Inside a royal visit abroad, from who plans where they go, BYOB and sight-seeing

As well as making sure that the visits run on time and are safe, there are also a number of other secrets that go into ensuring they are deemed a success. Royal visits are an essential part of being a working member of the Royal Family – although all may not be as it seems. Here, delves into just what goes on behind the scenes of each and every royal visit, following King Charles and Queen Camilla’s brief visit to Northern Ireland.

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Royal tours are logistical nightmares

According to Canadian Government spokesperson – who helped to coordinate the then-Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s trip to Canada in 2016 – spoke on how much of logistical nightmare royal tours are.

They said: Ensuring all the engagements run smoothly, are on time, safe, and successful. Needless to say the logistics and operational details are considerable.”

Just like the everyday diaries of the working royals, royal tours hold specifics – down to every little detail such as timings – that need to be followed.

The Government has the last say on royal trips

Often the royals have little say in where they go abroad, as the Government requests where trips are undertaken.

The Prime Minister may suggest a visit to a country where diplomatic ties are strained, or to help smooth over political matters and cosy up to a nation.

This is why King Charles and Camilla’s first trip abroad since ascending the throne was to Germany – and France before it was called off due to domestic protests – as the Government thought it vital the UK strengthened its ties with Europe in the wake of Brexit.

In 1965, Princess Margaret embarked on a three-week trip to the United States. The visit was at the “specific request of Her Majesty’s Government”, according to the Foreign Minister, Walter Padley.

At that time, the relationship between the United States and Britain was tense.

The United Kingdom had an £800 million deficit on payments in 1964. In order to get a loan from the International Monetary Fund, the US had to approve it.

High-level security

One rule for royal visits is that they never fly without their team of top-notch and watertight security.

Despite this, a large entourage is not necessary. In 2011 – during their tour to Los Angeles – Kate and William travelled with a 7-person entourage.

In 2016, the couple – who travelled with a then-three-year-old Prince George and 16-month-old Princess Charlotte – took 12 people along to support them in Canada.

No time for sight-seeing

Royal tours typically never last for more than two weeks – and reportedly hold no time for any leisurely sight-seeing.

According to royal expert Marcia Moody, royals “don’t really get much free time to themselves” on visits.

Gordon Rayner, a royal tour veteran reporter, told the Telegraph: “Touring the world meeting heads of state and being shown cultural treasures sounds like a wonderful life.

“Yet I have no envy for the Royal Family. Their visits to world-famous sites rarely last more than 40 minutes.”

The royals bring their own drinks

Royals follow many orders of protocol, with one member of The Firm stating that they bring their own alcohol with them when they travel.

Telegraph reporter Gordon Rayner previously told “They sometimes take their own alcohol so there’s no danger of their drinks being spiked.”

He added that the then-Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla typically took their own drinks.

He said: “Their police bodyguard will discreetly carry a bag of their drinks — gin and tonic for him and red wine for her.”

Luggage is colour-coded

Royal aides ensure that the tours are as organised as possible – with a colour-coding system, specific to each royal.

They use color-coded luggage tag system – with late Queen often getting a big yellow tag labelled “The Queen”.

The Princess of Wales would sometimes also get yellow, with William and the now-King typically donning red tags.

Princess Anne is known for green, and the children aren’t missed out – with Prince George getting blue.

Royal tours aren’t cheap

Since the global pandemic took hold in 2020, royal tours are only just beginning to resume – and they are not cheap.

The total official travel bill for the monarchy, met by the taxpayer, was £5.3 million in 2019/2020 – up 15 percent or £700,000 from £4.6 million in 2018/2019.

This reduced slightly to £4.5million in 2021-2022, but fewer trips took place due to Covid restrictions.

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