Why Kate Middleton and Prince William’s Controversial Caribbean Tour Was So Incredibly Expensive

When Prince William and Kate Middleton took a tour of Belize, Jamaica, and the Bahamas in March, their plan was to celebrate Queen Elizabeth and her Platinum Jubilee with people who still call her the head-of-state. But from the beginning, the trip was marked by protests, awkward pictures, and uncomfortable meetings, making clear the monarchy’s uncertain future around the Commonwealth. According to the monarchy’s annual expense reports released Wednesday, the tour was also the Palace’s biggest expense of the year at £226,383. 

The figure includes the cost of William and Kate’s journey on the RAF Voyager, an Airbus 330 used by the royals and government VIP, and a separate staff planning trip that took place before the tour began. Overall, the royals received £86 million from the Sovereign Grant. Of that, £4.5 million went to travel, including the Caribbean tour and the November trip Prince Charles made to Barbados when the country became a republic, which cost £138,000. The cost also included a 179 helicopter flights by members of the royal family and 24 additional charter flights.

At an event honoring a new national monument for Windrush Day, William observed that the tour had one very valuable benefit. “Our trip was an opportunity to reflect and we learned so much,” he said. “Not just about the different issues that matter most to the people of the region, but also about how the past weighs heavily on the present.”

In an interview with the Mirror published on June 21, royal expert Ingrid Seward explained that William was privately frustrated by the trip’s failure to account for the mood on the ground before they arrived. “He wants things to run smoothly and when he and Kate were ridiculed during their Caribbean tour last March, he was understandably furious,” she told the outlet. “As far as he was concerned, someone should have read the current mood of the country and acted upon it long before the schedule was arranged.”

This week, royal aides also revealed that Charles directed the Voyager and other vessels to use more sustainable fuel sources, according to the Press Association. “The prince has personally driven the move to the use of sustainable aviation fuel, which is now used for all official travel wherever possible,” Sir Clive Alderton, the prince’s principal private secretary, told the news agency.

The annual financial report comes as a cost of living crisis makes headlines in the U.K., after two years where the royal coffers were affected by COVID-related shutdowns. Despite that, the monarchy will not face a cut in the Sovereign Grant tied to this year’s shortfall.

In a statement, Sir Michael Stevens, keeper of the privy purse, pointed out that the budgetary outlook for the next few years means the family might need to tighten its belt. “Looking ahead, with the Sovereign Grant likely to be flat in the next couple of years, inflationary pressures on operating costs and our ability to grow supplementary income likely to be constrained in the short term,” he said, “we will continue to deliver against our plans and manage these impacts through our own efforts and efficiencies.”

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