Header Ads

The sky-high cost of tour that tore Royal Family apart: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's African trip cost £245,000 making it the most expensive jaunt by The Firm last year, as total travel bill hits £5.3m

 Harry and Meghan's last official tour as members of the Royal Family cost British taxpayers almost a quarter of a million pounds, official accounts reveal today.

The high-profile trip to South Africa, Botswana, Angola and Malawi last autumn had been billed as one of the showpiece events of the royal year.

But the couple left months of work by staff and diplomats in tatters after they launched a stinging rebuke against the media during the publicly funded trip, as well as secretly recording an explosive TV documentary in which Meghan painted Harry's family as uncaring by accusing them of failing to ever ask if she 'was OK'.

The Sussexes, who also took baby son Archie on the trip, stepped down as senior working royals months later, and now live in the US, where they are financially independent having signed a multi-million-pound deal with Netflix.

Royal accounts published today show £245,643 was spent on scheduled flights and a private jet for the couple and their entourage, making it the most expensive royal trip of the year.

Royal accounts published today show £245,643 was spent on scheduled flights and a private jet for the couple (pictured at a mosque in Cape Town) and their entourage, making it the most expensive royal trip of the year

Pictured: baby Archie being kissed on the forehead by Archbishop Desmond Tutu while in the hands of his mother the Duchess of Sussex in Cape Town, on day three of their tour of Africa

Pictured: baby Archie being kissed on the forehead by Archbishop Desmond Tutu while in the hands of his mother the Duchess of Sussex in Cape Town, on day three of their tour of Africa

The Duke of Sussex walked through a minefield in Dirico, Angola on September 27. He visited to see the work of landmine clearance charity the Halo Trust
Prince Harry hugged Tlotlo Moilwa during a visit to the Kasane Health Post, run by the Sentebale charity, in Kasane

The Duke of Sussex walked through a minefield in Dirico, Angola on September 27. He visited to see the work of landmine clearance charity the Halo Trust

Highlights of Duke and Duchess of Sussex royal tour to Africa
Loaded: 0%
Progress: 0%
0:00
Previous
Play
Skip
Mute
Current Time0:00
/
Duration Time1:27
Fullscreen
Need Text
The Duke of Sussex, during a tree planting event with local schoolchildren, at the Chobe Tree Reserve, Botswana

The Duke of Sussex, during a tree planting event with local schoolchildren, at the Chobe Tree Reserve, Botswana

Prior to taking a trip with the anti-poaching patrol, Harry revealed his deep affinity with Botswana, adding: 'I came here in 1997 or 1998 straight after my mum died, so it was a nice place to get away from it all. I feel deeply connected to this place and to Africa'

Prior to taking a trip with the anti-poaching patrol, Harry revealed his deep affinity with Botswana, adding: 'I came here in 1997 or 1998 straight after my mum died, so it was a nice place to get away from it all. I feel deeply connected to this place and to Africa'

Sources defended the cost, saying it was a key visit approved by the Foreign Office and helped highlight the work of numerous charities. 

'The Duke and Duchess of Sussex undertook over 20 engagements, bringing attention to a number of worthwhile causes, in particular, raising awareness of the work and the legacy of the Halo Trust [an anti-landmine charity championed by Princess Diana],' the source said.

'The visit, as an official visit funded by the Government, fulfilled the objectives that were set out for it.'

A further £210,345 was spent by royal officials on a private charter plane to take Prince Charles to Oman to pay official respects after the death of the king. 

The trip lasted just two days. 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's tour to Pakistan last year was the third most expensive of the year, costing £117,116, but was considered a huge success by ministers.

Questions have also been raised about the £15,848 spent to flying beleaguered Prince Andrew by private jet to the Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland for a two-day trip to the Open Championship last July.

The club later dumped him as patron following his disastrous television interview in November.

A palace source defended Andrew's use of a charter instead of a scheduled flight, saying: 'In this particular case we concluded that, actually, the use of charter was the only way to get him to complete his engagements to fit in with his other programmes.'

Even diligent Princess Anne found herself under the spotlight for spending £16,440 on another private jet to take her from London to Rome and back to watch her beloved Scotland play in the Six Nations Rugby International against Italy. 

She is patron of Scottish Rugby Union. 

£41,035 was spent getting Prince Charles (pictured with the Pope in the Vatican) to Rome for the canonisation of Cardinal Newman

£41,035 was spent getting Prince Charles (pictured with the Pope in the Vatican) to Rome for the canonisation of Cardinal Newman

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's (pictured in London on September 15) tour to Pakistan last year was the third most expensive of the year, costing £117,116, but was considered a huge success by ministers

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's (pictured in London on September 15) tour to Pakistan last year was the third most expensive of the year, costing £117,116, but was considered a huge success by ministers

Questions have also been raised about the £15,848 spent to flying beleaguered Prince Andrew by private jet to the Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland (pictured)

Questions have also been raised about the £15,848 spent to flying beleaguered Prince Andrew by private jet to the Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland (pictured)

Princess Anne found herself under the spotlight for spending £16,440 on a private jet to take her from London to Rome and back to watch Scotland play in the Six Nations (pictured)

Princess Anne found herself under the spotlight for spending £16,440 on a private jet to take her from London to Rome and back to watch Scotland play in the Six Nations (pictured)


The total bill for royal travel in 2019/2020 was £5.3million, a 15.2 per cent increase on last year's £4.6million, according to the palace's annual report and accounts, published today.

Anti-monarchist campaign group Republic said the figures failed to reflect the true annual cost of the monarchy – which it puts at £345million by taking account of lost revenues from the royal estates, policing and the cost to other authorities such as local councils.

Spokesman Graham Smith said: 'These figures don't disclose the daily abuse of money on shorter trips around the country, taking helicopters when they could go by car, driving when they could go by train.

'A 15 per cent increase in travel costs when hospitals can't deliver the very best care to every person in need, when teachers are struggling to pay for the necessary books and equipment and the police are stretched to breaking point is scandalous. 

'Why is the Government paying for Prince Andrew to go to golfing tournaments, or Princess Anne to attend a rugby match in Italy? 

This is an abuse of public money far worse than the MPs' expenses scandal and it has to stop.' 

Buckingham Palace also confirmed yesterday that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have paid an 'undisclosed' sum upfront for the rental and refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage.

Critics had called for Harry and Meghan to pay back the £2.4million of taxpayers' money spent renovating their Windsor property, which they have decided to keep on as a permanent base in the UK despite buying an £11million mansion in California.

The accounts also revealed that the pot from which Prince Charles draws money for the Cambridges and Sussexes swelled to £5.6million – up £556,000 on last year.

The Duke of Sussex helps local schoolchildren plant trees at the Chobe Tree Reserve in Botswana, on day four of their tour of Africa

The Duke of Sussex helps local schoolchildren plant trees at the Chobe Tree Reserve in Botswana, on day four of their tour of Africa

Baby Archie meets the Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town
Loaded: 0%
Progress: 0%
0:00
Previous
Play
Skip
Mute
Current Time0:00
/
Duration Time2:10
Fullscreen
Need Text
Prince Harry is pictured holding a container as he chats to a young boy carrying a spade at the tree planting in northern Botswana

Prince Harry is pictured holding a container as he chats to a young boy carrying a spade at the tree planting in northern Botswana

Harry helps locals to plant trees at Chobe Tree Reserve in Botswana
Loaded: 0%
Progress: 0%
0:00
Previous
Play
Skip
Mute
Current Time0:00
/
Duration Time0:45
Fullscreen
Need Text
In an ITV documentary, Harry hinted that his wife and son Archie could head overseas to the African nation when talking to broadcaster Tom Bradby (pictured together)

In an ITV documentary, Harry hinted that his wife and son Archie could head overseas to the African nation when talking to broadcaster Tom Bradby (pictured together)


No comments