Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Africa tour cost taxpayers £245,000, accounts show

Couple took their son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor on the trip in September last year

Olivia Petter
Friday 25 September 2020 07:42
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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s tour to Africa last year cost the taxpayer £245,643, new accounts show.

The couple took their then-four-month-old son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor on his first overseas trip in September, after which Harry went on to travel solo to Malawi, Botswana and Angola.

The flights that the couple took cost nearly a quarter of a million pounds, making it the most expensive royal journey taken in 2019-2020, according to royal records.

This cost included scheduled flights to and from South Africa, Harry's charter flights for the subsequent solo trips and scheduled flights for a staff planning visit.

A senior royal source insisted the couple are under no obligation to pay the money back after announcing their decision to quit as senior royals in March, stressing it was a key visit approved by the Foreign Office.

They also said it helped to highlight the work of numerous charities and issues such as gender-based violence. The couple also made a visit to meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu with their son.

"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," the source said.

"So, the visit, as an official visit funded by the government, fulfilled the objectives that were set out for it and so therefore there would be no requirement or obligation on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to make any payments in relation to that official visit."

The figures are revealed in Buckingham Palace's Sovereign Grant financial report, which reveals other costly trips taken by members of the royal family in the last year.

The Prince of Wales took a charter flight costing £210,345 for a two-day visit to Oman so that Charles could pay his condolences following the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

The source said the trip was taken at short notice and other options were not available.

Prince Andrew took a charter flight to Northern Ireland to attend the Royal Portrush Golf Club Open Championship, at a cost of £15,848, according to the records.

Meanwhile, Princess Anne flew a chartered plane in Februray to Rome to watch the Italy v Scotland Six Nations rugby match, a trip that cost £16,440.

Additionally, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's racked up travel costs of £117,116 for their trip to Pakistan in October last year. 

The overall cost to the taxpayer of official royal travel, was £5.3m in the last financial year.

News of Harry and Meghan’s expenses comes after the couple faced criticism for urging Americans to register to vote in the upcoming US election during a televised Time 100 special.

On Tuesday, the couple appeared on the TV broadcast, seemingly via video call from the back garden of their Santa Barbara home, and congratulated this year’s Time winners as well as discussing the importance of voting in the presidential election. 

“Every four years, we are told the same thing, that ‘This is the most important election of our lifetime’. But this one is," Meghan said. 

“When we vote, our values are put into action and our voices are heard. Your voice is a reminder that you matter. Because you do. And you deserve to be heard.”

The Independent has contacted a representative for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

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