A Private Train and Other Insane Royal Family Travel Expenses
A lot goes into coordinating a royal family excursion. Sorting out logistics of the next big family trip can take up to six months. Every last detail is planned — right down to having each royal’s bag of blood on hand in case of an emergency. And there’s the alcohol bag police bodyguards sometimes carry, so there is no danger of spiked drinks.
With so much precision surrounding royal travel, it can be assumed that touring is no cheap feat. In fact, the privy purse shelled out over $6 million on travel in the past year alone. The royal family uses the 76 million pound sovereign grant (1 pound is $1.33 as of June 2018) to cover travel and other expenses, such as upkeep of Buckingham Palace, landscaping, and stamps. Yes, stamps.
Six million is a lot of dough. So it’s no wonder the royal family can afford these eight insane travel expenses.
1. A royal yacht
Plans for a new 100 million pound royal yacht, Britannia, seem to be in full swing. This new yacht would be bigger, better, and faster than the last royal yacht, which was decommissioned in 1997. The Britannia would house 50 people. But it would cut costs by forgoing a helicopter deck area and using a strengthened deck instead.
Is it worth the additional travel expense? Prince Philip thinks so. He’s keen on any taxpayer investment he believes would showcase “everything that is best in Britain” while also helping to secure additional trade deals post Brexit. Though initial funding would come from private donors, cabinet ministers estimate about 10 million pounds in annual running costs thereafter.
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2. An army of helpers
Royal travel is an all-hands-on-deck type of event. In addition to a Royal Navy doctor and security bodyguards, the entourage travels with anywhere from seven to 12 staff members. That means Kate Middleton’s personal hairdresser, her private secretary, the royal nanny (who earns a 38,000 pound annual salary as a live-in, rent-free babysitter), and the official photographer all require seats for every royal trip.
Next: It’s shocking how much the royal family spends on air travel.
3. The royal jet
The Royal Air Force jet that transports members of the royal family recently underwent a 10 million pound interior makeover. The government claimed it would save taxpayers 775,000 pounds a year on money not being spent on private charters.
It’s now a completely tricked out Airbus A330 adorned with 58 business seats suitable for long hauls. Still, this royal travel expense will cost roughly 2,000 pounds per flying hour, CNBC reports.
Next: The queen prefers this costly mode of transportation.
4. A private train
Should they choose to forgo air travel, the family can board the royal train equipped with nine carriages, including a bathroom, bedroom, and multiple sitting parlors. It’s the queen’s preferred method of travel, so she arrives rested and prepared to conduct official royal engagements. Still, a rail excursion is quite expensive. Running and maintaining the royal train costs between 800,000 and 900,000 pounds each year for fewer than 15 trips annually. That equates to an estimated 52 pounds per mile, compared with 12 pounds per mile by air.
Royal sources tell Metro UK, “We believe that, though it’s not the cheapest way to travel, it does represent many of the features that we look for in terms of safety, security, not causing disruption to lots of other people — convenience — environmental aspects it’s strong on as well.”
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5. A mourning outfit
When packing for a vacation, most of us have a checklist: shirt, pants, socks, toothbrush. But the royal family’s travel necessities include one more mandatory thing just in case something unfortunate happens back home. Every member of the royal family must pack a mourning outfit they can return home in should a family member die during an international journey. According to The Independent, this ensures they return to the U.K. in the respectable and mournful manner the public expects.
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6. Monogrammed luggage
It’s hard to imagine the Duchess of Cambridge’s impressively expensive royal wardrobe being stuffed into luggage bought from Target. No, even their packaging arrangements are grand. Prince William, like every other member of the family, totes personalized clothes covers monogrammed with a “W” and a crown. His designer leather briefcase costs about 395 pounds, while Kate’s Bric’s suede suitcase runs 319 pounds. Kate’s personal stylist totes a vintage Moneypenny Leather Vanity Case by swanky brand Globe-Trotter. The latest version, which has an internal mirror and a jewelry tray, costs 640 pounds.
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7. Royal road warriors
The queen is quite the car enthusiast. In fact, her car collection of Jaguars, Range Rovers, and Bentleys are worth an estimated 10 million pounds. She became one of the first owners of the Bentley Bentayga, launched in 2015, which retails at 162,000 pounds for the basic entry level model.
The state fleet is equally as impressive as her personal collection. For most of her public engagements, and some ceremonial occasions, the queen is chauffeured in official state cars that have been customized especially for the royals. The state fleet consists of three Rolls-Royces, three Daimlers, and two Bentleys, all of which are kept at Buckingham Palace. Other vehicles in the royal fleet include several Volkswagens as support cars.
Next: Why there’s some criticism surrounding the royal family’s travel expenses
8. Holidays sometimes disguised as promotional trips
The hefty travel portion of the sovereign grant is often validated by promotional trips and official royal engagements. But it’s debatable whether funding these pricey trips are fair because not every line of the travel itinerary is always business related. William and Kate’s pricey trip to India and Bhutan did include a meeting with the prime minister, but they also managed to squeeze in an open-air safari in Kaziranga National Park, as well as a quick archery lesson in Paro, Bhutan.
Other trips taken by Prince Charles and Camilla seem to have a vacation flair to them, as well. A nine-day tour of Italy, Romania, and Austria totaled 154,000 pounds, while their trip to Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman cost roughly 93,000 pounds — not including the shopping trips Camilla indulged in. Prince Harry’s official visit to Chile conveniently coincided with the World Cup in 2015. He managed to attend two matches, which put the trip total over 100,000 pounds.
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