Public still funding Prince’s trade trips

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The Independent Online

The Duke of York has covered more air miles per month promoting Britain's business interests since he stood down as a trade ambassador than he did when he held the post, it was revealed last night.

In the four months since resigning as Special Representative for UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), Prince Andrew has flown 40,800 miles and spent 28 days abroad. In the same period last year, he flew 29,500 miles and spent 22 nights abroad.

Destinations included Saudi Arabia – for which he travelled on a jet hired for £40,000 – Qatar, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

A spokesman for UKTI was reported as saying "it was always the intention that he would continue to work with the British Government to promote British trade and investment overseas, and the recent trips are evidence of that". A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said the trips were arranged before he stood down as trade ambassador.

The Prince's trips to promote trade are unpaid but his travel expenses are met by the taxpayer. It is thought that his total travel costs for 2011-12 could exceed that of the previous year, which reached almost £360,000.

He stood down as trade envoy in July after being criticised for his links to controversial businessmen.