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As royal wedding nears, brands benefit from ‘Meghan effect’ 

London, April 12

Canadian fashion designer Bojana Sentaler stared at her television on Christmas Day to see if Meghan Markle had a gift for her.She did. As Prince Harry’s future bride left a church service on the grounds of Queen Elizabeth II’s private country estate, Sentaler spotted a cuff detail on Markle’s camel alpaca coat that told her customers would be flocking to her website.”I was looking for the ribbed sleeves, hoping it was a Sentaler coat,” said the designer, who met Markle when she was a mere TV star. “And as soon as I saw that, I was so happy and so excited and it was the best Christmas present I could ever wish for.”           The Meghan magic was almost instantaneous; Markle’s coat sold out, as Sentaler expected, and the publicity fueled sales of other designs. Now part of an elite circle of entrepreneurs tapped with the monarchy’s golden touch, the designer plans a boutique in London, though no firm dates are set.Markle’s marriage to Harry isn’t just a trans-Atlantic love story linking the House of Windsor to Hollywood. The couple’s May 19 wedding is likely to have dividends for the designers, florists, bakers and tiara makers who are directly part of it, as well as for businesses much farther down the line of affection.The glamorous bride-to-be alone is forecast to pump 150 million pounds ($210 million) into the British economy as consumers try to mimic her style, according to economists at Brand Finance, which produces an annual report on the monarchy’s economic contributions.In all, the wedding is expected to generate more than 1 billion pounds of economic activity, including 300 million pounds in tourism, particularly from Americans eager to be part of the occasion.Marketers see Markle as a bonus from the royal family, since her engagement to Harry followed so closely on the sensible but very stylish heel of the former Kate Middleton, who married Prince William seven years ago.But Markle, whose pencil skirts and stiletto heels graced the hit US television show “Suits” for seven years, brings fresh sparkle to the picture. Having her showcase a coat, handbag or service is like being associated with a fairy tale, just like when Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956.Perhaps more importantly, she’s a biracial American who links the royal family to new countries and new cultures.

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