PracticeAuditPrince Andrew irons out golfing trip claims

Prince Andrew irons out golfing trip claims

The National Audit Office has cleared The Duke of York of claims that he broke official guidelines by using helicopters and RAF planes to go on golfing-related trips.

Link: Royal finances to be investigated

A special report drawn up in response to a request from Labour MP Ian Davidson, a senior member of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, revealed that Prince Andrew spent £315,000 on flight costs during 2003/04, around £150,000 of which was on travel within the UK. The remainder was on trips at the request of the Foreign Office or Department of Trade and Industry.

Much of the use of helicopters – some chartered specially for the occasion – was for security reasons or to save the Duke’s time and enable him to complete more engagements.

The report cited a journey between Windsor and Portsmouth which had been intended to be made using the Queen’s helicopter at a cost of £1,304 but had to be switched to a chartered helicopter at a cost of £3,989 when the Queen’s helicopter became unavailable. This allowed the Prince to complete the six engagements already planned for the day.

On another occasion it had been planned to use the Queen’ helicopter to fly from London to Oxford for £1,014 – £917 more than a return by train – but the cost shot up to £2,939 when a chartered helicopter had to be used instead.

Much of the UK travel was in connection with Prince Andrew’s appointment at Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, which bore a quarter of the costs of travel in connection with its 250th anniversary.

The NAO said it did not find any cases in which the mode of travel was ‘directly determined by the Duke’s sporting activities’ but did say that he used an RAF plane to attend his inauguration at the club in order to save an hour’s travel time when he did not have another engagement for another four days.

The Prince carried out all but two of his major UK and overseas journeys by RAF or chartered aircraft or helicopter, and only two by scheduled flights.

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