Media frenzy of William and Kate's royal baby creates consumer interest

A royal birth has not generated so much international consumer interest in the West and elsewhere since Prince William's own birth 31 years ago.

A royal birth has not generated so great a media frenzy or so much international consumer interest in the West and elsewhere since Prince William's birth 31 years ago.

But the British monarchy and the world it inhabits have both changed radically in the past three decades.

This will be the first British royal baby born with equal rights to the throne irrespective of gender. Legislation rushed through this year, the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, ensures that - for the first time in British history.

As Prince William is second in line to succeed after his father Prince Charles, the new baby will be third in line for the throne, regardless of sex. This historical precedent helped fuel media interest around the world throughout the royal pregnancy.

The world of communications has also been transformed since Prince William's birth. The revolution in digital media that has taken place since the widespread adoption of the internet almost 20 years ago means up-to-the-minute news of the royal pregnancy has been constantly available to anyone with an internet connection and smartphone, generating an unprecedented global interest in the event.

The British royal family's happy news is boosting a worldwide business already valued at hundreds of millions of pounds.

China mugs, tea towels and other commemorative items are being produced not only in the UK but also in factories across the world.

There is, however, no accurate way of assessing the sheer volume of memorabilia now under manufacture in factories across the world or of gauging the value of the food and drink that will be consumed worldwide by followers of the British monarchy.

But there is evidence that the royal birth is already big business with the full force of its economic boost now starting to be felt first in the UK:

A total of £250 million (Dh1.36 billion) will be spent by British consumers as a result of the royal birth, the UK's Centre for Retail Research says, a fair amount of it on the 2.3 million litres of champagne monarchists will consume while toasting the new baby, a custom referred to as "wetting the baby's [in this case royal] head".

About £25m will be spent by consumers on food for small-scale celebrations such as garden barbecues this month and next month.

UK consumers are set to spend an estimated £56m on commemorative items such as china mugs, plates and tea towels, while the increased expenditure on toys will account for about £24m.

Books chronicling the royal birth are estimated to generate £40m and video online products such as DVDs and downloads will add another £36m to retailers' revenues.

Spending on prams and baby carriages is expected to leap by £33m in the year following the royal birth, according to the CRR.

However, the biggest benefit for the UK economy in the long run is likely to be a steady growth in tourism.

Despite the fact that the CRR believes the impact will be modest, representing year-on-year growth of about 4 per cent, the royal birth is likely to trigger a steady growth in the number of visitors coming to the UK over the coming years.

Unlike Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee last year marking her 60 years of rule, the royal birth is set to be an ongoing story as the third in line to the throne of England takes his or her first steps, wears his or her first school uniform and other landmarks in a young child's life become the focus of the global media.

All of which means that the royal birth is a story that will run and run and a global business that is set to grow and grow.