Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of How the Royal Family Travels
Packing and planning for a big trip can be stressful no matter who you are. But when you’re a member of the royal family, that stress is exponentially higher.
Sure, you have people to help you organize your trip, so it’s not like you’ll wind up stranded in some crappy Airbnb. But between the extra security measures and the strange rules that British royal family members have to follow, it can be a huge undertaking even with the added assistance. Plus, the sheer number of trips royals are expected to take is a lot higher than the average amount of travel days for regular citizens.
Ever wonder about all the moving parts that go into organizing a trip for the royal family? Read on to discover some of their craziest little-known travel secrets.
1. Their trips aren’t vacations
Yes, the royals go on holiday. But most of their trips are more focused on business than pleasure.
Telegraph reporter Gordon Rayner has joined the royal family on more than 20 tours. As he shared, “Touring the world, meeting heads of state, and being shown cultural treasures sounds like a wonderful life, yet I have no envy for the royal family. Their visits to world-famous sites rarely last more than 40 minutes, and the chances are they will never return.”
Next: This habit ensures the future king won’t get poisoned.
2. They travel with their own alcohol
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles occasionally bring their own booze to ensure that their drinks don’t get spiked. Some may call it paranoid — but a royal family member can never be too cautious.
Rayner told the Telegraph that their police bodyguard discreetly carries a bag containing a gin and tonic for the future king and red wine for his wife.
Next: The reason Kate doesn’t bother packing her own blow dryer.
3. The royals bring their official entourage with them
It’s not the same people every time, but the royal family travels with their palace staff rather than forge forward on their own. During Prince William and Kate’s 2016 Canadian tour, they brought along Kate’s personal hairdresser and private secretary along with the royal nanny for the kids.
Other attendees included the communications chief to William, Kate, and Harry, a senior communications officer, a press officer, and William’s private secretary.
Typically, Will and Kate travel with around 12 staff members, but the Queen’s travel entourage is closer to 34 people.
Next: Royals also have to endure this common travel hassle.
4. The royals have to go through immigration
They may not have to stand in customs lines with the masses, but the royal family is required to go through the immigration process and show their passports. Even Prince George needed his own passport for a family trip to Australia.
There is one exception to this rule, however. Queen Elizabeth does not need to carry a passport, though she does need to submit to an identity check and provide her full name, age, address, nationality, birthplace, and gender.
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5. Queen Elizabeth brings along her own blood
When she’s traveling to countries where a reliable blood supply isn’t guaranteed, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales travel with their own blood in a convoy that follows them wherever they go.
Next: This is the queen’s secret trick to hiding her unmentionables.
6. It’s unlikely the Queen will have a Marilyn Monroe moment
The Queen’s travel skirt is weighted to keep it from blowing up in the wind when she’s getting off the airplane.
Next: Keep an eye out on your next flight — you could see a royal.
7. They sometimes fly commercial
When you think of royal travel, you probably picture private jets stocked with crystal stemware. But in reality, the royals are just as likely to fly commercial to save some money.
With all their engagements, the royals can spend several million dollars on travel every year. In an effort to cut costs, they’ve been known to take commercial airlines on occasion.
Next: They mostly use this one airline, though.
8. They support British Airways
When the royal family does fly commercial, you’re most likely to find them supporting their home country by flying British Airways. In 2011, William and Kate experienced the very common problem of boredom when their BA plane’s in-flight entertainment broke!
The Duchess especially knows her way around a British Airways plane — both of her parents work for the airline.
Next: Royals take this travel aspect very seriously.
9. There’s serious security
Just because the royals sometimes fly on commercial airlines it doesn’t mean they’re lax on security. No matter how they’re traveling, all family members are always accompanied by a highly trained team of security personnel.
Next: Prince William breaks this royal rule all the time.
10. Two heirs aren’t supposed to fly together
Royal protocol dictates that two heirs are not supposed to fly together on the same plane. This protects the lineage in the tragic event of a plane crash.
While this isn’t an official rule, in order to circumvent the custom the heirs must broach the topic with Queen Elizabeth and get her permission to take the same flight. Prince William first broke protocol when Prince George was just nine months old and has since done it several more times with both of his children. Always with the queen’s permission, of course.
Next: Here’s why you won’t catch them getting off a plane in jeans.
11. Royals adhere to a travel dress code
In case you were picturing the Duchess of Cambridge traveling in leggings and a messy bun … don’t.
It seems unlikely that the perfectly polished Kate would ever dress down, and she certainly doesn’t when she’s traveling. Kate usually arrives at her destination in a two-piece suit or a long dress while the future king of England William dons a suit or blazer with slacks.
Next: This trick keeps their luggage organized.
12. They have fancy monogrammed luggage
No, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge don’t shop for clearance luggage at HomeGoods.
Each member of the royal family has specially color-coded luggage. Prince William’s includes a monogrammed letter W with a crown, and Prince George’s color is, predictably, baby blue.
Next: One trip can cost as much as a house.
13. There’s a seven-figure budget for travel
Individual trips may not cost much, but when you factor in just how many royal family members travel in a given year, the costs can creep into the seven figures.
For example, Prince William’s weeklong tour of Japan and China cost just over $100,000 and Harry’s trip to Chile and Brazil was $135,000 including his flight fee and staff. Meanwhile, Prince Charles and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall had the most expensive trip of 2016. Their visit to Italy, Romania, and Austria cost a cool $200,000.
Next: There’s no time for impromptu excursions.
14. Every minute of the trip is specifically planned
As Rayner explained to the Telegraph, royal tours are “choreographed to the minute,” with details as minute as when the queen sits down for dinner to the precise moment she gets into a vehicle decided in advance.
Next: This is why the photos of royals always look so perfect.
15. Royal photographers come along, too
The photographs you see of the royals traveling are far from random. Photographer Arthur Edwards is a frequent guest on royal tours and is tasked with capturing the perfect shot.
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