The royal accounts show that Prince Andrew flew to golfing event at a cost of $20,000, while Prince Charles flight to pay respects to the late Sultan of Oman cost nearly $270,000
Prince Andrew and Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Andrew
| Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty

Queen Elizabeth’s officials have been forced to defend the expensive travel costs of the monarch's family as they flew around the world last year.

The Queen's son Prince Andrew, who has been mired in controversy over his ties with late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, took a flight to Northern Ireland to attend a golf championship in July 2019. Andrew, 60, flew to Londonderry (and back via Belfast) to attend the event at one of his patronages at a cost of around $20,000, according to new figures from the royal accounts.

Andrew, who has stepped down from his royal duties, was patron of the Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland and a past captain of the Royal and Ancient golf club.

“The arrangements in relation to the program did not enable him to travel by scheduled flight. That was taken into consideration in determining whether a charter was appropriate,” a senior royal source says.

“When we arrange travel for an official engagement, we look at all the options, including scheduled flights and charter flights and we will look at the program either side of that and we will then determine what is the most appropriate form of travel. In this case, we concluded the use of charter was the only way to get him to complete the engagement to fit in with his other programs," the source continued.

The report also reveals that Prince Charles took a charter flight to Muscat to pay his condolences following the death of the Sultan of Oman at the cost of $268,337. He was there for two days – and it was also not possible to coordinate his travel with other members of the U.K. government in attendance, an official explains.

Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales
Prince Charles
| Credit: CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty

The visit was made at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and arrangements made “at very short notice,” the senior source says. “There was no availability for commercial flights to suit the program timing and therefore we had to use a charter arrangement to ensure the Prince of Wales was able to fulfill that engagement within that very tight timeframe.”

The final royal tour of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to southern Africa last fall totaled $313,422. The figure includes the preliminary visit made by staffers to plan the tour. Officials say that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex fulfilled the tour's aims of bringing “attention to a number of worthwhile causes and in particular raising awareness of the work and the legacy of the Halo Trust” across more than 20 engagements, the senior royal source adds.

Meghan Markle Prince Harry Duke Duchess Sussex
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry

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The royal accountants also revealed that Harry and Meghan have paid a lump sum for an undisclosed number of years of rent on their U.K. residence Frogmore Cottage as well as settling their obligations following the renovations to the property.

Prince William and Kate Middleton’s tour of Pakistan, involving a charter plane and a helicopter cost $149,310.

Official royal travel costs $6.7 million, a rise of around $900,000 from the previous year. But the royal train was used only three times.