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Image / Editorial

The unexpected rules of royal travel


By Erin Lindsay
10th Jul 2018
The unexpected rules of royal travel

Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle will be hitting a multitude of Irish cultural spots over the next 24 hours, in what is their first overseas visit as husband and wife. The newlyweds will begin today by being greeted by Leo Varadkar, before attending a summer garden party at Glencairn, the official residence of Britain’s Ambassador to Ireland, Robin Barnett.

Tomorrow, the couple will visit Áras an Uachtaráin, before visiting Trinity College, Croke Park and EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum, before departing in the early evening. It’s speculated that Harry wants to be back in the UK for the kickoff of tomorrow night’s World Cup semi-final, where England face Croatia.

The royals could be considered as the ultimate VIPs, so it seems only fitting that they would travel in style. While the total cost of this week’s trip to Ireland is not yet known, the expense report of the royal family for 2017/18 revealed that they had spent £3 million on travel from April of last year to March of this year. The cost of Charles and Camilla’s similar trip to the emerald isle in 2017 cost £33,ooo. Not exactly a budget holiday.

Royal travel

But there are many elements of royal travel that may surprise you. For example, not every flight they take is private – the royals regularly frequent commercial flights, with British Airways being the airline of choice, as Kate Middleton’s parents both worked for the company. The Queen, however, never takes scheduled flights.

But while the family doesn’t always fly private, no expense is spared when it comes to security. A royal navy doctor and several British bodyguards accompany every royal trip, although the total sizes of entourages vary from trip to trip.

The security of the royal family is paramount, and there is even protocol that states that no two heirs to the throne can travel together. The idea being, that if something happens to one heir, another will still be safe and able to carry the family line. Despite the rule not being official, heirs must seek permission from the Queen to travel together, who has the final say on the matter. There have been times when the rule has been bent, such as when Prince George travelled with his parents on a tour of Australia and New Zealand in 2014. But on the couple’s trip to New York in the same year, George stayed in the UK with his grandparents.

With all this protocol just to get on the plane, it’s hard to imagine the royals getting held up at passport control on the other side. But, like all UK citizens, the royal family have to go through immigration in every country they visit, and they are required to have passports like the rest of us. The only person who doesn’t is the Queen because UK passports are issued under Her Majesty’s name. But she still has to go through an identity check, which confirms her name, address, nationality, birthplace and gender.

And we thought the stress of our Ryanair long weekends were bad…