The travel costs for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s high-profile family tour to southern Africa cost the taxpayer nearly £246,000, new accounts show.
Harry and Meghan took their then four-month-old baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor to South Africa in September last year on his first royal overseas trip, with the duke also travelling solo to Angola, Malawi and Botswana.
The flights came to nearly a quarter of a million pounds and were the most expensive royal journey of 2019-2020, according to the royal financial records.
Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, criticised the cost as a “disgraceful abuse of public money” and said there was no justification at a time when public sector jobs were being lost and services cut.
The trip became controversial after Meghan launched legal action against a newspaper and Harry delivered a scathing attack on the tabloid press while the tour was still under way.
A senior royal source insisted the couple are under no obligation to pay money back for the trip after announcing their decision to quit as senior royals just three months later.
The source stressed it was a key visit approved by the Foreign Office and helped to highlight the work of numerous charities.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex undertook over 20 engagements, bringing attention to a number of worthwhile causes, in particular, raising awareness of the work and the legacy of the Halo Trust,” the source said.
“So, the visit, as an official visit funded by the government, fulfilled the objectives that were set out for it and so therefore there would be no requirement or obligation on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to make any payments in relation to that official visit.”
Other costly overseas trips by members of the royal family included a two-day visit by the Prince of Wales to Oman to pay his condolences following the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said, with the charter flight costing £210,345.
The source said the trip was taken at very...