The baby princess, named Charlotte Elizabeth Diana last night (Australian time), was born at the weekend. Fourth in line to the throne, Princess Charlotte is the fifth great-grandchild of Queen Elizabeth. Bookies were tipping Charlotte, Alice, Elizabeth and Victoria, in that order, as possible names – with Diana an outside choice – so they got it pretty right, apart from the choice of Alice.
VisitBritain and London tourism authorities are already working to capitalise on the immense interest a royal birth generates around the world. VisitBritain used the birth of Prince George in 2013 to promote Britain as a family-friendly destination.
A poster showing William and Kate (or, more officially, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) beaming while holding Prince George was used in 2013 to target would-be tourists in 21 countries including Australia, parts of Europe, the US, Canada, Brazil, China, Japan and Russia. The poster bore the slogan: “Welcome to Great Britain!”
International interest in the British royal family remains strong, with much of the GBP 4.7 billion (AUD 9 billion) or so earned annually in tourist revenue from cultural and heritage sites attributed to royal attractions.
Royal watchers can head over to London to welcome Princess Charlotte for a modest outlay. Online flight comparison service Cheapflights.com.au says it has sourced return airfares for less than AUD 1500 (including all fees and taxes) for an immediate departure this week. The cheapest flights currently are on Malaysia Airlines.
Gordon Innes, chief executive of London & Partners, the official promotional agency for Britain’s capital, points out that the year of Prince George’s birth was a record-breaking year for tourism, with London welcoming almost 17 million international visits in 2013.
“The full year visitor figures for 2014 are due next month and forecasts suggest that we are on course to top this figure,” he said.
“Royal occasions such as this, combined with a continually spectacular and diverse tourism offering in London, help boost visitor numbers to the city and maintain London’s position on the world stage – and we are anticipating that the capital will welcome 2.7 million more international and domestic visits in 2015 compared to 2013.”
Last week, the Business Improvement District for the area around St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, where the little princess was born, was busy preparing the way to celebrate the Royal birth.
London’s elite Park Lane Hotel is hosting a special Royal Baby Shower Afternoon Tea. Available until the end of May in the hotel’s art deco lounge, The Palm Court, the event lets visitors indulge in tasty treats such as a hazelnut and polenta pram cake, a milk bottle panna cotta or a sticky apricot cake ABC learning block.
Just down the road, London Hilton on Park Lane is celebrating the birth of the Queen’s first great-granddaughter at its exclusive CC Bar, which is available for private hire Baby Showers. A Champagne Afternoon Tea will be served to all members of the party including a selection of freshly made “sandwiches, pastries and miniature fancies” alongside a selection of teas from Harney & Sons and Pommery Champagne.
Further south on the River Thames, history fans can enjoy a Royally Rich Afternoon Tea with City Cruises. This special cruise will take passengers through 150 years of royal children, with a photographic exhibition and lectures by world renowned royal experts Ian Pelham Turner and Helena Chard.
For those craving more than just afternoon tea, the Royal Garden Hotel is running a competition for a chance to live like a royal. Winners receive a two-night stay in a Garden Room overlooking Kensington Palace, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s residence, an afternoon tea and two tickets to tour Kensington Palace.
For those desperate for more royal-related activities, London & Partners suggests the following websites:
Royal London: www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/sightseeing/royal-London
Royal Attractions itinerary: www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/sightseeing/one-day-itineraries/london-day-out-royal-attractions
Kate Middleton’s London: www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/sightseeing/tourist-attraction/kate-middletons-London
Written by Peter Needham