The most anticipated wedding of the year is a month and a half away, and protective measures are already in full swing. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding security will likely be the most elaborate and expensive of its kind, and cost taxpayers up to £30million, or approximately $42 million, according to the Daily Mail. The exact number won't be nailed down until after the May 19 ceremony, but the preparations thus far are making this event "amongst the largest in Thames Valley Police's history," according to a statement released by the force. And with the way the costs are already stacking out seven weeks in advance, the 2018 Royal Wedding seems primed to beat out the extravaganzas of 2011 and potentially 1981. Sorry, Princes William and Charles, but there's a new most secure wedding in town.
If you're reading this right now, your plan is probably to watch from your couch, and that's great. You'll be able to bring a backpack full of snacks without it being searched, avoid the full-body airport scanners that are being rented specifically for event, and most importantly, you won't cost British taxpayers any money. And you'll still have a front row seat.
But, preparations are currently underway for the estimated 100,000 people who've made a different decision than you and who will be in attendance. Some will be invited guests, and some will be members of the royal family, but many more will be traveling to Windsor, Berkshire simply for proximity to the couple on such a special occasion.
With a crowd of that size descending on one town on one day, there's a whole lot to prepare for, security-wise, and the British people are on the hook when it comes to that aspect. And that's a bummer because — *cue Stefon voice* — this wedding has everything. According to the Daily Mail, it has mounted police, it has snipers, it has license plate recognition software, it has bag searches, it has marine units, it has "hostile vehicle mitigation" barriers, it has airport-style scanners, it has search dogs, and it has so much more, including, as the police put it, "many security measures that you can’t see."
In short, this thing is no joke. The Thames Valley Police will be assembling what's being called a "ring of steel" surrounding the ceremony, with higher security clearance required to pass through each ring. According to the Daily Mail, even just to watch the royal carriage procession through the town of Windsor will require passing through a scanner. The 600 lucky few who snagged an invitation (or if yours hasn't arrived yet but you're sure it got lost in the mail), will be inside an even more fortified perimeter, this one surrounding the castle and St. George's Chapel. It's inside this boundary that the wedding itself will take place, because in case you forgot, that's why we're all here.
It's also inside the chapel that the royal family's contribution to these ceremonies become evident. While their subjects are saddled with paying for security, the Crown will, thankfully, be covering the cost of the wedding itself. That includes the service, the music, the flowers, and the reception, which don't fall into the tax payers' purview. There's no official word on how those two figures stack up next to each other, but it's certainly true that if things keep on at their same rate, Harry and Markle's wedding will have the most expensive security price tag of its kind.
The most recent event for comparison was, of course, Prince William and Kate Middleton's 2011 wedding, which cost an estimated $34 million, according to CBS News, $32 million of which went to security. Prior to that, the next most recent British royal wedding was Prince Charles' 1981 marriage to Lady Diana Spencer, which at the time was termed "The Wedding of the Century." Reports of costs for that wedding vary wildly, from Business Insider's reports, which place the cost at $110 million when adjusted for inflation, all the way down to CBS News, which puts the figure at $70 million, with just $600,000 set aside for security. (Which adjusts to roughly $1.7 million in 2018 dollars.) Somewhat in the middle is Money Watch, which estimates the cost of security at Charles and Diana's 1981 ceremony at $20 million, once adjusted for inflation.
The accurate total is likely somewhere in the middle, but in any case, it will be difficult to beat the 2018 sums. Especially when considering inflation and the incredible innovations in security technology in the nearly four decades between 1981 and now, Markle and Prince Harry's wedding is likely to go down in history as the most expensive security at an event of its kind. Until the next royal wedding, at least.