So why don't we get a public holiday for the royal wedding?

Geir Darge · 11 May

Spring has arrived! Fashionably late but what an entrance. And for many among us this can only mean one thing: wedding season.


For the next three months, church bells will be the soundtrack of our weekends and this year we kick off with a biggie…

Prince Harry and "Suits" actress Meghan Markle will tie the knot on Saturday 19 May at Windsor Castle. The event promises quiet splendour, with 1000 members of the public having been invited to watch from the castle grounds.

However the question on everyone’s lips is:

“Will we get a public holiday?”

While it’s been a recurrent gesture for the head of state to issue a public holiday for a Royal Wedding, this year it was close but no cigar. Theresa May, in a statement to Sky News, confirmed that there would be no national day of celebration for the royal couple.

As the wedding falls on a weekend (Saturday 19 May) it’s sadly business as usual. Although there are a few perks thrown in for good will; pubs will have a late licence that Friday and there will be no fines for street parties on the Saturday.

Royal misconceptions

Public holidays for royal weddings are actually a fairly recent tradition, dating from the wedding of Princess Anne to Captain Mark in 1973, and have only applied to the following two royal weddings: that of Lady Diana to Prince Charles, and Kate Middleton to Prince William.

However, this is not the only recent tradition when it comes to royal weddings.

Even the celebration itself is a fairly recent phenomena. Despite seeming like a hallowed tradition dating back the ages, this national fascination properly began with the marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, in 1840.

It might have seemed unconventional for Harry and Meghan to choose Windsor Castle as a venue, however Westminster Abbey hasn’t always been preferred for the ceremony. While it saw its first royal wedding in 1382, Westminster would undergo a 500 year hiatus, broken only after the marriage King George VI to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923.

Pomp and ceremony may also seem to accompany the royals no matter what the occasion, however belts were tightened for our current Monarch. Due to the hardships of WWII, Queen Elizabeth bought her dress with 200 ration coupons and did her own makeup on the day.

Bank Holiday fatigue

When David Cameron called for a national holiday to celebrate Kate and Will's, there was a serious backlash from the business world. The decision is alleged to have cost the UK economy £6bn.

A recent YouGov poll found only 38% supported an extra May bank holiday for the wedding, with 48% going the other way.

So what do people want?

From a personnel point of view, there’s a greater demand for employers to offer flexible working, over mandatory time off.

Giving employees flexi-time and work-from-home days improves their work-life balance – particularly when dealing with parents and carers.

More than just an issue concerning employee well-being, it also has economic benefits. According to HR professor Natalie Pancheri of the LSE: “Research from the CIPD has shown that implementing flexible working practices can improve staff engagement and motivation.”

This doesn’t mean people don’t enjoy a national celebration, so although there’s no official holiday, it’s worth making a big deal out of in the workplace.

So why not give staff the option to take the Friday afternoon off, or get some booze in to toast the happy couple.


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