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Royal wedding: Prince William and Kate Middleton name the big day

By Martin Hickman

The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton will take place at Westminster Abbey on 29 April, 2011, St James's Palace announced yesterday.

Two thousand guests are expected to crowd into the 13th Century church to witness the couple exchanging vows, while tens of millions catch the event on television at home. Globally, the ceremony is tipped to attract more than the billion people who saw Prince Charles marry Lady Diana in 1981 .

People will get a day off. Within minutes of the date being announced, the Cabinet made the Friday a bank holiday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, giving a reason to be thankful to those uninterested in the event — and some firms a headache, according to a business group.

The Royal family — as well as the Middletons — will pay for the wedding, reception and honeymoon. The public will pay for policing and security, which could reach £5m.

Prince William's private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, said the couple were “getting stuck into organising their wedding” .

In a nod towards the global economic turmoil, he added: “All parties involved in the wedding, not least Prince William and Miss Middleton, want to ensure that a balance is struck between an enjoyable day and the current economic situation.”

Tourists are expected to flood into London in April, providing extra business for airlines, taxis and hotels. Verdict Research predicts the total generated could be £620m, with merchandise sales of £26m and £360m for grocery retailers as shoppers load up on champagne, wine and food.

Nonetheless, the wedding could result in a net loss to UK plc, experts calculated, given the CBI has previously calculated each bank holiday costs £6bn. The employer's organisation put aside their concerns, saying: “The Royal Wedding is a day for national celebration, and a one-off additional bank holiday is appropriate.”

The Federation of Small Business complained the event would be awkward for small firms, particularly when workers asked for the whole week off. Many are likely to do so, given that the wedding falls between the Easter Friday and Easter Monday holidays and the May bank holiday Monday.

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