THE police budget is to bear the brunt of the expected £500,000 security costs of Scotland's royal wedding weekend at the end of the month.
The marriage of Zara Phillips, the Queen’s granddaughter, and England rugby captain Mike Tindall at the Canongate Kirk will draw the royal, the rich and famous on July 30.
The celebrations are already an international event, with top-level sports people including Mr Tindall’s fellow English rugby players expected to join celebrities in Edinburgh to see the couple take their vows.
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The city is buzzing with the expected appearance of the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, inevitably adding yet more refined glamour to glittering day.
William and Kate will be joined by other key royals.
The security operation is expected to be on a similar scale to Pope Benedict XVI’s visit last year, when Operation Zinnia involved 900 officers and cost police £543,000.
As that was a state occasion, Lothian and Borders Police Assistant Chief Constable Iain Livingstone was able to apply to the Scottish Government to recoup the cash.
The force would not disclose yesterday how much it recouped from Holyrood for the Papal visit.
However, because the wedding is a private event, senior officers cannot use the mechanism to claw back money for their already pressed budget.
Although the event could generate millions for the city, there will be no immediate direct benefit to the policing purse.
A security source connected to the event told The Herald the cost of the entire police operation is projected to be “very close” to that of the Papal visit.
He said the Metropolitan Police will provide input “but that will probably relate only to the specific Royal activity”.
Thousands of wellwishers are expected to take to the streets of Edinburgh for Scotland’s celebrity wedding of the year with the party going on late into the night and following day.
The potential costs have prompted concern on the Lothian and Borders Police Board who are seeking talks with Holyrood on receiving specific grant aid for policing major events in the capital, which holds such events more frequently.
Iain Whyte, board chairman, said: “It does put additional pressure on the force when there are increasing numbers of VIP visitors to Edinburgh.
“The key thing for me is that this event is managed carefully so that the financial and policing impact will be minimal.”
The board has set police the task of laying out the rising annual costs of specific major public events over a number of years in the capital and this will be presented to the Scottish Government as part of the bid for help with the wedding bill.Although already receiving an annual capital “weighting” grant, Mr Whyte said this does not cover the rising costs of major events.
He said: “We have asked to see the increase over the years so that we can look at that (recouping costs) realistically and possibly make a bid for the costs from the Scottish Government.”
Lothian and Borders Police had to meet the bulk of a £1.2 mil- lion policing bill for just two events last year, the climate camp protests and the Pope’s visit.
The citywide protests centered on the Royal Bank of Scotland cost around £650,000.
Mr Whyte, also finance spokesman on the Tory group at Edinburgh City Council, has pushed to have those found guilty of criminal damage during such protests to pay towards the costs of policing the event.
Police would not reveal projected costs or numbers of officers to be deployed.
But Assistant Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said yester- day: “The wedding of Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall in Edinburgh on July 30 is a private event and Lothian and Borders Police will provide a presence to maintain public safety and security due to the status of members of the wedding party.
“Public safety and protection fall within our normal policing duties and as such we will not be looking to recoup any costs associated with policing the wedding.”
Miss Phillips, 30, has a strong connection with Scotland.
Her mother, Princess Anne, married her second husband Commander Timothy Laurence at Crathie Kirk, near Balmoral, in 1992.
Miss Phillips, a horse trials and events champion, and her brother Peter attended Gordonstoun School in Moray, as did her uncle, Prince Charles.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This Government has provided record levels of police funding this financial year, £1.4 billion – a 20% rise since 2006-07.
“Lothian and Borders Police receive additional funding by way of grant to recognise Edinburgh’s unique role as Scotland’s capital.”
A spokesman for Buckingham Palace declined to comment.