Canadian Heritage budgeted $855,000 for William & Kate’s Canada Tour

Canadian Heritage budgeted $855,000 for William & Kate’s Canada Tour

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.”

[National Post]

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?

55 thoughts on “Canadian Heritage budgeted $855,000 for William & Kate’s Canada Tour

  1. Can anyone name a charity in the Canada tour that is supposed to benefit from the visit? Without looking it up on google? Doubt it.
    What a waste of close to one million dollars. There are First Nations areas without potable water and they need the help urgently as compared to seeing Kate and her poorly fitting designer dresses.

    1. Unfortunately the only things I remember from the visit to Canada are two fashion labels Kate chose: Zara and McQueen. I guess they could have done without the extra publicity. But I don’t remember a single charity by name. That’s why I think the royals should do more for charities by really promoting them through launching fundraisers, giving speeches etc. instead of just popping in occasionally.

    2. Actual charities? They didn’t visit many. SAILS? I think that was one that accompanied them on the Tall Ship. I can think of some places they visited but not actual charities. They only visited a handful of charities and those visits were press restricted.

      1. So obviously none of the few charities they visited gained any publicity from their visits. Can’t help wondering why they visited those at all, if the purpose wasn’t to shield light on the actual charity. Were they learning visits, and if so, why, and will we ever hear of anything the visits brought to the Royal Foundation’s charity work etc? Just wondering.

    3. I remember the charity whose Scottish counterpart was opened by Princess Diana years ago, to which William replied he didn’t know that but it was probably in his briefings that he didn’t read. So Canada pays almost $1 million for the visit, Kate spent about £100,000 on her boring clothes, and William didn’t prepare. Do republican leaning newspapers in Great Britain report on this? That seems like a pretty interesting topic.

    4. I can say I learned about the Kermode bear because of their visit. Only because I wanted a reason other than to see them so did research own my own about the Canadian rainforest.

  2. Really thought-provoking post, KMR, and it raises some more questions for me, too (you may already know the answers?):

    How does an organization become someplace that a royal visits? Does the organization request it, or is it selected by KP?

    Can a charity refuse a visit? I can’t imagine that’s a comfortable thing to do.

    1. Hi E Apparently the royal family receives hundreds of invitations from charities and organisations from all over the world which are then filtered by staff according to suitably. Then they have planning meetings in which the Royal persons diary is planned for the next 6 months.

  3. Hello first time poster here. I agree this is a thought provoking article by KMR. I also found it interesting that translation services were $40,000 but the motorcade was only $5000. I would almost expect it to be the other way around.

    1. I was think the same thing!! Only I was wondering what was being translated and why does it cost $40,000! As Canada is an English speaking country and so is England…

      1. Probably because a good translator for either French or the First Nations languages is expensive.

        1. English is the predominate language in BC. At least when I’ve been. Quebec yes, French is spoken often but not Victoria and Vancouver. The only time I heard a foreign language spoken was when I shared a table with some ladies at the market who were from Prague.
          As to the First Nations, they also speak English. I called several trying to book a spirit bear tour and they all spoke great English. Unless it was a translation of the dances?
          So it seems like an absurd amount of $$ to me

  4. An interesting post, KMR. Charles and Camilla’s 3 day visit to Northern Ireland earlier this year is reported to have cost 750,000 euros. It might have helped strengthen relations, but is still expensive. Many of the costs associated with royal visits just aren’t reported. For a domestic royal visit, local councils generally have to cover road closures, additional policing, additional staff, street cleaning, repainting perfectly good rooms and signs, flowers, refreshments, etc. The local police have to pick up the extra security costs. I was involved in a half day royal visit recently which would have cost tens of thousands of pounds, weeks of staff time to arrange and barely got noticed outside the local press. At best, good press coverage draws public attention to the cause – a local attraction will get more visits, a charity will get more interest. Whether that justifies the costs – IMO, it rarely does

    1. Absolutely agree. I can remember attending when Princess Anne opened a Save the Children shop in the tiny town in northern Scotland where I grew up. I was there with my Brownie Pack (for US readers it’s like a tiny Girl Scout) so we are talking a number of decades ago(!) but I remember half the town turning up to greet her and the roads being closed etc. There’s such a huge amount of organisation that goes into these visits – my mind boggles at the coordination required to even get us kids in attendance – and that was in the days where you could just get kids on a bus without having to be child safety security checked and triple-confirmations from parents etc. These days it must be horrendous. And it’s not just monetary costs, lots of time and effort and planning are included. Thank goodness Princess Anne is actually ‘involved’ in what she does. I mean she visited our town! I’ll fall off my chair if Kate ever went further north than Edinburgh (that wasn’t Balmoral). In some ways I’m a bit annoyed that, as future Queen, she won’t visit her own country but then to have her waft through completely ignorant and ill-prepared would annoy me more so I’m glad she stays away. Besides, on those figures we can’t afford a visit!!

  5. Interesting article and thanks for sharing, KMR!

    It’s not really a surprise that a Royal Tour costs money and I don’t expect anyone to work for free or to let the Royals and their staff stay for free but it’s always a question on how good and how reasonable the money is spend!

    If we take William and Kate as an example here, was it necessary to bring 16 staff members? Why is WK accommodation as expensive as the one of all staff? 10,000 for flowers and refreshments? 5,000 for a photo album? And if we look back at the tour the number of charities they visited was really low and also when it came to business, science, research there wasn’t anything. Neither did they promote GB in Canada in a good way…

    Like said I don’t expect it to be free but is someone having a look at costs? Is someone saying no if it is too much? And who actual makes the plan for a tour? If I remember it correctly Frederik and Mary covered nearly same amount of engagements during 4 days as WK during 8…

    1. My thought besides to wonder about the translation service was what A waste of money to spend on flowers! Especially after seeing Kate so rudely hand hers off right away at the end. I know a lot of times the flowers given are then taken o hospitals etc but still such and exorbitant waste.
      We know they didn’t do any big galas so it couldn’t have gone to decorate that.
      I was hoping for a happy Election Day post but this just bums me out =(

  6. You are only just realising this now?! The ‘they’re good for charity’ is just a line; everybody knows deep down that royals cost more than they bring in. But most people don’t care because they like having this real life soap opera to obsess over and particularly in Britain, people like to believe that it improves our standing abroad and makes other people envious that we can afford such luxury (we can’t).

    I heard Harry’s last tour of the Caribbean cost around £105,000. Royal visits to projects in Britain cost around £20,000, the local council will usually foot most of the bill. This is a disgrace when the councils are cutting social services right across the board and people are suffering because of it.

    1. Yep!!!

      FYI, the Foreign Office’s publicised accounts on royal tours always put Harry’s tours as the cheapest ones in terms of costs.

      Charles/Camilla used to be the highest, but in recent years WK have overtaken Charles’s figures.

      Knowing how extravagant Charles lives and travels at home and on tour, i’ve always thought it was amazing that WK, the ‘normal’ royals outspend him on tour. And it is amazing that this has not been picked up by the media.

      BTW, the Foreign office budget is separate to the Sovereign Grant.

      1. I see a certain point in royals visiting realms, Commonwealth countries, charities and projects. I think that the royals’ role in today’s world is to make people feel included and shield light on different issues that need to be addressed. But I believe it takes more than displaying a new, expensive wardrobe or repeating buzzwords. I’m sure it costs to have royals visiting, there are security issues to think about etc, but I’m sure we still don’t want the royals to lock themselves up in an ivory tower. So they have to bring publicity and goodwill to make up for the costs as well as really engage themselves in promoting their causes. They also have to understand that people don’t accept everything automatically any more just because something – like spending a fortune on clothes or lavish lifestyle – used to be the norm for royalty.

    2. I know I’m realising this just now. It took following the saga of WK and critical and informative discussions on blogs like this to gradually open my eyes about how irrelevant, entitled, greedy and manipulative the BRF is. Harry is no different, just more likeable. I am sure it is true for many others. This is a good thing.

    1. It’s really true!! I wouldn’t have believed it until I heard the BBC read the statement from KP that Harry himself called Meghan his Girlfriend & he’s angry about the press’ harassment & Meghan’s safety. I wonder where this relationship is going to lead to…..

      1. All I think now is Poor Kate!!!! Only two weekes of rumours about Harry and Meghan and Kate was not the star os the Royal Family anymore. Imagine now with the confirmation of Harry and Meghan relationship. The Duchess has much what to worry about.

        1. Meghan’s humanitarian work already outshines any work Kate has done. Kate is going to have to do a serious overhaul of her life in order to keep up. The media has already compared the two and I doubt they’re going to let up. Bring on Diana vs Fergie 2.0.

          1. Yes, but I think Meghan is so into her career and her limelight as an actress/humanitarian, that I wonder if she will settle down to life as a Royal and not want to keep acting. I can see her being very involved in causes near and dear to her heart, but I am feeling that she is quite an opportunist and I worry about Harry. Sorry, but I do. Just want him to be happy. Ok, maybe he is, but I wonder about her.. And, I am sincere about that.

          2. jenny, only time will tell. I sincerely hope that she is with Harry for Harry, not for his position or image. Only time will tell. In the meantime I’ll wish them both well and wish these darned bells of cynicism would stop ringing in my ears. I can’t help but wonder if she would have fallen for him if he had just been Harry Windsor regular guy and not Prince Harry.

        2. I really hope we all can not do the comparison thing between Kate and Meghan. It’s unnecessary.

          1. KMR, I’m sure you know it will be impossible to not compare them. Whomever Harry ends up with will be compared to his brother’s wife and anyone could outshine Kate in the public service realm at this point (unfortunately).

          2. If people like the woman Harry marries. If they don’t? They’ll trash her to no end to prop up Kate. It goes both ways. For now people are comparing Meghan to Kate and finding Kate wanting. But in the past people have compared Chelsy to Kate and found Chelsy wanting. People wanted Harry to marry Cressida purely for the fact that they wanted to stick it to Kate by having Isabella as a relative. But there were others comparing Cress to Kate and finding Cress wanting. There is no good outcome from comparing Kate to Harry’s wife/girlfriend.

          3. I understand why my comments may look hypocritical, but I made that comment about Kate specifically for the sake of showing how hypocritical Alice’s comment is. I think there is a difference since I was bringing up Kate to make a point other than to make one or the other look good or bad, but I understand if you don’t think there is a difference. I will take my own advice in the future and not discuss Kate when discussing Meghan, even if other comments are doing so.

      2. I had said previously that Lainey is based in Toronto and her coworker’s wife was friends with Meghan. This was true, at least that they were dating. And yet so many people still thought it was a fling.

        Now I just need to stop reading that her IG post of two bananas means she was asking for the press to act this crazy. Trying to break into her place is beyond insane.

  7. Cost is something all charities face. Raising money costs money. I remember planning a fund raiser for a small charity when someone remarked if everyone just gave $100 without all the hoopla the charity would make more. But not enough people would.

    Your excellent post illustrates that the financial question is the one which will end, or drastically change the monarchy. Eventually the mainstream press will take it up.

    Kate better keep a tight grip on her tiara, because if the Meghan-Harry relationship goes all the way to marriage, Meghan will outshine her in every way.

  8. So basically W&K had a very, very expensive vacation. Let’s take the donation of money one step further. Instead of Kate spending so much on wardrobe, why not put that money towards one of the charities and break something out of her closet that has never seen the light of day.

    It’s hard to quantify how much these tours generate in terms of money for charities, goodwill, etc. We can argue that W&K’s tours of late tend to stretch goodwill because of their demands for privacy while Harry may be building goodwill because he comes off so well. But what does that goodwill bring to the table? A country that was thinking about leaving the Commonwealth now choosing not too?

    It’s all really whitewashing of sorts. They need to be out to be seen and to let people think they are earning their keep. Some charities/organizations may reap great benefits (IG, Walking With The Wounded, I honestly can’t think of any W&K ones that do at this moment) but I think most just get to spend time and some money getting ready for a short visit that will hopefully garner them some media to bring regular people to their doors for support.

    Unless we see numbers before and after the visit of donations or support it will always be hard to justify the costs and answer the question of did it do any good.

  9. Dear Canadian government,

    Thank you for using my tax dollars to fund this vacation. I would’ve much rather you spent it back on your own citizens. We have other stuff that we could’ve used instead of watching these numb nuts enjoy the scenery.


    This annoyed Canadian citizen

    1. I don’t blame you. Truly, what good did this visit do for those who could use assistance?
      You know what I will remember from the trip? The kind woman who praised the late Diana and told Kate she’d be sending slippers that she made for Charlotte. Kate said she would be on the look out for them I hope she is looking and that they arrived and fit little Charlotte. At least, I have a warm memory of Kate’s response to the dear woman. That’s a plus. Unusual, too.

      Other than that, boring clothes, the admission that William does not read his briefings and the fact that a huge amount of money went into a trip that most people will not remember. Their wallets will, though. So many people made such efforts to welcome the Cambridges and treat them to moments that many of us would cherish. I hope this visit is remembered by them, but I wonder. They are on to their next appearances and their cherished privacy. Privacy being the most important, I guess.

    2. I’m not a Canadian but I live realativley close and love Canadians (the ad tell America it’s already great might have made me tear up on some) =) and the reason behind this visit was to promote tourism to BC. That’s what the real waste is! People go to BC all the time! Trip advisor sent out a thing about top 10 places people were go to in fall and Victoria and Vancouver were both on there.

  10. Frankly the nearly million dollars would have been better spent on the various First Nations communities that WK visited on their “watching the natives dance” tour. And I have to ask, WK get a lot of lovely gifts when they impose themselves upon countries when touring abroad…what do WK give in return? We never hear about any gifts that WK bring to their hosts, do we? I still remember how they brought a picture of a rose dedicated to the Queen of Bhutan, so not even a real rose, while the Queen gave the worthless Kate a very lovely pendant. I still remember how WK and their staff just fed cheese and cookies to the Indian expatriates in the KP reception, pre-India tour, the one where Kate wore the Saloni dress and looked like she hated every second of that reception. WK are proving themselves to be greedy, mean, selfish and stingy people. I am glad that Meghan Markle is on the scene- it will give the selfish, good for nothing Kate some things to think about.

  11. I saw that the Norwegian royals are in Canada for a couple of days. It would be interesting to see how their costs break down and compare/contrast to WK’s visit. I believe it’s a shorter trip but we could do the math.
    I kinda liked Justin before all this royal visit stuff. I know it’s typical for heads of states to visit other countries but considering they just had a nearly million dollar visit not too long ago is a little ridiculous.

  12. I know the British taxpayer contributes to the royal income but are there any financial contributions for nations that still “recognize” the crown as a figure head? I guess what I’m asking is other than putting the queen’s portrait on money, what do countries like Canada “do” about participating in acknowledging the monarchy in an official capacity?

  13. Hi! I’m too lazy to google but there are articles out about this. What I only found out a few months ago is that local councils have to cover security for royal visits. So it’s not just the charities themselves that incur expenses, it’s also the general public. That’s money that doesn’t come out of the royals’ allowance.

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