Prince Charles took more than 20 private flights within the UK ‘to avoid being stuck in traffic’

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The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall getting off a plane after a flight to Canada. The Prince took more than 20 private flights within the UK last year - Paul Chiasson/AFP via Getty Images
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall getting off a plane after a flight to Canada. The Prince took more than 20 private flights within the UK last year - Paul Chiasson/AFP via Getty Images

The Prince of Wales took more than 20 private flights, including several helicopters, within the UK last year in order to avoid being stuck in traffic, it has emerged.

The heir to the throne is said to be “allergic” to travelling by helicopter, one of the most polluting modes of travel.

However, the annual Sovereign Grant report revealed that he took several flights during the last financial year, including hopping between engagements in Northern Ireland and Wales and a 70-mile trip from London to RAF Brize Norton, in order to catch a charter flight to Jordan.

The Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall also appear to have flown separately to Wales by helicopter from their respective homes, Highgrove in Gloucestershire and Ray Mill in Wiltshire.

The couple took more than 15 charter flights, including to and from Belfast, and multiple journeys from residence to residence - including Glasgow to Northolt last July and Northolt to Marham to Aberdeen in December.

It comes as the Duchy of Cornwall, the Prince’s landed estate, outlined its ambition to reach net zero carbon by the early 2030s.

'Tricky' to balance the Prince's responsibilities

A senior royal source admitted there was “a conflict” in being an environmental champion, as well as someone with state responsibilities to travel. “That is tricky,” the source acknowledged.

“You only get to use the helicopter if every other option has failed. But there are just some days where you've got to be in place A at this time and place B at that time.

“And as we all know, driving around the country in our cars, you hit traffic.”

The Prince of Wales during a garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on Wednesday - PA
The Prince of Wales during a garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on Wednesday - PA

The report revealed that the Queen had become one of the first in the UK to win approval for the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), while the Royal train is now powered exclusively by hydro-treated vegetable oil - a biofuel derived from waste products.

Wherever possible, the RAF Voyager also uses SAF, an additional cost that is picked up by the taxpayer.

A royal source said: “The RAF have been brilliant partners … the Royal family wants to show a lead here, the Prince of Wales wants to show a lead.”

The cost of running the Prince’s London office and Clarence House residence came to £107,000, while his official travel by air and rail was £892,000.

The Prince and Duchess’ travel costs rose by £640,000 from the previous year, as overseas royal tours resumed with the easing of Covid restrictions.

Overall, the monarchy’s taxpayer-funded spending came to £102.4 million during 2021/22 – an increase of £14.9 million, or 17 per cent on the previous financial year.

However, a royal source insisted that the family was “extremely conscious” of the cost-of-living crisis affecting the nation, with Prince Charles paying very close attention to the matter.

Almost 90 per cent of the household’s energy came from renewable sources, with just under half generated on site by solar panels, biomass heaters and heat pumps.

Prince Charles 'pretty allergic' to helicopter travel

The source insisted that the Prince of Wales was working to reconcile the conflict between his responsibilities travelling around the world and his decades-long campaign against climate change.

The Prince is “pretty allergic” to travelling by helicopter and will always “raise an eyebrow” and object when the mode of transport is suggested, they said.

“There is this rigorous process that you only get to top-end travel options if every other option fails,” the source added.

“If the recommendation goes to the Prince of Wales, he will raise an eyebrow and say: ‘Go through this again.’"

Some 179 official helicopter journeys, costing less than £15,000 each, were made by the Royal family in 2021-22 at a cost of more than £906,000.

The total travel bill for the monarchy’s official duties, funded by the taxpayer through the Sovereign Grant, came to £4.5 million in 2021-22.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s flights for their controversial Caribbean tour cost the taxpayer more than £226,000, accounts showed.

The March visit to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas, during which the couple were heavily criticised for images that smacked of “colonialism”, saw the pair travel by charter jet - and their staff by scheduled flights for a planning trip - at a cost of £226,383.

It was the most expensive official royal tour of 2021-22.

The Prince of Wales’ charter flight to Barbados to mark the country’s transition to a republic, as well as his staff’s scheduled air travel for the event, came to more than £138,000.

The Queen’s trip to Scotland on the Royal Train for Royal Week in June 2021 cost more than £46,400, while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s charter flight and helicopter journey for a visit to Scotland in May 2021 amounted to almost £45,200.

Cost of the monarchy

Overall, the monarchy’s taxpayer-funded spending came to £102.4 million during 2021-22 – an increase of £14.9 million, or 17 per cent, on the previous financial year.

However, a royal source insisted that the family was “extremely conscious” of the cost of living crisis affecting the nation, with the Prince of Wales paying very close attention to the matter.

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