British Business Bank On Royal Wedding
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
These are tough economic times in Britain and retailers have questions of their own, such as how much the wedding will be worth to them. They're hoping it will boost everything from tourism to the sale of souvenir mugs. Vicki Barker reports from London.
VICKI BARKER: Sandie Dawes can put a price on Prince William and Kate Middleton's happiness - about $900 million. That's how much the royal nuptials are expected to generate for British retailers, British hotels and restaurants, and the British travel industry.
SANDIE DAWES: In a hugely competitive market out there for us to get this publicity boost for free, essentially - it's wonderful news.
BARKER: Dawes runs VisitBritain, the nation's tourism agency. Every place associated with the happy couple, it appears, now glitters with gold.
DAWES: It gives us the opportunity to talk about Scotland because they studied at St. Andrews. They're going to live in North Wales, and of course London and the pageantry that might surround the royal wedding if it takes place here.
BARKER: For older consumers with deeper pockets, Royal Crown Derby has been producing porcelain for British royalty since 1770, and it's happy to sell some to you too. Marketing director Simon Willis says the firm already has prototypes for a William and Kate wedding range.
SIMON WILLIS: We're waiting for the wedding dates to now come along and we can insert those into the pieces that need them and away we'll go.
BARKER: Willis says the keen-eyed will notice that the conjugal monogram incorporates an intertwined W and a C, not the letter K.
WILLIS: When we started on this, about two years ago, we were obviously working on Kate. But then she let it be known that she was Catherine, I presume hoping that this day would come.
BARKER: Royal Crown Derby wedding memorabilia will cost you between $75 and $5,000 apiece.
ALAN JOHNSON: Mugs, pens.
BARKER: Or you can soon pick up a cheap and cheerful William and Kate wedding mug from Alan Johnson, selling stacks of British memorabilia near Piccadilly Circus.
JOHNSON: The pen has got William and Harry on it. Not a great seller. It's only young girls who are interested, because they're the most eligible bachelors, supposedly, in the world. They sell less than Diana does, even today.
BARKER: He predicts his business will only pick up about 10 percent around the royal wedding, because people who buy souvenirs were always going to buy souvenirs: if they buy a William and Kate mug, then they just won't buy a London double-decker bus mug, he says. Johnson was with the crowds outside St. Paul's cathedral 29 years ago when Prince William's parents married. He says things are different now.
JOHNSON: When Charles and Diana got married, everyone was still in the old mindset of going to see a wedding and it was a great thing. Now media covers everything. People don't bother so much.
BARKER: For NPR News, I'm Vicki Barker in London.
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