The government has been urged not to spend taxpayers' money on a royal wedding at a time of economic problems and severe cuts. The comments follow the news today (16 November) that William Windsor, the second in line to the British throne, is to marry his girlfriend Kate Middleton next year.
Critics of the monarchy have wished the couple happiness in marriage, but insisted that the wedding is essentially a private event which should be paid for by the couple or families concerned.
"I'm sure this is very happy news for those who know the couple,” said Graham Smith of Republic, a group campaigning for an elected head of state, “But it is a private matter and we mustn't see the government wasting limited resources paying for a major set-piece event”.
He insisted that, “It is not for the taxpayer to pay for any part of this event. The Windsors must cough up”.
Smith contrasted the situation of the couple with those of many people in the UK, saying, "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”.
And he insisted that, “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."
Republic has also complained to the BBC for devoting extensive coverage to the engagement announcement and giving little space to controversial questions such as funding.
Smith said he also fears that the event will be used as an attempt to revive flagging support for the monarchy.
"We are certain the palace spin doctors will be working overtime to use this opportunity to their advantage,” he said, “Republic today makes this pledge to do all it can to counter that PR campaign and continue to push the case for a modern and democratic institution in place of the monarchy”.