William and Kate’s Caribbean tour flights cost taxpayer more than £226,000, royal accounts show

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were heavily criticised over the trip for images that smacked of “colonialism”

The flights for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s controversial Caribbean tour cost the taxpayer more than £226,000, royal accounts show.

The travel bill for the monarchy’s official duties, funded by the taxpayer through the Sovereign Grant, came to £4.5 million in total in 2021-2022.

The amount rose by £1.3 million – or around 41% – from £3.2 million the previous financial year as the royals started embarking on overseas tours again following the lifting of Covid restrictions.

William and Kate’s Caribbean trip was the most expensive royal tour of 2021-22 (Photo: PA)William and Kate’s Caribbean trip was the most expensive royal tour of 2021-22 (Photo: PA)
William and Kate’s Caribbean trip was the most expensive royal tour of 2021-22 (Photo: PA)

Most expensive official royal tour of 2021-22

William and Kate’s trip in March saw the couple travel to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas by charter jet, and their staff by scheduled flights for a planning trip, at a cost of £226,383, making it the most expensive royal tour of 2021-22.

The couple were heavily criticised for images that smacked of “colonialism” during the trip, and were met by protests and demands for apologies and slavery reparations.

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, which is used by the royal family and the government, is now run on sustainable aviation fuel.

Sir Clive Alderton, the prince’s principal private secretary, said: “The prince has personally driven the move to the use of sustainable aviation fuel, which is now used for all official travel wherever possible.”

Prince Charles’ Barbados flight cost £183k

Royal accounts also show that the Prince of Wales’s charter 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.

An official royal trip to Jordan and Egypt, which saw Charles and Camilla travel to Amman, Cairo and Alexandria, also came to more than £123,500, and included a charter plane, a helicopter and scheduled flights for staff.

A royal source said Prince Charles was working to reconcile the conflict between his responsibilities travelling around the world on royal duties and his role as an environmental champion.

The prince is “pretty allergic” to travelling by helicopter and will always “raise an eyebrow” and object when the mode of transport is suggested, according to the source.

They said: “There is this rigorous process that you only get to top-end travel options if every other option fails.

“If the recommendation goes to the Prince of Wales, he will raise an eyebrow and say ‘go through this again’.

“And it won’t take very long for us to check what the reason was that he had to be in one place at one time, there at another time, and therefore it was the only option.”

Accounts show Prince Charles also took a charter plane and a helicopter for his trip to Belfast and around Northern Ireland in May 2021, at a cost of more than £29,600, while the prince and the Duchess of Cornwall flew by helicopter in July on their annual visit to Wales, with the bill coming to £15,920.

Prince Charles also took a helicopter trip for the 70-mile journey from London to RAF Brize Norton in November ahead of his official visit to Jordan and Egypt.

Some 179 official helicopter journeys, costing less than £15,000 each, were made by the royal family in 2021-2022 at a cost of more than £906,000.

Charles’s disgraced brother the Duke of York was known for his excessive use of helicopters at great cost to the taxpayer.

The Queen’s trip to Scotland on the royal train for Royal Week in June 2021 cost more than £46,400, while William and Kate’s charter flight and helicopter journey for a visit to Scotland in May 2021 amounted to nearly £45,200.

Key figures from the royal accounts for 2021-22

  • £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
  • £102.4 million – Official expenditure by the monarchy – a rise of £14.9 million or 17% from £87.5 million in 2020/2021
  • 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
  • £1.3 million– Cost of housekeeping and hospitality for the royal household – an increase of half a million or 55%
  • 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
  • £4.5million – Cost of official royal travel, a rise of £1.2 million or around 41% from £3.2 million the previous year
  • £226,383 – Cost of official travel for William and Kate’s controversial Caribbean tour
  • £138,457 – Charles’s travel costs for trip to Barbados to mark country’s transition to a republic