I read this article on Canada’s National Post about the projected budget (not the total actual cost, just the projected cost) for Prince William and Kate Middleton‘s 2016 Canada Tour, and as it was listing the amount of money budgeted for various things I had a thought that I’ve actually never had before: How much does it cost the charity or organization to host the royals’ engagements? I want to make clear that my question is directed at all royal engagements, not just those made by William and Kate.
Here is the National Post article – I’ve edited a bit for space.
“The federal Department of Canadian Heritage projected it would spend $855,000 to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to B.C. and the Yukon earlier this fall, records show. A budget breakdown shows money was set aside for a staff ‘reconnaissance visit’ and ‘dry-run visit,’ hotel accommodations, motorcade vehicle rentals, the hiring of an official photographer and bouquets of flowers. […]
“Ottawa researcher Ken Rubin obtained a detailed breakdown of the budget forecast through an access-to-information request. Final costs may not be known for several months, a Canadian Heritage spokesman said Monday. ‘Final costs for the Department of Canadian Heritage’s portion of the tour will not be known until all the final accounting and paperwork is complete, which can take up to six months,’ Tim Warmington said in an email.
“The records show projected costs only for Canadian Heritage and do not include costs incurred by other departments, such as the RCMP for security. The police agency said Monday it could not provide the figures by press deadline.
“Prior to the official visit, Canadian Heritage budgeted $39,000 for a ‘reconnaissance visit’ July 3-10 and $116,300 for a ‘dry-run visit’ July 31-Aug. 8 involving several staff members. Another $40,000 was set aside for accommodations for 16 staff members during the actual visit. The department budgeted $20,000 for a reception at Telus Gardens in Vancouver recognizing the achievements of young leaders and $10,000 for a tour of the reopened Kitsilano Coast Guard station. Other projected costs included $40,000 for the royal family’s accommodations, $1,600 for baggage handling and parking, $5,000 for motorcade rental vehicles, $40,000 for translation services and $10,000 for flowers and refreshments. To document the event, the department set aside $4,000 for its in-house photographer and videographer, $20,000 for an official photographer and $5,000 for a photo album.
“At the end of the royal tour, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s official gift: $100,000 to non-profit groups helping indigenous youth and new immigrants. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada are to share the cost. The records show that $500 was budgeted for a personal gift from the prime minister. According to his spokeswoman, Trudeau gave the couple a candelabra, titled ‘Second life (Deuxième vie)’, handmade by wood turner Denis H. Gauthier from Aylmer, Que. The records also show that Ottawa expected to recover about $30,000 from a cost-sharing agreement with B.C. and the Yukon.”
I’ve always known that events like galas cost money but I’ve never thought about the cost of a normal, run-of-the-mill royal visit – like Kate’s recent visit to The Nelson Trust Women’s Centre, or Harry’s visits in Nottingham, and others. How much does it cost these various charities and organizations to host a royal for an hour? How much of a disruption is it to their organization? And most importantly, how much does a royal visit truly benefit them?
Several of you have asked me what is the real-world benefit to the places Kate visits, and I honestly cannot tell you since I don’t have access to their accounts and statistics. But it’s not just Kate or William, I’m wondering what real-world benefit any of the royals bring versus the costs of hosting them. How much does it cost to host Queen Elizabeth versus how much does her visit benefit whatever organization she visited? What about Crown Princess Victoria, Harry, or Sophie? People we tend to like and have a positive bias for should be held to the same questions we put up for William and Kate.
We complain that Kate’s fashion overshadows the charity or organization she’s visited – and whether that’s the media’s fault, Kate’s fault, or KP’s fault is not relevant – but for better or worse the charity or organization is at least named once in the articles written about Kate’s visit. What about the charities and organizations the royals who get no press attention visit? How much does it cost them to host the royal and how much do they get back from the visit? Do they receive any financial gain from royal visits or are they just “good will” visits? Clearly these places still think hosting the royals is a benefit to them or else they wouldn’t keep doing it, right?
I have no answers here; just questions.
I’ve been accused of being too hard on Harry in the past, but the reason I keep bringing him up is because I know people like him and defend him and his actions which is why I think it’s a good foil when discussing things like this with regard to William and Kate (because Harry can do the same thing William and Kate do and not get called on it). People have already said that the 2016 Canada tour was a waste of money since it cost so much yet there was not much to show for it. What did it yield truly? Trudeau released the statement that Canada would donate $100,000 to the First Nations people William and Kate visited, but wouldn’t it have been more beneficial for Canada to take the money they spent on William and Kate and spend it on the First Nations people instead? Budget that $855,000 for the First Nations people instead of for William and Kate. So my question is: How much will Harry’s tour of the Caribbean cost and how much will it yield? What will be the real-world benefits of the tour? And would the money spent on Harry’s tour have been better spent on the people of the nations he’s going to visit? Will people have the same questions about Harry’s tour that they had about William and Kate’s?