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How Our Drinking Habits Have Changed Over Four Decades Of Royal Weddings

In the lead up to Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding Portman Group conducted an analysis of UK alcohol trends show how the nation’s relationship with alcohol has changed since the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer in 1981.

In 1981, yearly alcohol consumption per head stood at just over seven litres. It was a different picture when Prince Charles embarked on his second marriage. In 2005, consumption per head reached a peak of around nine and a half litres.

Since then, alcohol consumption has fallen steadily. When Prince William married Catherine Middleton in 2011, the figure had returned to 8.2 litres, not far off the figure when Prince Edward wed Sophie Rhys-Jones twelve years earlier. By 2016, alcohol consumption was back below eight litres per person.

There has also been a shift in what we drink. Back in 1981, most alcohol in the UK was consumed as beer (59%). By 2011, the UK was toasting Prince William and Catherine with a broader range of drinks including wine (32%), spirits/Ready-to-Drinks (22%), and cider (9%).

When the nation toasts Prince Harry and Meghan tomorrow, it might look quite different to previous royal weddings. In the time between Prince Charles’ second marriage in 2005 and Prince Harry’s imminent nuptials, the proportion of people in Great Britain drinking five days a week has fallen. In 2017, more than 9 in 10 reported having three or more alcohol free days in the last week (ONS lifestyle survey). Since 2008, adults in Great Britain have become more likely to report being teetotal than to have indulged in binge drinking.

John Timothy, Portman Group CEO commented “While wedding styles may have changed since the eighties, it seems that as a nation our alcohol consumption has nearly fallen back down to the same levels as at the end of that decade.

“With many of us looking forward to raising a toast to Prince Harry and Meghan tomorrow, the good news is that we are much more likely to be drinking sensibly than when Harry’s father Prince Charles married Camilla in 2005.”

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