When The Royal Family Travels It Costs UK Taxpayers Way More Than You Realize

As one of Mel Brooks' many characters said in a segment in his classic historical spoof, "The History of the World: Part 1," "It's good to be the king!" We'll leave it up to debate whether being a member of the British royal family is, in the main, a good thing. After all, they deal with immense pressure and have little real say over their lives, particularly if they're likely to some day sit on the throne.

On the other hand, the family is fabulously wealthy, and has access to all of the finest things: fancy cars, various palaces and castles, the finest food in England prepared by the best chefs, and so on.

And when the royals travel, they do so in carriages, cars, planes, and train cars — fancy as all get-out — with most of it paid for on the British taxpayers. The final tally of those expenses can be eye-opening.

Private Wealth vs. The Sovereign Grant

Before parsing how much the British taxpayers spend on royal family travel, it's worth taking a look at the distinction between the Mountbatten-Windsors' familial wealth and the portion of the U.K. budget that funds royal activities.

The Sovereign Grant, as it's called, is effectively the budget allocation made by the country's government that funds the monarchy. As BBC News explains, the budget for the Sovereign Grant for 2021-2022 was £86.3 million (about $97.24 million). This fund does not include security costs, but it does, according to Insider, cover their travel costs. In recent years, much of that money has been spent on the upkeep of royal properties.

The Mountbatten-Windsors' familial wealth comes from a variety of sources, mostly in the form of land holdings known as duchies, and the owner of each duchy is dependent on who holds which position in succession to the throne. For example, the monarch himself (or herself) owns the Duchy of Lancaster, effectively a real estate portfolio that brings in approximately £20 million ($22.5 million), and other royals own duchies of similar worth. The Duke of Cornwall (which is to say, whomever is first in line to the throne after the monarch, in this case Prince William), for example, owns the Duchy of Cornwall.

Approximately $6 Million Per Year On Royal Travel

In September 2022, GoBankingRates parsed the data from 2017, provided by the royal family itself, to look at how much was spent on royal travel that year and how it was spent. And in the final analysis, royal travel cost the British taxpayers about $6 million that year.

In one trip, Prince William and his wife went to India and Bhutan, with much of the bill going towards the cost of air travel, including on private jets. The trip costs the taxpayers $129,187. Another trip, in which Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip went to Northern Ireland (by helicopter), the bill came in at $31,912. The family's most-expensive trip appears to have been to the Caribbean, wherein William and Kate went to Belize, Jamaica, and Bahamas, with the bill coming in at $274,000.

Meanwhile, British Heritage took a look at the family's travel trends, and determined that, in 2017 alone, members of the family made 2,300 engagements.