Royal Weddings and the S&P: Not a Great Love Affair

Just a few hours after Prince William married Kate Middleton, the S&P 500 is trading down slightly

The marriage of royal couples in the United Kingdom and the U.S. stock market have a sketchy relationship at best. On Friday, hours after Prince William married Kate Middleton, the S&P 500 was trading down slightly below 1,360, while the Dow Jones was up a tad to 12,786. A review of how the markets did around the time of these nuptials illustrates the mixed picture.

The Queen married Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey on Nov. 20, 1947. They are set to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary next year.

The S&P statistical securities price index, used by economist Robert Schiller in his research, was falling at the time of this historic wedding. The index was at 15.21 in January 1947 and by January 1948, it had declined to 14.83. Overall, this index moved from high of 19.25 in late May of 1946 to a low of 13.55 in mid-June of 1949.

Princess Margaret, the younger sister of Elizabeth II, wed Antony Armstrong-Jones at Westminster Abbey May 6, 1960. They later divorced, but their wedding seems to have one of the few positive market performances associated with these royal events. In early 1960, the S&P price index was just over 58. A year later, it was close to 60. And by mid-December of 1961, the S&P was at 72.64.

Princess Anne, the Queen's only daughter, said 'I do' to Mark Phillips, a lieutenant in the British Army, at Westminster Abbey on Nov. 14, 1973. The pair later divorced. The S&P began 1973 at about 119, but a year later was trading around 95. It hit a low of 62 in October 1974.

More than 600,000 people filled the streets of London (and over 750 million tuned in via TV) to watch Lady Diana Spencer wed Prince Charles at St. Paul's Cathedral on July 29, 1981.

Diana wore an ivory taffeta and antique lace gown with a 25-foot train. The markets were falling behind in mid-’81, though. The bull market that peaked in late November of 1980, with the S&P around 140, was near 100 by mid-’82.

Andrew, the Duke of York, married Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey on July 23, 1986. The S&P, after hitting a low of around 101 in 1982, kept rallying up to above 330 in mid-’87. This couple – along with Charles and Diane – divorced in 1996.

Prince Edward, now Earl of Wessex,  married publicist Sophie Rhys-Jones on June 19, 1999. This was during the high-tech bubble. After a market low of about 957 in October 1998, the S&P went on a tear and hit 1527 on March 24, 2000.

And finally, the Prince of Wales married fellow divorcee Camilla Parker Bowels in a private civil ceremony at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle on April 10, 2005. In April of that year, the market weakened by about 10 points to 1,162. For the year, however, it moved up from roughly 1,190 to 1,256.50.

The S&P today is now at the highest levels it’s seen since 2008 – and high expectations confront both it and today’s royal couple. And at least one market watcher – Sam Stovall of S&P – is convinced the index could get to 1,400 this year. Maybe love, this time, will conquer the market.

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