The travel costs for Harry and Meghan’s high-profile tour of southern Africa came to £246,000 – and flights for a two-day visit to Oman taken by Prince of Wales cost £210,345.
The standout figures from the royal finances for 2019-20 come as officials warn that the royal accounts are set to take a £35m hit as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Prince Charles had flown to Oman to pay his condolences following the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said – and private charter flights needed to be used because the visit was at very short notice.
Both trips were on behalf of the UK government and the Foreign Office.
Other trips that stand out include Prince Andrew taking a private plane to Northern Ireland to attend the Royal Portrush Golf Club’s Open championship at a cost of £15,848.
Princess Anne also used a charter flight costing £16,440 so she could fly to Rome to watch Scotland play rugby as their patron.
During the annual briefing on the royal finances, it emerged that a loss of £15m is expected over the next three years as a result of a drop in income from the Royal Collection Trust, which has seen a substantial drop in visitors to properties such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.
Meanwhile, a £369m programme to update electrical cabling, plumbing and heating at Buckingham Palace over 10 years is expected to be £20m short.
Sir Michael Stevens, Keeper of the Privy Purse said: “In responding to both these financial challenges we have no intention of asking for extra funding and will look to manage the impact through our own efforts and efficiencies.”
A pay freeze for royal staff was implemented in April and there is also a halt on recruitment, with only business-critical posts being filled.
Accounts for the Sovereign Grant show the monarchy cost the taxpayer £69.4m in 2019-20, an increase of £2.4m on the previous financial year.
Funding the “core” part of the Sovereign Grant for official duties – excluding funds for the long-term Buckingham Palace works – costs 74p per person.
David McClure, author of The Queen’s True Worth, said: “At the moment, people are feeling a bit sorry for the palace because they’ve got a big black hole in their pocket due to COVID.
“But one should equally remember that in the last nine years, the Sovereign Grant has really gone up and up and up.
“It’s actually gone up by two-thirds in the last nine years and if you look at inflation, inflation has only gone up 20%, so they really have had a rise income in the last decade or so.
“Now it’s sort of flattening out and plateauing so yes, they have a problem but they’ve really had good times for the last nine years or so.”
Meanwhile it was confirmed that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have paid an undisclosed sum upfront for renting Frogmore Cottage.
Last month, it was announced that the couple had paid for the £2.4m refurbishment but a senior palace source said: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made a substantial contribution to the Sovereign Grant that covers refurbishment and rental obligations for Frogmore Cottage.
“The reporting method for this contribution has yet to be determined and will have to be agreed by the National Audit Office before appearing in next year’s accounts.”
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