Maria Puente, USA TODAY
It looks like Kate Middleton's royal wedding dress is doing wonders for the royal coffers: Visitors to the annual summer opening of Buckingham Palace are up 19% compared with the same period last year.
It's probably safe to assume it's due to the exhibit of Middleton's wedding dress and accessories, not the other exhibit on royal Faberge gewgaws.
According to Rachel Woollen, press spokesman for the Royal Collection, which organizes the marketing of royal palace tours and souvenirs, more than 148,000 people since July 23 have filed through the palace State Rooms and past the display of the Alexander McQueen/Sarah Burton confection Middleton wore to marry Prince William on April 29.
It's a big jump in visitors even over last year, the second-highest on record with a total of 413,000 visitors over eight weeks.
The annual opening of the queen's official residence in London (this year, it will remain open until Oct. 3) has been hugely popular with both Brits and tourists since it began in 1993 as a way to help raise funds to repair Windsor Castle after a damaging fire; so far, millions of pounds have been raised. The queen and most of the royal family typically spend these summer months at her Balmoral estate in Scotland. Before leaving for vacation, the queen and Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, officially opened the exhibit in a blaze of publicity and camera flashes. But Woollen says tickets are still available