Five ways the UK royal family impacts international trade

Fri 5 May 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Royal crown resting on British flag

Tomorrow (6 May) is the coronation, where King Charles III will formally be anointed as King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as head of the Commonwealth. Here, the IOE&IT Daily Updates suggests five ways that the royal family impacts international trade.

Brand Britain

John Balmer, a professor of corporate marketing at Brunel University, wrote that the ‘brand’ of the UK monarchy “has to some extent defined and promoted the British nation around the world.”

“Brands are important corporate (or in this case national) assets that can burnish a company’s profile and meaningfully differentiate it from other businesses.

“And while royal court officials and family members may not describe it as such, scrutinising the British monarchy through a branding lens can add meaningful perspective to why it has endured and remains meaningful and important to so many people.”

Hallmarks of royalty are used on British goods sold throughout the world: the royal insignia on Heniz Ketchup bottles being a classic example.

Research conducted by Brand Finance in 2017 supported this. British luxury goods sold in China were cited as benefitting from the royal warrants and related insignia granted to some products.

Balmer told the Economic Times that he was expecting both “change and continuity” under the new King, pointing to the likely increased focus on sustainability that Charles is likely to bring in his reign.


The King is also titular head of the Commonwealth of Nations, a political association of 56 countries, the majority of which are former UK colonies.

Last year, the IOE&IT Daily Update reported that British exports to fellow commonwealth nations hit £31.6bn, its highest level in 15 years.

Trade ministers and other senior trade officials from the commonwealth are set to meet in June 2023.

According to the Commonwealth organisation’s official website, trade ministers agreed that the focus of these meetings would be on “the role that trade can play to support an inclusive digital transition, climate action and a sustainable future”.

Commonwealth secretary-general, Patricia Scotland KC, said:

“This Senior Officials Meeting is the first step in preparing for that important meeting and delivering outcomes that will help boost trade and investment among our 56 member countries.

It is a vital opportunity for us to come together, to continue to unlock the benefits of intra-Commonwealth trade and investment, and to forge an ever-more resilient shared pathway to growth and prosperity.”


An important part of the UK’s service economy –  tourism – is often cited by royal supporters as being a major beneficiary of the royal family, with international travellers being drawn to royal locations across the UK.

Buckingham Palace reported that Windsor Castle and Frogmore House had 426,000 paying visitors between April 2021 and March 2022, according to the Independent.

Sky News’ royal correspondent Rhiannon Mills also pointed to visitors to Buckingham Palace and other historic sites as another example of the tourism boon, while noting that the exact amount brought in is up for debate.

Anti-monarchy group Republic counters these claims by pointing out that the decidedly unroyal Chester Zoo attracts more visitors than Buckingham Palace or Windsor castle, and argues that the amount of money brought in by royal events was a relatively small part of the UK’s overall tourism sector.


Buckingham Palace is predicting that tomorrow - the day of the coronation itself - will be a boon to the UK economy.

Reuters reports a palace spokesman cited studies showing that tomorrow’s ceremony was expected to bring £1bn into the UK’s coffers.

Euronews found examples of royal ‘superfans’ from France, the US and Italy visiting specifically for the coronation.

Pubs, restaurants and retailers are certainly expected to benefit.

However, CNN reports that the day could also have a negative impact on UK GDP, as millions of workers have an extra day off as part of the coronation.

A survey from trade association UKinbound, found only 16% reported an increase in bookings by foreign visitors as a result of events such as the coronation or the Eurovision Song Contest final (taking place in Liverpool on 13 May).


Members of the royal family also play a role in British diplomacy, making visits to meet world leaders that would cause political difficulties if the prime minister were to undertake the same trip

King Charles is claimed by some to have played a role in getting the Windsor Framework over the line, according to Sky News, as he met European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen as the negotiations reached a climax. There is no suggestion he took part in the talks directly.

iNews reports that Charles is helping to rebuild national relations with key allies in the run up to the coronation. Queen Elizabeth had a similar impact, but this was reduced in her later years as she struggled with international travel.

The King has also recently given a speech to the German parliament – the first for a British Monarch.

Another historical first is the attendance at the coronation of Sinn Féin, with vice president Michelle O'Neill saying she wanted to build “good relations between the people of these islands”, despite her saying she remains a dedicated republican.

Although the role of special representative for international trade and investment, first occupied by the Duke of Kent in 1976, remains vacant, it is possible that a new member of the royal family could be appointed in the future.