Iain Dale 4pm - 7pm
All aboard the gravy train!
30 June 2018, 20:47 | Updated: 30 June 2018, 21:02
Their royal highnesses Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall took a modest government plane on a two-week holiday last year.
When I say holiday, I do of course mean that they were on official business that entailed being entertained, wined and dined and had their every conceivable need and whim catered for.
It might seem like a holiday to us but that is because we do not see the very hard work they do while they are on such sojourns, to wit: smiling, shaking hands and engaging in chit-chat.
They took a lavishly converted Airbus A330, a plane that is so large you could race horses in it, and the cost to us poor dopes who pay taxes was a princely £362,149.
It was the most expensive trip taken by a member of the Royal Family last year but that does not mean the others were what you might call economical.
The usual royal hem sniffers were sent out to explain that this expense was right and proper and the future king could not possibly be seen arriving in the third world on anything as low grade as First Class on an ordinary plane.
Imagine the embarrassment!
They further insist that the Royal Family understand how the finances of the nation are suffering, as when William and Kate went to India and Bhutan the previous year, they flew by a lowly commercial airline at a cost of only £35,372, after which they had their people hire a private jet to travel between the two countries for just £62,331, totalling about £100,000.
See? It can be done on a budget! Only a £100,000 charge to the public for the flights for a brief trip to the sun.
Truly the Windsors understand the constrained finances of Austerity Britain.
It is a good job they do, as while Charles and Camilla were working their socks off in Brunei, his brother Prince Edward and his wife Sophie went there to, by scheduled airline, at a cost of £21,534.
They couldn't have gone on the same empty plane, from the same country to the same destination?
I suppose we should be grateful that they only cost us 21 grand.
Still, that does seem a lot for two people to go to a place that is not in outer space.
Palace apologists claim that the royals do not chose where to go on official overseas tours, they are requested to go by the Foreign Office, by a mode of transport chosen by the Royal Travel Office.
And that may be true, but would you be entirely surprised if the Palace called up the Foreign Office and said: Charles would like to go to meet his billionaire friends in Brunei and he'd like to go by a really big plane so he doesn't lose face in such rich company and would you be so kind as to officially ask him to go so that he doesn't have to pay for any of it?
I mean, they don't call up and send him off to somewhere he doesn't want to go, like he's a child going to boarding school.
Those plane trips aren't the half of it, though.
There's the royal train.
If ever there was a train that takes the strain out of travel, it's this one.
It costs us £20,000 every time Charles gets on board. He did that seven times last year. One hundred and forty thousand pounds for seven trips to the countryside.
It runs on rails - he could have got any other train that runs on those rails and paid for the whole of first class so he didn't have to slum it with the proles and he would still have easily saved a hundred grand, but what does he care?
He isn't paying for it. Us poor dopes who pay taxes are doing that.
We are like a one arm bandit that pays out every time a Windsor walks by.
The authorities say the bill for the royals just getting about the place was £4.7m last year. That is probably just a top line figure and doesn't include preparations for their majesties' arrivals and departures, policing, the plumping of royal cushions and all the rest of it.
When the royal travel expenses figures are released every year, their staff then have to furrow their brows and try to sell this as value for money to a public that has had its operation cancelled by the NHS for lack of money.
Security concerns are always a winner.
Nothing to do with us, they say...government security advice..couldn't take an ordinary plane...much too risky for their majesties.
If that doesn't wash, they pull out the “it's for your own good” excuse: well, of course his royal highness must arrive on the most wildly extravagant mode of transport...sends out the right message while we're after trade agreements, you see?
If they are really pushed into a corner, they will produce their trump card which is to take a low estimate of the cost of the royal family, ignoring the bulk of the expenditure which is on things like security and the tarting up of places they visit, and say how much it costs us individually.
Instead of conjuring excuses, I would have thought it would be appropriate for the family of the head of state of a country that can't afford to investigate crimes or fund the health service to be seen to be doing their bit by reigning it in, but I suppose that's traitor talk
It's not like they can't afford to pay their own way.
The Prince of Wales income from the Duchy of Cornwall rose by 4.9 per cent to £21.7million last year, and he also got £1.2million from the Sovereign Grant from the Government.
He paid £4.8million in tax, which he does voluntarily,
Wouldn't that be nice, to be able to pay whatever amount of tax you want on a purely voluntary basis?
Charles' mother isn't short of a bob or two either.
If he thinks times are tight on only £30m a year – he could ask for a loan from the bank of mum and dad.
The Queen’s income also rose last year, as you would expect. It went up to £45.7million, and next year it will be £82m.
Right on cue, a spokesman tasked with placating any sceptical members of the public said the cost of the royals broke down to 69p per man, woman and child in the UK.
You know someone is trying to hide an unpalatable truth when they break a number down into 66 millionths.