Royal travel is set to change – does this mean no more private jets for Harry & Meghan?

The Royal Family is renowned for being one of the most well-travelled monarchies in the world. As part of their duty, the royals jet off to foreign and commonwealth countries to represent the UK and meeting with world leaders. However, this globe-trotting is coming with rising costs coupled with a push towards more environmentally friendly travel, meaning the way the royals get around could be set to change.

After a year of negative press relating to air travel, particularly for the younger royals who were thrown into the spotlight after Harry and Meghan took a whopping four private jets in just 11 days, the new Director of Royal Travel will be tasked with keeping costs low.

A further emphasis will be put on finding carbon efficient methods of travel, such as commercial flights, after the royals’ latest accounts revealed that the family’s carbon footprint from official travel nearly doubled last year, to 3,344 tonnes of CO2.

As per the job advertisement put out by the Royal Household, the Director of Royal Travel will be in charge of purchasing “safe, efficient, cost-effective and appropriate travel services for the official duties of Member of the Royal Family and their Households.”

The candidate will earn up to £85,000 per year but will have some serious responsibilities on their shoulders.

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The job advertisement states: “As Director of Royal Travel, you will have overall responsibility for organising air travel and overseeing the operations of The Queen’s Helicopter Flight and usage of scheduled train services and the Royal Train. You will also liaise with the relevant authorities to provide advice and recommendations on travel, taking into account security, safety and environmental considerations.

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“Leading a small team in the Royal Travel office, and The Queen’s Helicopter Flight, based at RAF Odiham, you will provide logistic support to the Royal Household including support of Court moves, State Visits and the provision of the staff travel service in support of all Households and of the Royal Collection.

“You will be required to ensure planning and procedures are highly effective, researching and negotiating value for money contracts and options for travel, while understanding and recommending best industry practice in risk and safety management.”

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One of the main parts of the job role is the emphasis on value for money.

Royal Historian David Mclure reveals: “Royal travel has often been described as the Achilles heel of the Royal Family because it takes up a sizeable element of the budget.

“It’s about £5m out of a total budget of £50m.”

While the royals spent many years spanning the world in their own private jet – the Royal Plane – recent negative attention means that the family is increasingly flying commercially.

This summer William and Kate were spotted travelling on commercial airline FlyBe with their family after a holiday to Balmoral.

The Sun reported that tickets cost just £73 per head.

Meanwhile, Royal Correspondent Emily Andrews let slip that Harry and Meghan also have their own secrets ways of flying commercially.

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She said: “Harry and Meghan are two of the most famous people in the world. They went to Norway in the early stages of their relationship.

“It was Norwegian Air.

“No one on that plane knew that Harry and Meghan were on because the whole plane had boarded, they were driven to the back steps, they walked up, they had baseball caps on, snuck into the back seats of the aircraft.”

“No one even knew they were there.”

With a push towards keeping costs low, however, air travel may not be the only focus for the new Director of Royal Travel.

In fact, it’s the Royal Train that incurs the highest costs, and is also the mode of transport used the most frequently.

Costing more per mile than chartered flights, the Royal Train is estimated to cost an average of £40 a mile according to a BBC report of a September 2018 trip by the Prince of Wales.

However, its use is less about luxurious travel and more about the imperativeness of safety for the monarchy.

Captain Tim Hewlett who once stood as the Queen’s Senior Air Equerry, offered insight into the cost of security.

In an interview for the book ‘The Firm’, he told Royal Author Penny Junor: “In PR terms [train travel] look like a nice cheap option, and we can stand proudly in front of the accountants and say it cost £35 for a first-class rail ticket for the Queen, but the security costs are quite considerable and those are not part of our budget.”

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