Saturday, 24 Oct 2020

Meghan Markle and Harry ‘beneficial to Britain’ – taxpayer funds spent on them ‘worth it’

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Meghan Markle, 39, Prince Harry, 36, and their son Archie Harrison, one, travelled to Southern Africa last autumn and completed their first and last official tour as a family. An annual report of royal funding showed the Sussexes’s journey cost £245,643 making it the most costly royal trip taken in the 12 months ending March 31.

Given that Meghan and Harry decided to quit as senior royals months after the costly trip, some critics have called for them to pay the money back.

Furious royal fans lashed out on social media after in reaction to the costs.

One Twitter user wrote: “Happy to waste taxpayers cash!”

Another hit out: “It’s very easy to spend, spend, spend when its not your own money…..”

A third fumed: “H&M knew then that there was going to be the ‘Megxit’ so they should be made to pay it back.”

However, one royal commentator has defended the funds spent on the couple and claimed it was “mutually beneficial both to Britain and the host country.”

Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told Express.co.uk: “The headlined £245,000 that taxpayers spent on Harry and Meghan’s official ten-day tour of Southern Africa gave the impression that this is an area where spending is wasteful.

“In fact, the use of members of a royal family as high profile as ours for this purpose is almost invariably mutually beneficial both to Britain and the host country.”

The expert added: “The planning of royal tours, which are exercises in mutual goodwill, which are often only news if there is a glitch which is rare, is labyrinthine.”

While Mr Fitzwilliams claimed Meghan and Harry’s tour was somewhat soured by their announcement about taking legal action against the Mail on Sunday, he dubbed the trip “a triumph.”

The expert said: “In the case of the Sussexes it was their decision to plunge the tour into controversy by Meghan’s choosing to launch a privacy lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday on its last day that was without precedent and grossly irresponsible.

“The tour had, up to then, been a triumph and appeared to prove that the Sussexes had so much to give as senior working members of the royal family.”

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According to Mr Fitzwilliams, Meghan and Harry attracted a new audience to the Royal Family and had “unique appeal.”

He said: “This had seemed so hopeful for their links to the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust which they have retained.

“Their appeal in the Commonwealth seemed unique.

“This began the road to January when they stepped down in traumatic circumstances.”

Mr Fitwilliams added: “Nonetheless the royal finances, overshadowed by an anticipated shortfall of £35 million owing to COVID-19, tend to be reported in a negative way with excesses or controversies being highlighted.”

Last year’s royal finances were published by the Royal household on Friday in the annual Sovereign Grant Report.

Commenting more generally about royal finances, Mr Fitzwilliams claimed the British public got “a bargain.”

He said: “The long-overdue refurbishment of Buckingham Palace over 10 years is essential for the world’s best-known royal palace.

“The public gets a bargain from the Prince of Wales receiving his income from the Duchy of Cornwall.

“According to a royal source, The Prince’s Trust will shortly have helped one million young people which is a truly remarkable achievement.

“The royal family had a traumatic year in 2019 but, particularly with the Queen’s two broadcasts to the nation and the way royal appearances have been handled, have been so valuable for national morale during this unprecedented crisis.”

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