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Drinking hours have previously been extended for Prince William’s wedding, the Queen’s 90th birthday, and the World Cup

Mike Pomranz
January 08, 2018

Most Brits don’t need any additional coaxing to get excited about a royal wedding–even if it is the wedding of a second string heir who keeps seeing his name slide down the line of succession. (For those not up on their British royal rules, the oldest child is first in line, and then that oldest child’s progeny are ahead of the second oldest child. So every time Prince William has another kid, his brother, Prince Henry, slips one more spot down the list.) But for anyone in the United Kingdom not quite feeling Prince Henry’s choice of American actress Meghan Markle, here’s some news that might raise their spirits: As has become tradition, the British government is planning to extend pub opening hours for this Royal Wedding.

Despite Brits love of a pint, those who’ve never visited the U.K. might be surprised to know that pub hours in the country can be surprisingly tame by many U.S. standards. Plenty of pubs close at 11 p.m. or midnight, and no pub licenses allow these watering holes to be open past 1am even on weekends. (Importantly, other types of licenses do exist where people can drink later, but these late-night party spots are not traditional “pubs.”) However, a section of the Licensing Act does allow for longer pub hours on occasions of national significance – a provision that is rarely used, but does have precedence in this situation.

“Since the Act was introduced in 2005, we have had extended hours for the last Royal Wedding [in 2011], for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee [in 2016] and the World Cup [in 2014],” Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said according to The Drinks Business. “For the first two, extended hours were granted on the relevant Friday and Saturday until 1 a.m. and we believe that it would be appropriate for pubs to be allowed extended hours on Friday, 18th May and Saturday, 19th May. Both extensions would be until 1 a.m. the following morning.”

Though the change to pub hours is not official yet – the UK government has simply opened up a public consultation on the idea – the change would appear likely. “The Royal Wedding will be a time of national celebration, and we want everyone to be able to make the most of such an historic occasion,” British Home Secretary Amber Rudd was quoted as saying. “I hope that this relaxation of the licensing hours will allow people to extend their festivities and come together to mark what will be a very special moment for the country.” Longer hours could also be a special moment for pubs:  The British Beer & Pub Association estimates the extended hours could lead to a $13.5 million boost in sales on food and drink over the two day period.

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