May 29th, 2012
12:19 PM GMT
London (CNN) – In just a few days more than 60 million subjects across the United Kingdom will prepare to mark their monarch’s 60th year on the throne.
The occasion will come as a welcome anaesthetic to dull the pain of unwavering austerity and an economy mired in its first double dip since Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee in the 1970s.
So, during times of austerity and hardship is Britain’s monarchy a help or a hindrance to the nation’s finances?
Branding expert David Haigh has tried to put a figure on the value of Britain’s Royal Family as a brand.
The sum he came up with: A whopping £44 billion - or $70 billion.
Royalists might say the country’s monarchy is priceless; Republicans on the other hand will probably tell you the money could be better spent.
But whatever your constitutional slant most number crunchers will say "Brand Britain" gets more bang for its buck with a monarchy than minus one.
"There’s little doubt that, as an institution, the monarchy adds significant annual earnings and long term economic value to the UK," says Haigh, chief executive and founder of Brand Finance Plc.
"Just the media coverage they generate internationally is worth hundreds of millions in free publicity for the country. For companies with a Royal Warrant or Coat of Arms these are powerful tools for changing people’s perceptions," he says.
"If a product has the royal seal of approval people will automatically think it is a luxury good."
Haigh reckons such schemes are worth £4.4 billion to British brands alone. An extra help for the myriad of businesses, small and large, which enjoy royal patronage and endorsement.
Brand Finance places the monarchy’s intangible value at £26 billion, and the tangible benefit attributed to the Queen and her royal retinue at £18 billion.
This year’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, combined with a royal wedding which was watched the world over last year, have cemented the family’s role as revenue generators like never before.
Take the official four-day jubilee celebrations set to kick off this weekend: Haigh reckons the festivities alone with likely generate an extra £2.4 billion in revenues, including a £924 million boost for the UK’s leisure and tourism industry.
Mind you, partying hard costs money: Lost earnings due to a public holiday to mark the event work out at a hefty £1.2 billion.
So that’s how much the monarchy could be worth - but how much does it cost?
There's the £461 million Civil List, funds allocated to royals to perform their duties, a £387 million bill for building maintenance and £3.2 billion in security expenses. The monarchy doesn’t come cheap.
Haigh and his colleagues value the total long-term outflows associated with having a royal family at £7.6 billion.
"But how much would a presidency cost instead? Perhaps more," he cautions.
"Actually I don’t think the royal family presents itself particularly well economically," says Haigh. "If you used the same multiples used to value Facebook and applied them to Britain’s Monarchy their worth would be more like £100 billion too. And who’s worth more? Mark Zuckerberg or Queen Elizabeth?"
The difference is we all have a stake already.
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