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Forget the GDP hit and enjoy the Coronation fun

They might look the same to economists, but a Coronation is a lot more fun than a train strike  (AFP via Getty Images)
They might look the same to economists, but a Coronation is a lot more fun than a train strike (AFP via Getty Images)

Landmark royal events like tomorrow’s Coronation are, economically speaking, a cross between an England World Cup final and a train strike.

While they certainly set off a sugar rush of spending on bunting, buns and beer, they are also massively disruptive to output, just like a total shutdown of the rail system. In fact a lot worse, as the impact of a walkout on the trains or Tubes is considerably softened these days by the working-from-home revolution.

Most economists agree that the loss of output from an extra day’s national holiday will heavily outweigh the consumer stampede for Charles and Camilla mugs and the rest of the celebratory splurge.

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They seem to be more frequent too: this is the third in less than a year following the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, her funeral in September and now her son’s Coronation.

The trusty back-of-an-envelope ready reckoner suggests that three days lost output in a year could amount to 1% of GDP, or around £20 billion.

A monarchosceptic might argue that is production that the country cannot afford to lose after the trials of recent years. But, as the Romans recognised, the circuses have as key a role to play as the bread when it comes to national wellbeing.

So enjoy the weekend, it seems unlikely there will be another royal bank holiday for a few years after the recent flurry. Even if it does shave a few fractions of a point off GDP, a Coronation is a lot more fun than a rail strike… and less stressful than an England penalty shoot-out