By Jacqueline Kubania
A Nairobi hotel is charging couples a staggering Sh1 million to watch Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle get married next weekend, not at the Windsor Castle in the United Kingdom where the wedding will take place, but on television in Nairobi.
Posters on the viewing party by Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club have been doing rounds on social media since last week, advertising an exclusive viewing of the wedding, complete with a “champagne toast and live commentary throughout the ceremony to make this day what can only be described as a True Royal Wedding experience”. The package also offers a night for two at the hotel and a helicopter ride to Mt Kenya for breakfast.
The marketers behind the event said that the steep pricing is intentional, to make the event exclusive, and that they are targeting around 20 couples. When the Nation called to enquire on Sunday, there were slots still available for the Saturday event.
The royal wedding has attracted worldwide attention since the engagement was announced last November. The story of the mixed-race American actress who fell in love with a prince has captured the world’s imagination, generating a cult-like following during the run-up to the wedding across various media platforms.
With Sh1 million, a couple could easily travel to Windsor for the wedding, where they would have ample opportunity to see the newly-weds. On their wedding day, Prince Harry and Ms Markle will make several public appearances. The royal family will allow 1,200 members of the public into the Windsor Castle grounds to share in the festivities.
Those who miss that can catch a glimpse of the newly-weds after the ceremony, when they will leave Windsor Castle in an open carriage for a two-mile procession through the main street in Windsor town, after which they will go back to the castle via the Long Walk, a three-mile, tree-lined avenue that cuts through the Windsor Great Park straight to the castle.
Return flights to London during the wedding weekend cost at most Sh100,000 for the most expensive direct flights, though one could easily hop onto connecting flights for about Sh50,000 per ticket. Accommodation at a 4-star London hotel would set one back around Sh25,000 a night, or one could decide to stay in Windsor town, smack in the middle of the action, for around Sh60,000 a night, the price no doubt driven up by the royal wedding. Windsor is only 32 kilometres away from Central London, and there are good transport links between the two.
With flights, food and accommodation taken care of, there would be around Sh500,000 left to play with. You could shop until you drop on the famous Oxford Street in London, where a variety of stores are located, high end or otherwise, depending on your budget. For sight-seeing enthusiasts, many of London’s biggest attractions are free of charge.
One could take in museums, food markets, parks, galleries and exhibitions at no extra cost. Buckingham Palace, for instance, charges nothing for the daily changing of guard ceremony, a colourful, elaborate affair complete with music and marching men in uniform where the Queen’s Guards hand over the responsibility of protecting Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace to the New Guard.
However, that is not to say that there are no Kenyans willing to attend the viewing of the wedding on television for Sh1 million since Kenya is no stranger to big spenders.
Luxury hotel Villa Rosa Kempinski earlier this year set tongues wagging when it revealed a Sh5.4 million Valentine’s Day package for a three-day stay in its presidential suite, upping its previous year’s offer of a Sh2.34 million package, confirming the country is not short of extravagant spenders.
The Africa Wealth Report published in 2017 by AfrAsia Bank showed that Kenya has 370 multi-millionaires (people with assets worth over $10 million and 9,400 high-net worth individuals (HNWIs, those worth $1 million or more). Nairobi tops the list of preferred places of residence for high.