Royal Weddings: Here's Who Really Pays For Them

Many people dream of feeling like royalty on their wedding day, and to bring this idea to life, couples are often willing to spend big on their nuptials. In fact, the average wedding in the U.S. costs an eye-watering $28,000, according to 2021 data collected by The Knot. However, actual royals spend considerably more on their weddings than we commoners. 

Check out virtually every wedding in the British royal family over the last few decades and you'll see all the bells and whistles from designer dresses to horse-drawn carriages, castles as venues, and top-notch catering. There's also usually an impressive guest list of queens, kings, and famous friends to impress. Unsurprisingly, then, royals typically rack up hefty price tags when organizing their big days. 

When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle married in 2018, for instance, their ceremony reportedly cost $45.8 million, while Prince William and Kate Middleton spent a little less at around $34 million. The "wedding of the century" between Prince Charles and Princess Diana far exceeded both, costing $110 million (adjusted for inflation), per Insider. But who foots the bill for these fancy events? The answer is a little complicated.

The royal family usually covers ceremony costs

Many of the items you'd expect to see as part of a standard wedding budget — a cake, formal wear, decorations, a venue, and music — are all paid for by the royals themselves. Kensington Palace confirmed this when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their wedding, noting simply in an official statement: "The Royal Family will pay for the wedding" (via Twitter). 

Similarly, a Clarence House official shared with The Globe and Mail that The Firm would be footing the bill for any of the costs "you'd normally associate with a wedding ... such as flowers, reception, transport" when Prince William and Kate Middleton tied the knot. The official elaborated, "It's being paid for by the Royal Family with a contribution from the Middletons."

Kate Middleton's family, who are the owners of a successful party supplies business, were able to comfortably contribute financially to the royal wedding, while Meghan Markle's weren't expected to do the same because they're markedly less well off (per However, Markle was likely responsible for buying her own dress, as Express reported at the time. 

With millions spent on each wedding, one might wonder how exactly royals can afford the high costs. Certain high-ranking members of the family receive money via the Sovereign Grant (which is funded by the British government and taxpayers), alongside various other private streams of income, which naturally assist in covering the spiraling bills. 

Taxpayers have to chip in for royal wedding security

According to CNN Money, one of the costliest expenses associated with royal weddings is security. Prince William and Kate Middleton's nuptials, for instance, tallied up $8.7 million for security and policing alone. Further, the majority of these costs are funded with taxpayers' money. Many Britons understandably aren't happy about footing the bill for such lavish events as a result. 

In fact, Republic, an anti-monarchy organization, launched a petition ahead of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's wedding, demanding that the royal family cover all costs, including security. "Local services and police are under serious financial strain — the idea that the taxpayer will be expected to pay for a multimillionaire's wedding is appalling. The priority must be on local services and helping those in need," argued CEO Graham Smith. 

A 2018 YouGov survey also revealed that 57% of British adults felt The Firm should pay for all wedding expenses, while 36% believed the government should pay for the security required for such events. Exorbitant police protection costs are an issue even at relatively smaller affairs, like Princess Eugenie's 2018 nuptials. One estimate suggested that taxpayers shelled out around £2 million for the minor royal's security fees (via The Mirror).