ENTERTAINMENT

The sky-high cost of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's grand African tour that tore the royals apart


Harry and Meghan's last official tour as members of the royal family cost British taxpayers nearly a quarter of a million pounds, official reports show today.

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

But the couple abandoned months of work by staff and diplomats after making a stinging reprimand against the media during the publicly funded trip, and secretly recorded an explosive television documentary in which Meghan painted Harry's family as loveless by them accused of failing ever to ask if she was "okay".

The Sussexes, who also took young son Archie on the trip, resigned months later as senior royals and now live in the U.S., where they are financially independent after signing a multi-million pound contract with Netflix.

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

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

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

Pictured: Baby Archie is kissed on the forehead by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the hands of his mother, the Duchess of Sussex in Cape Town, on the third day of her Africa tour

Pictured: Baby Archie is kissed on the forehead by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the hands of his mother, the Duchess of Sussex in Cape Town, on the third day of her Africa tour

The Duke of Sussex walked through a minefield in Dirico, Angola on September 27th. He attended the work of the landmine-clearance organization Halo Trust

Prince Harry hugged Tlotlo Moilwa during a visit to the Kasane Health Post, operated by the Sentebale charity in Kasane

The Duke of Sussex walked through a minefield in Dirico, Angola on September 27th. He attended the work of the landmine-clearance organization Halo Trust

The Duke of Sussex during a tree planting event with local school children in the Chobe Tree Reserve in Botswana

The Duke of Sussex during a tree planting event with local school children in the Chobe Tree Reserve in Botswana

Before Harry went on a trip with the anti-poaching patrol, Harry showed his deep affinity for Botswana, adding, “I came here in 1997 or 1998 right after my mother passed away, so it was a nice place to watch everyday life escape. I feel deeply connected to this place and to Africa. & # 39;

Before Harry went on a trip with the anti-poaching patrol, Harry showed his deep affinity for Botswana, adding, “I came here in 1997 or 1998 right after my mother passed away, so it was a nice place to watch everyday life escape. I feel deeply connected to this place and to Africa. & # 39;

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

"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made over 20 engagements to raise awareness of a number of worthwhile reasons, most notably to raise awareness of the work and heritage of the Halo Trust (an anti-landmine charity championed by Princess Diana) sharpen." Source said.

"The visit as an official visit, which was funded by the government, fulfilled the objectives set for it."

Another £ 210,345 was spent by royal officials on a private charter plane to take Prince Charles to Oman to pay his respects after the king's death.

The trip only lasted two days.

The Duke and Duchess' trip to Pakistan from Cambridge last year was the third costliest of the year at £ 117,116 but was viewed as a huge success by ministers.

Questions were also raised about the £ 15,848 spent to fly the beleaguered Prince Andrew on a 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 fired him as patron after his disastrous television interview in November.

A palace source defended Andrews' use of a charter instead of a scheduled flight, saying, "In this particular case, we concluded that using charter was actually the only way to get him to meet his obligations to board to fit his other programs. & # 39;

Even hardworking Princess Anne was in the spotlight for having spent £ 16,440 on another private jet to take her from London to Rome and back and see her beloved Scotland at Six Nations Rugby International against Italy.

She is the patron of the Scottish Rugby Union.

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

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

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's (pictured in London on September 15) trip to Pakistan last year was the third costliest of the year at £ 117,116 but was viewed as a huge success by ministers

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's (pictured in London on September 15) trip to Pakistan last year was the third costliest of the year at £ 117,116 but was viewed as a huge success by ministers

Questions were also raised about the £ 15,848 spent to fly the beleaguered Prince Andrew on a private jet to the Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland (pictured)

Questions were also raised about the £ 15,848 spent to fly the beleaguered Prince Andrew on a private jet to the Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland (pictured)

Princess Anne was in 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 was in 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)

£ 63,000 for three train journeys

Only three journeys were made on the Royal Train last year – at a cost of over £ 63,000. Only the Queen and Prince of Wales are allowed to use the distinctive red wine paintwork locomotive, which has sleeping, dining and lounge cars.

Charles used it to travel from his Gloucestershire home to Carlisle on royal visits, which cost £ 20,822. He also used it to visit Wales at a cost of £ 19,737. The Queen traveled only once by train from London to Edinburgh last year to spend her annual week at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. That trip cost taxpayers £ 22,696.

The royal train, pictured to the left of the queen, has long been a point of contention but is typically used ten to 14 times a year. When asked if the decline in use meant it should be scrapped, a royal source argued that the royal train was still an "effective and efficient" means of travel.

Buckingham Palace claims that it is providing the elderly monarch with a safe way to travel overnight, reducing security costs.

The total bill for royal travel was £ 5.3m in 2019/2020, up 15.2 percent from £ 4.6m in the previous year. This emerges from the palace's annual report and accounts published today.

Anti-monarchist campaign group Republic said the numbers do not reflect the monarchy's true annual cost, which comes to £ 345 million when they factor in lost revenue from royal estates, policing and costs to other agencies such as local councils.

Spokesman Graham Smith said: “These numbers do not reveal the daily misuse of money on shorter trips around the country, taking helicopters when they could drive, drive when they could take the train.

“A 15 percent increase in travel expenses when hospitals cannot provide the best possible care for everyone in need, when teachers have difficulty paying for the books and equipment they need, and the police are stretched to the point of breaking, is scandalous.

“Why is the government paying for Prince Andrew to participate in golf tournaments or for Princess Anne to participate in a rugby game in Italy?

"This is a misuse of public money far worse than the MPs spending scandal, and it needs to stop."

Buckingham Palace also confirmed yesterday that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex paid an undisclosed sum upfront to rent and renovate Frogmore Cottage.

Critics had asked Harry and Meghan to repay the £ 2.4million in taxpayers' money they spent renovating their Windsor property. They have decided to stay in the UK as a permanent base despite purchasing an 11 million pound California mansion.

The reports also showed that Prince Charles gave the Cambridges and Sussexes no less than £ 5.6 million – £ 556,000 more than he gave them last year.

The Duke of Sussex is helping local school children plant trees in the Chobe Tree Reserve in Botswana on the fourth day of their Africa tour

The Duke of Sussex is helping local school children plant trees in the Chobe Tree Reserve in Botswana on day four of their Africa tour

Prince Harry holds a container in his hand as he chats with a boy who carries a spade while planting trees in northern Botswana

Prince Harry holds a container in his hand as he chats with a boy who carries a spade while planting trees in northern Botswana

In an ITV documentary, Harry hinted that his wife and son Archie could travel overseas to the African nation while speaking to broadcaster Tom Bradby (pictured together).

In an ITV documentary, Harry hinted that his wife and son Archie could travel overseas to the African nation while speaking to broadcaster Tom Bradby (pictured together).

Palace £ 35 million funding bottleneck – but will do not leave public Pay the bill while elderly helpers tell the household to tighten their belts

Buckingham Palace has admitted Covid-19 has a funding shortage of £ 35 million – but says it will not ask for additional public funds.

Senior royal advisors said the household needs to tighten its belts, which could result in job losses.

Last year, the Queen, who in April was 94 still doing 296 official engagements, received £ 82.4 million in taxes – known as the Sovereign Grant.

The palace says that is the equivalent of £ 1.23 for every person in the UK.

The figure is made up of a £ 49.4 million core grant that will be used to fund official travel, property maintenance and household running costs in her role as Head of State.

Buckingham Palace has admitted Covid-19 has a funding shortage of £ 35 million - but says it will not ask for additional public funds

Buckingham Palace has admitted it has a £ 35m funding shortage due to Covid-19 – but says it will not ask for additional public funds

Last year, the Queen (pictured in July), who in April still carried out 296 official engagements in spite of her 94th year of life, received £ 82.4 million in tax money - known as the Sovereign Grant

Last year, the Queen (pictured in July), who in April still carried out 296 official engagements in spite of her 94th year of life, received £ 82.4 million in tax money – known as the Sovereign Grant

More than 139,000 guests were welcomed to royal residences across the country, including Donald Trump, with £ 69.4 million spent on official expenses

More than 139,000 guests were welcomed to royal residences across the country, including Donald Trump, with £ 69.4 million spent on official expenses

Trump: Good luck Harry, you will need it

Donald Trump attacked Meghan for her perceived interference in the US elections, saying, "I'm not a fan of her."

He wished Harry & # 39; luck & # 39; adding, & # 39; He's going to need it. & # 39;

It came after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex delivered a thinly veiled blow on him prior to the November election. Harry urged voters to "reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity".

Although Harry and Meghan resigned from royal life, they vowed to uphold the Queen's values, who always remain apolitical. But Meghan said in a video on Wednesday: "If we vote, our values ​​will be put into action and our voices will be heard."

This is not the first time Mr Trump and Meghan have been verbally beaten. Last year the president called her "angry" for her previous criticism of him.

Another £ 33 million was provided under a £ 365 million ten-year reservation of the crumbling Buckingham Palace agreed after aides successfully argued that the building was on its last legs.

However, Buckingham Palace faces difficult times in the years to come, including a £ 20 million deficit in funding the reservation program.

A loss of £ 5 million per year from funding from the Royal Collection Trust is also expected over the next three years as the palace is closed to visitors and tourism continues to decline.

The Queen's Official Guardian Sir Michael Stevens said: "In answering these two financial challenges, we have no intention of soliciting additional funding and will seek to manage the implications through our own efforts and efficiency gains."

He did not rule out the loss of jobs among the 488 employees.

A wage freeze for royal staff was introduced in April and the hiring will be discontinued as only "business critical" positions are being filled.

Members of the royal family carried out nearly 3,200 official engagements in the UK and overseas last year.

More than 139,000 guests were welcomed to royal residences across the country, including Donald Trump, with £ 69.4 million spent on official expenses.

Sir Michael said even though the virus changed the format of events that year and even the Queen is now doing some video calling engagements, she and her family still offered "continuity, security and appreciation".

He added, "Her Majesty's program, supported by her family, will continue to develop meaningful avenues to lead the nation through this time."

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