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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's £246,000 Africa tour was the most expensive royal trip of 2019

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·4-min read

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s tour in Africa last October was the most expensive royal trip of the year, costing £246,000 for travel alone, accounts have revealed.

The Royal Family has released the Sovereign Grant accounts, which show how taxpayer money has funded them over the course of the year.

Harry and Meghan took a 10 day tour in South Africa, with their son Archie, and Harry then also went to Angola, Malawi and Botswana on his own.

It was their first and last tour abroad as senior Royal Family members, as they took an extended break afterwards, and then decided to step back from their roles.

According to the accounts, the flights alone cost the palace nearly a quarter of a million pounds.

Security costs are never revealed in detail.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 24: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex visits the Auwal Mosque during day two of their royal tour of South Africa on September 24, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by TPool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Harry and Meghan at the Auwal Mosque during day two of their royal tour of South Africa. (WireImage)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - OCTOBER 02: (UK OUT FOR 28 DAYS) Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex meet Graca Machel, widow of the late Nelson Mandela on October 02, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Duke last met with Mrs Machel during his visit to South Africa in 2015.   (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Meghan and Harry with Graca Machel, widow of the late Nelson Mandela in South Africa. (WireImage)

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However, if costs are worked out per day, Prince Charles had the most expensive trip. His two day visit to Oman to pay his condolences after the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said cost £210,345 in flights.

The Sussexes southern Africa trip was overshadowed after the couple announced Meghan’s legal action against the Mail On Sunday and the MailOnline towards the end of it.

She is suing them over its publication of her handwritten letter to her father, Thomas Markle, after her wedding to Prince Harry.

Harry, 36, also announced he was taking action against News Group Newspapers and Reach plc over historic phone hacking allegations.

Before the legal announcements, Harry and Meghan had a successful tour, which included taking Archie, then four months old, to meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Meghan, 39, also made a speech in which she told women in a township she was there “as a woman of colour”.

It was also the place they filmed a documentary for ITV, which proved a talking point as Meghan said she had not been asked if she was OK, and Harry said he and his brother were “on different paths”.

Although they have since stepped back as senior royals, a source has told PA there would not be any need for them to pay back the cost of the trip, as it was carried out when they were working and on request of the British government.

“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.”

Prince Andrew also features on the Sovereign Grant list, as he did not step back until November last year, part of the way through the financial year. His trip to Northern Ireland for the Royal Portrush Golf Club’s Open championship cost £15,848 in flights.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 25: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe at the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation during their royal tour of South Africa on September 25, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Harry and Meghan took Archie Mountbatten-Windsor to meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe. (WireImage)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex gives a speech as she visits the Nyanga Township with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa.   (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Meghan gave a speech in Cape Town, referring to herself as the sister of the women there. (WireImage)

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Princess Anne’s charter flight to Rome to watch Scotland vs Italy in the Six Nations cost £16,440. She is patron of Scotland’s rugby team.

The royal source also told PA the choice of charter for Prince Andrew reflected getting the trip to fit into a busy schedule, while the short notice of Charles’s Oman trip meant it was more expensive.

The total cost of travel for the Royal Family in the financial year 2019/20 was £5.3m. It was up £700,000 compared with last year.

The true impact of coronavirus will not be obvious in these accounts as they don’t cover most of the period of lockdown in the UK.

Keeper of the Privy Purse, Sir Michael Stevens, said: “The majority of the year under review took place before the impact of COVID-19 set in, with the Royal Family undertaking a range of significant visits to communities in the UK and overseas. The Queen hosted the President and First Lady of the United States of America on a State Visit and led the country in national moments of remembrance such as the 75th anniversary of D-Day and Armistice Day.

“Although COVID-19 has temporarily changed the format of engagements and events, it has not changed the sense of continuity, reassurance and recognition they provide. Her Majesty’s programme, supported by Her family, will continue to develop meaningful ways to lead the nation through this time.”

The Sovereign Grant is calculated based on the profits from the Crown Estate in the two years’ previous each year.

Last week, the Crown Estate papers revealed there had been a downgrading of £552.5m ($717m) in its portfolio.