Prince Andrew uses tax payers money to pay for luxury travel

Prince Andrew commandeered a private helicopter for a day of official engagements that started just 21 miles from his home – at a cost of up to £5,000.

What’s more, the prince – dubbed Air Miles Andy for his love of luxury travel – also used a chauffeur-driven car which took him to a nearby airfield … to fly 54 miles back to his Windsor mansion.

The Queen’s son, who does not receive any official government funding but does have the cost of his official travel met by taxpayers, kicked off his Thursday with breakfast at Royal Lodge, a stone’s throw from Windsor Castle.

He then flew in the executive helicopter to officially open the British and Ireland headquarters of pharmaceutical giant Bayer in Reading.

Prince Andrew arrives at The Royal cinque Ports Golf Club in Deal in a private helicopter

Reading is only 21 miles from Windsor and by road the journey would have taken 32 minutes. It is thought that a chauffeur-driven car was waiting at the airfield to transfer him from the helicopter to the Bayer building and back to the aircraft afterwards.

Andrew, 58, who gave up his formal role as a global trade ambassador in 2011 after a string of scandals, was then flown to Didcot in Oxfordshire – a mere 19 miles, or 35-minute drive, away – where he visited The New Space Showcase at the Harwell Campus Space Cluster, which acts as a gateway to the UK space sector.

Meanwhile, a chauffeur was waiting for him at Didcot to drive him to his next engagement at technology firm Williams Advanced Engineering in nearby Wantage – an eight-mile, 21-minute journey by road. The prince presented the firm with The Queen’s Award for Enterprise Innovation.

Afterwards, the same car took him to his final engagement of the day, a visit in his role as founder of the Pitch@Palace initiative – which aims to support entrepreneurs’ business ideas – to the Peking University Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation Business School in Wootton, 25 miles or 40 minutes away.

It is believed that Andrew was then chauffeured the final 19 miles to Abingdon Airfield where his helicopter was waiting for him in to fly the remaining 54 miles home to Windsor – which would be just an hour by road. While the Duke of York’s engagements – designed around the theme of the science, technology and engineering sector in the UK – were clearly worthwhile, some questioned whether the use of both a chauffeur-driven car and a helicopter for a 146-mile round trip can be justified.

Although Buckingham Palace will not discuss the cost of the trip, similar journeys by helicopter would cost between £3,000 and £5,000.

Duncan Simpson, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘There is a balance to be struck between convenience and excess and on this occasion, the Duke of York has failed to recognise that distinction.’ Earlier this week, Andrew’s younger brother, Prince Edward, found himself dubbed Air Miles Eddie for hiring a private executive jet to travel between engagements in Tamworth, Staffordshire, and Poole in Dorset at a cost to taxpayers of up to £10,000.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘The Duke of York undertook a busy full programme of engagements across four locations. Royal Travel make decisions on a number of factors, including effective use of time, security and minimising the impact on others, with the day’s travel ensuring the Duke’s full schedule could be delivered.’