It’s been estimated that American actress Meghan Markle’s wedding to Prince Harry, scheduled next May 19, will translate into a £500 million boost for the British economy .
The calculation by Brand Finance was based, among other factors, on the fact that the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton triggered a surge in tourism of more than 350,000 visitors.
Similar numbers are expected for the latest royal couple, which mean an influx worth approximately £200 million in tourism, travel, restaurants and hotels, plus a further £150 million calculated from parties and other celebrations and, finally, £50 million more from the sales of T-shirts, hats, banners and other commemorative merchandise adorned with their photos and already displayed in stores around the kingdom.
The boost in tourism is only one among many other expected – and unpredictable – economic twists that will impact the British economy as a result of the global interest in the fairy-tale romance between 33-year-old Prince Harry, fifth in line to the throne and one of the most popular members of the royal household, (and long considered the world’s most eligible bachelor), and the 36-year-old accomplished, bi-racial, divorced American actress and activist who charmed him.
First there’s the obvious: Meghan’s style of fashion, jewelry, and shoes is already affecting the industry just as happens with everything worn by the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and her children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
The impact’s measured in millions of pounds, and has its own name: the “Kate Effect.”
It was calculated in 2015 at £152 million, while the “Charlotte Effect” amounted to £101 million and the “George Effect” to £76 million.
The “Meghan Effect” may give her soon-to-be sister-in-law a run for her money. Fortune Magazine predicts that “Meghan Markle’s ‘Midas Touch’ Could Match Duchess Kate’s.”
Markle is already a trendsetter and labeled “a singular mover of product” since the belted white coat by the Canadian brand Line the Label that she wore during their engagement announcement set off a shopping frenzy and sold out almost immediately.
According to the New York Times: “There is a blog — Meghan’s Mirror — that chronicles her every style choice. Vogue has a piece online titled “Meghan Markle’s Stealth Shopping Style Is All the Black Friday Inspo You Need,” while InStyle crowed “The Nordstrom Black Friday Sale Has Discounts on Meghan Markle’s Favorite Denim Brand.”
Then there was the controversial $75,000 black gown she chose for the official engagement portrait which has become a model copied and offered everywhere on the internet. The price incited charges of extravagance. Whether or not it was a “freebie,” it could be seen negatively either way.
Her fashion choices, as every gesture and every word she utters in public, are now going to matter and to be chronicled for a world avid for details of their ‘Cinderella fairytale-ish’ relationship.
In short, the clothes she decides to wear and the brands she decides to patronize will sell. They’re already analyzed and dissected and in many cases – as with the black gown – acquire symbolic status.
Fashion Editor Vanessa Friedman of the New York Timessaw Markle’s choice of dress as a reflection of the “completely different kind of royal” she will be and her opportunity to further modernize the monarchy.
“She is perfectly aware that everything she wears is going to be under the social media spotlight, so she might as well make it work for her,” Friedman writes. “Even the smallest gestures are going to have a heightened import as the royal family adjusts to a modern identity. Far beyond Britain and the formal royal watchers, many have a special investment in this particular story and how it gets told.”
The shoulders of the relatively short (5’6″), almost-member of the British crown are already carrying outsized expectations of royal experts, columnists and critics. Not only is she presumed to redefine the ‘royal look.’ Given her background, her entry into the House of Windsor is expected to transform the traditional monarchy into a modern institution.
Some columnists have gone still further, expressing hopes that her new royal status will have a positive effect on British-U.S diplomatic and economic relations.
The Duchess of Cambridge style, moderated and discrete, could give way to the “Meghan Era,” synonymous with modernity, unconventionality, difference and change.
Brand Finance sees Meghan’s American citizenship and her one-time Canadian residency as ways to generate “more interest in what’s going on in Britain, the British brands she’s wearing, and any other unofficial endorsements” in those markets.
Until now, she has enjoyed mainly positive media coverage. “The British and wider global public have, generally, reacted highly favorably to the injection of an enthusiastic American into the royal ranks,” writes royal correspondent Tom Sykes.
This initial acceptance has been led by the queen herself who, in a break with protocol, invited Markle to the traditional Christmas celebration and displayed a photo of the newly-engaged couple on her desk during her annual address to the nation. Whether that warm reception lasts remains to be seen.
“Harry and Meghan should not be lulled into a false sense of security,” Sykes warns. “There is already a significant undercurrent of hostility to Meghan circulating in some sections of the British establishment. Blame the blinding glare of new love if you will, but Harry and Meghan seem to be, if not heading for the rocks, at least grazing the odd sand bank.”
As photos and video clips of her most recent public appearances as the prince’s fiancé show, she’s already a main focus of attention for photographers and cameramen. Such was the case during the spectacle of the royal family’s annual Christmas parade between Sandringham estate, the queen’s private residence, and the nearby St Magdalene Church, for their traditional service.
The media focus was on Markle, despite the fact that she was one among her future in-laws, including royal superstars like her fiancé, his brother Will and sister-in-law Kate, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla.
Despite her efforts to mingle with them and smile naturally, she understandably appeared tense and stiff.
After all, the British royals are like movie stars for whom every public appearance is a virtual red carpet experience. Markle’s training as a professional actress undoubtedly will help her make the transition from private citizen to public royal, and with time and coaching she’ll perform with aplomb in every occasion.
For now, though, she’s still an outsider.
Yet, she’s not the only outsider – just the latest. For that reason she won’t escape comparisons with those who came before her.
For some, the closest likeness is with Wallis Simpson, the divorced American socialite whose relationship with Harry’s great-grand-uncle, Edward VIII, in the 1930s almost caused the fall of the monarchy when he abdicated the throne in order to marry her.
After Harry and Meghan went to Monte Carlo to celebrate the new year with friends, the comparisons with Grace Kelly, the Hollywood star who married Prince Rainier of Monaco to become the admired Prince Grace, were all over the media.
She also was compared to Princess Charlene, the South African former Olympic swimmer who married Monaco’s Prince Albert II.
But the closest likeness is with Kate Middleton, a relative newcomer who has transitioned successfully into the fairy-tale of the commoner marrying the prince.
It’s rumored that Meghan and Kate have a good understanding – Markle and Harry stayed with the Cambridges, who have a house in the Sandringham estate during the Christmas celebrations – and royal experts assume that Kate will help guide Meghan through the royal paces.
Despite her current popularity and seeming ease facing the challenges of royal life, Markle will need all the support she can get.
“After all, the 36-year-old is set for a daunting transition,” the Telegraph predicts. “When she marries Prince Harry, Meghan will be trading an acting career and a life of relative freedom for one of public duty, reserve and near-ceaseless waving – and that’s notwithstanding the private pressures of remembering if and when to curtsy to her in-laws.”
Meghan and Harry will get married at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, a favorite residence of Queen Elizabeth, and the main attraction of the picturesque riverside town 20 miles west of London. Harry was christened there. In a statement, Kensington Palace said: “Her Majesty The Queen has granted permission for the wedding to take place at the Chapel. The Royal Family will pay for the wedding.”[“Source-forbes”]