the tab?
The happy couple is planning an expensive wedding. Who's picking up the tab?
Photo by Mario Testino/Clarence House Press Office via Getty Images

Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding is sure to be the event of the decade, if not the century. A ceremony at Westminster Abbey, followed by a carriage ride for the newlywed couple and a reception at Buckingham Palace all add up to a royal event that will be talked about for years to come. However, the focus of many British taxpayers will be how much it all costs.

Unfortunately, it's not going to be an easy question to answer. Royal weddings are notoriously extravagant, and any commoner can tell you that this one is going to be pretty pricey. How pricey, you ask? Well, despite the fact that neither Middleton nor her royal beau have ever cut an album or starred in a feature film (no, William's brother's antics don't count), their ceremony is widely expected to be one of the most expensive celebrity weddings of all time.

But the British citizenry can breathe a sigh of relief, as they're not going to be footing the bill. Both the queen and Prince Charles have agreed to "pay their share," though in the past, public funds have been used to finance royal events. While we're not quite sure how much "their share" will be, exactly, we're pretty confident they're going to pick up the vast majority of the total wedding tab. Tradition dictates that the bride's family pay for the ceremony, and Kate's parents have insisted on contributing, but this is one bash even those respectable millionaires can't afford.

Most realistic estimates place the final cost for the wedding around 12 million pounds, all of which will be covered by private funds. However, the state may have to pay a hefty sum to cover public services like increased police presence for security and traffic detail.

But don't start crying for our friends across the pond just yet. Yes, the marriage could be considered a burden on the British taxpayer, and for some it will be. For others, it's a once-in-a-lifetime an opportunity. Find out how people are taking advantage of William and Kate's union on the next page.

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