By Max Clarke

As the nation awaits the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the government’s Office for National Statistics has made a comparison between today’s economy and the economic situation of the country during the last great wedding; that of Prince Charles and Diana, some 30 years ago.

While economists are nervous about today’s retail price index of inflation, currently at 5.5%, 30 years ago the Winter of Discontent saw RPI inflation climb to a staggering 11.9%- equal to Sierra Leone or the West Bank.

The country’s sluggist economic growth of 1.3% is also alarming to business and government, though 30 years ago the GDP actually saw a contraction of 1.3%.

Adding to the bleak economic situation in the early 1980s was unemployment: then at 2.64 million, the figure was higher than today’s 2.53 million; though the larger population of today’s Britain makes the percentages 10.0% compared to 8.2% respectively.

Clearly, the ONS report goes on to say, with the extended bank holiday weekend, and the huge international interest in the Royal Wedding, it is likely that the event will have a significant impact on the UK tourist industry. In July 1981 there were 1,430,000 visits to the UK by foreign residents, bringing in around £375 million.

They weren’t all here for the wedding, but this compares with totals in April 2010 of 2,290,000 visits and £1.2 billion. ONS will publish UK tourism estimates for April 2011 on June 9.