Traveling can be tedious: standing in line at security, luggage allowances, plane delays, jet lag, and strange hotels. But is this the same for the royals? As Prince Harry heads to Toronto for the 2017 Invictus Games, HELLO! explains the rules of royal travel.
Yes, royals do fly commercial! Here, Kate and William disembark from a British Airways plane Photo: Getty Images
airlines are acceptable
Just like everybody else, the royals are under economic restraints and have to stick to a budget. A big budget, but still a budget! In 2012, they spent $7 million on travel, while in 2017 the price tag was $5.8 million. Prince William and Kate Middleton have been known to skip chartered royal jets – Duchess Kate took her place in seat 1A on a British Airways flight from Rotterdam to London in 2016 while down-to-earth Wills was spotted on a Ryanair flight to Glasgow a year earlier. Princes William and Harry also flew economy on American Airlines from Memphis to Dallas in May of 2014. You're not likely to bump into Queen Elizabeth on your next airplane trip though – Her Majesty no longer takes scheduled flights.
Airways is their go-to airline
The British royals like to support their own country and try to fly British Airways when they do fly commercial. In 2011, William and Kate experienced the same frustrations of air travel we all do when their British Airways plane’s in-flight entertainment broke. The Duchess is very accustomed to flying the airline – her father and mother both worked for BA!
is a given
The royals may not always fly private, but they never fly without their top-notch security team of trained experts. But all in all, they don’t travel with as large an entourage as you would expect. On their trip to LA in 2011, William and Kate had just a seven-person deep entourage, while on their visit to Canada in 2016, thte royal couple brought a 12-stong squad along.
Of course the royals have special monogrammed luggage Photo: Getty Images
The packing arrangements of the royals are a grand affair. When the royals travel, they travel in style. On William’s trip to Australia, royal watchers were given a glimpse of his luggage which was emblazoned with the letter W and a crown. Kate isn’t quite so formal and apparently has a more eclectic mix of bags and suit carriers — which will carry her abundance of outfits (she had 25 during her tour of California and Canada in 2011). But at least they won’t get mixed up with William’s — the royal couple have an organized luggage tag system with a different color label for each family member.
Prince William and Prince George have often traveled on the same flight – a no-no according to traditional royal protocol Photo: Getty Images
heirs should not fly together
Royal protocol is that two heirs should never fly on the same flight together so that the royal lineage is protected. And, despite there being no official rule in place, heirs must still seek permission from Queen Elizabeth, who has the final say on the matter. In fact, Prince William was granted permission from the Queen to bend the rules when his son was just nine months old; Prince George accompanied his parents on a tour of Australia and New Zealand in 2014. In September 2016, the Cambridges also traveled as a family of four to Canada with Princess Charlotte. And in July 2017, the family toured Poland and Germany, boarding three flights together.
That's not always the case, though. On their trip to New York in December 2014, Prince William and Kate adhered to this rule again and Prince George stayed at home with his nanny and grandmother Carole Middleton.
Even the littlest royals have passports. Only Queen Elizabeth is allowed to travel without one Photo: Getty Images
immigration rules apply
Even royalty need passports. Little Prince George had to get a baby passport for his trip to Australia, which cost the royals $65. And the royal party has to adhere to customs and immigration rules but is usually fast-tracked through this process.
Queen Elizabeth is the only royal who doesn’t need a passport as passports are issued in the name of Her Majesty — however, she is forced to go through an identity check every time she flies in and out of Britain, giving her full name, age, address, nationality, gender and place of birth to immigration officials.
Even the most glamorous of us like to be comfortable on a long haul flight. We let our style go a little and dress in track pants or at least a comfy pair of jeans, right? Not William and Kate. These royals travel in style and always arrive smart and polished. Kate’s arrival outfit is either a signature two-piece suit or long dress, whereas William rarely arrives not wearing a suit or blazer and slacks.
Everyone knows flying can dehydrate your skin, so Kate travels with her favorite skincare line. The royal swears by Heaven products that are famously made with bee venom by skin specialist Deborah Mitchell. Kate has used the bee venom mask in black and gold, which cleans and tightens skin and acts as a natural face-lift. And then, of course, there is the matter of the royal's world-famous locks. For the Duchess' trips, including the Canada jaunt, her personal hair stylist Amanda Cook Tucker is part of the official entourage.
All things considered, what's the price tag on an official trip? Well, it varies. Prince William's week-long tour of Japan and China totaled $109,000, but William and Kate's trip to New York, where they stayed at the luxury Carlyle Hotel, ended up costing a relatively modest $26,600. Harry's trip to Brazil and Chile cost $135,000 including his flights and travel staff. In 2016, Prince Charles had the most expensive trip – his visit to Italy, Romania and Austria with his wife the Duchess of Cornwall came in at just under $200,000.
Royal photographers also go on the road
Veteran photog Arthur Edwards – whose Twitter bio highlights that he has "photographed 7 royal weddings, 4 funerals and 7 royal births", has traveled to New Zealand with Prince Harry and Southeast Asia with Prince William and Kate Middleton to name a few of his jaunts. He was even made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for "outstanding service to newspapers."
Getty Images' royal photographer Chris Jackson – whose wife is Duchess Kate's stylist, Natasha Archer – is another go-to snapper for iconic pics, and has a firm following of fans on his Instagram page.
For more on royal tours, click here.