Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s official tour of Southern Africa was the most expensive royal trip of the year, according to accounts published today.
The Daily Mail has reported that their well-documented trip to South Africa, Botswana, Angola and Malawi last September cost British taxpayers almost a quarter of a million pounds.
The couple brought their son Archie on the ten-day trip, which took place just four months before they announced their plans to step down as senior working members of the Royal family.
Royal accounts show £245,643 was spent on scheduled flights and a private jet for the couple and their staff – making it the most expensive royal trip of the year.
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Defending the cost of the trip, a source told the Mail: “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 [an anti-landmine charity championed by Princess Diana].”
“The visit, as an official visit funded by the Government, fulfilled the objectives that were set out for it.”
Meanwhile, Prince Charles’ visit to Oman was the second most expensive trip, costing a further £210,345.
Last year, the Prince of Wales took a private charter plane to the Middle Eastern country to pay his official respects, after the death of the king.
Prince William and Kate Middleton’s tour of Pakistan was the third most expensive trip of the year, costing £117,116.
According to the palace’s annual report, the total bill for royal travel in 2019/2020 was £5.3million, a 15.2 per cent increase on last year’s £4.6million bill.
During Meghan and Harry’s trip to Africa last year, the Duke of Sussex publicly slammed the British press for “bullying” his wife in an open letter – and revealed her plans to sue the UK Mail on Sunday for publishing a private letter she wrote to her father.
The lawsuit kicked off earlier this year, and a trial is set to take place in early 2021.
The couple also secretly filmed a documentary with ITV during their tour, which showed Meghan get emotional as she opened up about dealing with negative press.
The Duchess of Sussex admitted that “not many people” have asked if she’s okay as she spoke to ITV’s Tom Bradby.
When asked how she has dealt with the constant public scrutiny, and if it has affected her mental health, Meghan replied: “Look, any woman, especially when they’re pregnant, you’re really vulnerable and so that was made really challenging, and then when you have a newborn – you know?”
“And especially as a woman, it’s a lot. So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed it’s um…”
"Not many people have asked if I’m ok … it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes."
— ITV News (@itvnews) October 18, 2019
A visibly upset Meghan added: “Thank you for asking, because not many people have asked if I’m OK. But it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”
Tom then asked her: “And the answer is, would it be fair to say, not really OK, as in it’s really been a struggle?”
And Meghan simply replied: “Yes.”
In the documentary, Prince Harry also opened up about the pressure of living in the public eye, and how it reminds him of his mother’s death.
"Every single time I hear a click, every single time I see a flash, it takes me straight back"
Prince Harry tells ITV his grief for Diana is still a "wound that festers" and being followed by the press is the "worst reminder of her life" #HarryAndMeghan https://t.co/FEy37XVASW pic.twitter.com/0qUXeoOXWz
— ITV News (@itvnews) October 17, 2019
Princess Diana tragically died in a car accident in Paris back in 1997, and 22 years later, Harry said his grief is still a “wound that festers.”
When asked if he feels at peace yet about the death of his mother, Harry said: “I think being part of this family, in this role and this job, every single time I see a camera, every single time I hear a click, every single time I see a flash, it takes me straight back.”
“So in that respect, it’s the worst reminder of her life as opposed to the best.”
The hour-long documentary, entitled ‘Harry and Meghan: An African Journey’, aired on ITV last October.
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