Royal Wedding: London Police Struggle to Pay Mounting Security Costs

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Kate Middleton’s marriage to Prince William may be the most expensive security event ever staged in Britain. Now security forces worry they don’t have enough cash to keep the newlyweds—and their esteemed guests—safe.

Experts estimate that the security price tag associated with the royal wedding could climb as high as £20 million (around $33 million). Policing Princess Diana’s 1981 nuptial with Prince Charles cost £12 million ($19.6 million) in today’s terms. Thousands of policemen will line the royal procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey, and thousands more will observe festivities from rooftops while others work on counter terrorism measures behind-the-scenes. And because David Cameron has made April 29 a public holiday, all those officers are entitled to overtime—what Brits call the “double bubble.”

(More on TIME.com: See how Kate is transitioning from working girl to royal housewife)

Compounding matters, the wedding comes at a time the Prime Minister is already enacting cuts that will reduce the police budget. “David Cameron made it a bank holiday. The money that it costs for that day will come out of the Met police budget, which he’s already set about cutting,” Peter Smyth, Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, told the Times (of London). “Cameron made the decision. He should pay for it.” The Daily Mail reports that the police are so hard up they sent a “betting letter” to the Home Office (the equivalent of the U.S. State Department) asking for cash.

Assuming that the father of the bride can’t make up for the shortfall and that recession-hit Prince Charles has maxed out his MasterCard, perhaps a collection plate is in order? Surely Kate and Wills guests—including around 50 foreign heads of state, and un-official royalty like Victoria and David Beckham, and Elton John—have a little cash to burn. (via Daily Mail)

(More on TIME.com: See photos of Kate Middleton)

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