The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s flights for their controversial Caribbean tour cost the taxpayer more than £226,000, royal accounts have shown.
In 2021-2022, the total travel bill for the monarchy’s official duties, funded by the taxpayer, came to £4.5 million.
The accounts reveal the breakdown of spending by the Royal Family including tours and flight costs, spending on property maintenance and how much it all costs the taxpayer.
In all, official expenditure by the monarchy was £104.2 million, up 17% on the previous year, with £86.3 million coming from the Sovereign Grant – a single payment given to the Queen each year by the government to fund official royal duties and upkeep.
Cambridge’s trip most expensive tour
The pair’s trip in March to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas saw the couple travel by charter jet, and their staff by scheduled flights for a planning trip.
It was heavily criticised for images that were said to have smacked of “colonialism”, alongside protests and demands for apologies and slavery reparations.
The pair also cancelled a major engagement in Belize after villagers staged a protest against their visit.
The Cambridge’s trip was the most expensive official royal tour of 2021-22.
However, royal aides revealed that Prince Charles had personally spearheaded a switch to the use of sustainable aviation fuel on royal flights in a bid to combat the environmental impact of The Firm’s globe-trotting.
The ministerial RAF Voyager jet – used by the royal family and the government – is now run on sustainable aviation fuel.
Charles’ Barbados flight cost over £138k
The accounts also revealed that Prince Charles’ flight to Barbados to mark the country’s transition to a republic, and his staff’s scheduled air travel for the event, came to more than £138,000.
Barbados celebrated the occasion in December last year, marking 55 years after it gained independence from the UK.
The total travel costs for an official trip to Jordan and Egypt – which saw Charles and Camilla journey to Amman, Cairo and Alexandria – came to in excess of £123,500 including charter plane, the helicopter and scheduled flights for staff.
Key figures from the royal accounts for 2020-2021:
£86.3 million – The total taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant, made up of £51.8 million for the “core” funding and an extra £34.5 million for the reservicing of Buckingham Palace.
£1.29 – Cost per person in the UK of funding the total Sovereign Grant.
£226,383 – Cost of official travel for William and Kate’s controversial Caribbean tour.
9.6% – Proportion of staff from ethnic minority backgrounds working for Buckingham Palace, compared to 8.5% in 2020-21. The target was 10%.
£63.9 million – Spending on property maintenance – up £14.4 million or 29% from £49.5 million in 2020-21.
201 – Official engagements carried out by the Queen in the last financial year – 88 more than the 113 she undertook in 2020-2021 during the pandemic.
£1.3 million- Cost of housekeeping and hospitality for the royal household – an increase of half a million or 55%.
£138,457 – Charles’s travel costs for trip to Barbados to mark country’s transition to a republic.
Rental agreement for Frogmore Cottage ‘good deal’
A senior palace source has said Prince Harry and Meghan’s rental contract for their UK home represents a “good deal” for the taxpayer.
The couple are funding the general upkeep of their former home, like maintaining the garden, with the Sovereign Grant effectively acting as the “landlord”, undertaking major works like a normal tenant-landlord relationship.
The pair paid £2.4m to cover the refurbishment and rental of Frogmore Cottage at Windsor Castle.
The senior royal source said the rent “has been calculated by reference to market valuations for a property of that nature”.
The National Audit Office and the Treasury were “satisfied” with the way the transaction had been accounted for and the “commercial return” for the Sovereign Grant, the source added.
“I can be confident in saying that this is a good deal for the Sovereign Grant and the taxpayer alike.”
The accounts also revealed that £63.9m was spent on property maintenance, up £14.4 million or 29% from £49.5 million in 2020-21.