Belfast Telegraph

£70k travel bill for two royal visits to Northern Ireland

By Adrian Rutherford

Travel costs for two high-profile royal visits to Northern Ireland totalled almost £70,000, it has emerged.

Nearly half the expenditure went towards a charter flight for the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

The couple spent three days here in May 2016, which included a visit to the Orange heritage museum in Loughgall and a church in Portaferry.

Flights for a two-day tour here by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh the following month cost a further £24,000.

The details were disclosed in annual accounts released by the Royal Household.

The cost of Clarence House's official travel by air and rail rose by just over 40% - jumping £267,000 from £658,000 to £925,000.

Charles and Camilla's Northern Ireland visit took place from May 23-25 last year.

Charter flights from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire to Belfast and Londonderry cost £34,388.

A Sikorsky S-76 helicopter ferried Charles and Camilla around Northern Ireland, adding £8,572 to the bill. The royal couple also visited the Republic, making a whistle-stop trip to Donegal.

Charles uses income from his hereditary estate the Duchy of Cornwall to pay for his official duties, his London office and charitable work. This income rose by 1.2% to £20.7m last year.

The Prince also receives taxpayer funding from the Sovereign Grant, which pays for costs such as royal household salaries, official travel and the upkeep of royal palaces. This rose by almost 39% to £1.34m in 2016/17.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited Northern Ireland on June 27 and 28 last year. They took in the sights of the north coast, including the Giant's Causeway and Bushmills, and made a steam train journey from Coleraine to Bellarena.

A charter flight from RAF Northolt cost £21,147, with helicopter travel between Lisburn and Bushmills adding £2,992.

In total, the two visits cost £67,099.

The Queen's official net expenditure increased by £2m to almost £42m.

The Queen and royal family's official travel cost the taxpayer £4.5m in 2016/17, up £500,000.

A royal source has revealed the Queen keeps an eye on travel costs.

The Keeper of the Privy Purse, Sir Alan Reid, said more than 3,000 official engagements were undertaken across the UK and overseas by members of the royal family in the last year.

Sir Alan said it represented "excellent value for money".

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