THE Duke of York clocked up a bill of more than £350,000 while jetting around the world in his role as the UK’s roving business ambassador, Buckingham Palace accounts revealed yesterday.
• Queen’s official expenditure rises to £32.3m
• Taxpayer funds for royal travel rise by £100,000
Prince Andrew – who was nicknamed “Airmiles Andy” – stepped down from his position as the UK’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment in July last year, though in the months that followed he continued to travel in order to fulfil previously arranged commitments.
Accounts for the 2011/12 financial year showed that the Duke carried out five major tours promoting UK firms and encouraging inward investment after leaving his post.
He gave up the job following the intense scrutiny he faced over his relationships with a series of controversial figures, including a convicted paedophile.
The Duke had been dogged by accusations of a lack of judgment about his links with American billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2008 for soliciting a minor for prostitution. His biggest trip was a seven-day tour of Saudi Arabia which cost £81,000 for chartered air travel, with the total bill for all scheduled and chartered flights during 2011/12 adding up to £354,667.
The accounts also show that the most expensive royal trip during the last financial year was the Prince of Wales’s official visit to Kuwait and Qatar last autumn and then on to South Africa and Tanzania when he was joined by the Duchess of Cornwall. The cost for the chartered flights was £460,387, but it is understood it would not have been possible to complete the tour by scheduled services. Charles and Camilla’s official tour of Portugal, Spain and Morocco in April last year generated a £38,333 bill for flights.
The cost of the Queen’s historic visit to the Republic of Ireland with the Duke of Edinburgh in May last year was £47,500 for a chartered return flight from RAF Northolt in London to Dublin and Cork.
Charles’ two-day regional visit to Middlesbrough, Teesside, Redcar and Burnley by royal train last October was the most expensive trip by this mode of transport, coming in at £38,016.
William and Kate and their adviser Sir David Manning were upgraded from business to first-class seats on the scheduled British Airways flight.
Republic, the organisation which campaigns for an elected head of state, said David Cameron’s visit to Afghanistan last December cost, in comparison, just over £2,000.
Republic’s chief executive, Graham Smith, said: “It beggars belief that it costs the taxpayer more to send Charles to east London than it does to send the Prime Minister to Afghanistan.
“I think most people, monarchist and republican alike, would find that impossible to justify.”
Overall, the cost to the taxpayer of supporting the monarchy rose marginally during the last financial year, Buckingham Palace accounts showed.
The Queen’s official expenditure rose by £200,000, equivalent of 0.6 per cent from £32.1 million in 2010/11 to £32.3m in 2011/12.
Civil List funding, much of it used to pay the wages of her Royal Household staff, fell by £100,000 from £13.7m to £13.6m.
The government also provides money, known as grants-in-aid, to cover the areas of royal travel, property services and communications and information.