LONDON (AFP) - An extravaganza of royal glamour should lift the austerity gloom in Britain this year with the wedding of Prince William while Prince Albert II of Monaco will tie the knot in the summer.
The second-in-line to the throne will marry his university sweetheart Kate Middleton on April 29 in what is likely to be the biggest British royal wedding since his late mother Diana married Prince Charles in 1981.
Prince Albert and his South African fiancee Charlene Wittstock, an Olympic swimming star, will celebrate their wedding over two days on July 2 and 3.
"There's a public infatuation (with royal weddings) that you wouldn't believe," French commentator Stephane Bern, who has covered dozens of royal nuptials, told AFP. "There is a real public desire for these sorts of events, a willingness to beat the gloomy times." That chimes true in Britain, where Prime Minister David Cameron's coalition government has unveiled deep cuts designed to rein in the kingdom's record high deficit.
Cameron appears to have spotted a chance to make the wedding day -- a Friday -- a release from the gloom, by declaring it a public holiday.
That brought some cheer to Britons, who were pleased at the announcement but not wildly enthusiastic about the ceremony itself, which will take place in London's Westminster Abbey.
In November, pollsters ComRes found that two thirds of Britons were "indifferent" to the big day, despite their general attachment to the monarchy. "As we go towards it, people will get more interested," predicted historian Jean Seaton.
However, the marriage of William and his fiancee is likely to lack the fairytale glamour of the 1981 marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, William's parents.