Flight costs for royal protection officers soared by more than £1million after Meghan Markle and Prince Harry got married, figures show.
The budget on air travel for bodyguards protecting the Royal Family rose from £3.47million in 2016-17, to £4.62million in 2018-19.
The cost of hotel stays has also increased from £1.12 million in 2016-17 to more than £2 million in 2017-18, amid fears from senior officers that the security bill is ‘spiralling out of control.’
The taxpayer funded budget for Met Police protection officers is expected to rise even further when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who married in May 2018, split their time between North America and the UK.
Documents seen by The Times show Scotland Yard is already struggling to train enough specialist officers to cope with increasing demands to provide security for the royal family.
A statement on the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s website said they are classified as ‘internationally protected people’ which means they must have an armed security detail anywhere on the globe.
During their recent six week stay in Canada, where they took a break from royal duties before announcing they were to ‘step back’ as senior royals, ten officers were deployed in total because replacements had to be flown out.
Meghan’s team including a personal protection officer accompany her in London. Security costs the taxpayer in excess of an estimated £100 million a year for the royal family
Meghan is whisked away by a police protection officer during a visit to Fiji in October 2018
During Harry and Meghan’s South Africa trip a fleet of armoured Land Rover Discovery’s was shipped out for the official visit because vehicles that met their requirements could not be found locally
The secretive Royalty and VIP Executive Committee, a Home Office body that decides who should receive armed police protection, recommended a 20 per cent rise in the number of Met bodyguards in 2017.
The Times reports that a report written last year reveals that the Met has a ‘reliance on overtime’ to fulfill the number of recommended officers from 449 to 540.
The anti-monarchy group Republic estimates the cost of royal security to the taxpayer at £106 million per year.
Harry, Meghan and Archie each have one officer and are understood to have a team of six protecting the family in any 24-hour period.
Prince Harry surrounded by his Canadian security detail during a visit to the country in 2017
Royal protection officers drive through Windsor last week. The Met says it is struggling to fulfill demand for protection officers
The Queen on Monday agreed to allow Harry and Meghan to split their time between Canada and the UK with their son Archie while an agreement was made on their future
After the unprecedented Sandringham summit on Monday, the Queen gave her backing to Harry and Meghan’s new ‘independent life’ away from full-time royal duties and said they will begin a transition period living in the UK and Canada.
But the move has raised questions over the costs of the couple’s security during their time in North America and who would foot the bill.
A former Scotland Yard chief told The Times that the budget could spiral out of control adding that the couple ‘have not thought out the security implications of their move and have put the Met in an impossible situation.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has said there is still ‘much to discuss’ over the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s move to North America and who would pick up the bill for security.
Mr Trudeau said: ‘That is part of the reflection that needs to be had and there are discussions going on.
‘We’re not entirely sure what the final decisions will be, what the dispositions are and those are decisions for them.
The Duke and Duchess posted a brand new web page which detailed all of the changes which would now take place – but they admit that because of their royal titles they will require taxpayer-funded protection wherever they live
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has said there is still much to discuss over the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s move to his country after the Queen sanctioned the couple’s move
Armed police officers patrol Windsor ahead of the wedding of Harry and Meghan on May 19, 2018
‘I think most Canadians are very supportive of having royals be here, but how that looks and what kind of costs are involved, there are still lots of discussions to have.’
He said the federal Canadian government had not been involved ‘up until this point’ about what the couple’s move to the country will involve.
‘There are still a lot of decisions to be taken by the royal family, by the Sussexes themselves, as to what level of engagement they choose to have,’ Mr Trudeau said.
‘We are obviously supportive of their reflections but have responsibilities in that as well.’
The decision came as finance minister Bill Morneau said the Canadian government has not yet discussed if it would help cover the security costs associated with Harry and Meghan living in Canada.
The Queen said on Monday that she’d held ‘very constructive’ talks with Harry, his brother Prince William and their father Prince Charles in a bid to chart a course through the fallout of the bombshell announcement.
Their effective resignation last week followed a year filled with rumors of infighting between the brothers and reports of Meghan feeling unwelcome in the highly traditional and structured royal family.
‘My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family,’ the 93-year-old monarch said in a statement after the first day of meetings at her Sandringham estate in eastern England.
Harry and Meghan said they wanted to ‘carve out a progressive new role within this institution’.
‘Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the royal family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family,’ the queen said.
The monarch stressed the couple told her ‘they do not want to be reliant on public funds’ but did not address the issue of whether they would keep their royal titles.
Harry and Meghan are formally known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Five percent of their income is from public funds.
The rest comes from Prince Charles’ Duchy of Cornwall, a hereditary private estate dating back to 1337, which funds the public, charitable and private activities of his family.
‘It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK,’ said the queen, stressing that there were still ‘complex matter’ left to resolve.
‘I have asked for final decisions to be reached within days,’ she said.