Belfast Telegraph

PM has to take costly charter flight after royals use RAF plane

By Sam Lister

Theresa May was forced to take a costly charter flight on her Middle East tour after the Prince of Wales took the official Government plane for a trip around Europe.

The Prime Minister has landed back in London after three days of discussions about trade and security issues.

But taxpayers will be left with a bigger bill after the RAF Voyager A330 was secured by Charles.

A Clarence House spokesman stressed that the nine-day official royal visit was booked in advance of Mrs May's trip to the Middle East.

The Prince's entourage includes his personal doctor, an artist to capture scenic vistas, and a hairdresser for the Duchess of Cornwall.

Charles and Camilla were also joined on the RAF jet by senior members of their household, embassy officials from the countries visited, Government ministers, British Press and RAF ground crew.

But many seats on the Voyager have been left empty during the tour, which included stops in Romania and Italy.

Mrs May has spent three days visiting Jordan and Saudi Arabia on the Boeing 757.

It is understood the Queen takes precedence in the use of the plane followed by Charles, the Prime Minister and then Government ministers.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "Two visits at the same time means one aircraft will always have to be chartered.

"It makes no difference to the public purse whether Voyager is used by a member of the Royal Family or the Prime Minister."

On the last day of their European tour yesterday, Charles and Camilla met Holocaust survivors in Austria.

The Prince spoke movingly about the role his grandmother played in saving the lives of a Jewish family.

Touring Vienna's Jewish Museum, the royal couple sat down with a group of very elderly men and women who shared their harrowing stories with them.

During the Second World War, Princess Alice, the Duke of Edinburgh's mother and Charles' grandmother, sheltered a number of Jewish people when Greece was occupied.

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