The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are set to embark on their first tour as a family-of-three later this month with a trip to to southern Africa. And while the royal couple are no strangers to the jet-setting lifestyle, the tour certainly involves a lot of preparation - some can even take up to a year to plan! Here at HELLO!, we've decided to look at some of the surprising facts you may not know about their official visits overseas.
Why do the royal family take part in them?
The Cambridge family during an official visit to Poland and Germany in 2017
Tours tend to be either instigated by the UK government, or by an invitation from the host country. The itinerary, which is usually packed with meetings, activities, and special events, is put together based on national importance the hosting government would like to draw attention to. Some visits to places also reflect a royal member's personal interests.
How long are the trips?
Tours can vary depending on the location. Prince Harry and Meghan's tour to Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand was a total of 16 days. That same year, Prince William and Kate travelled to Sweden and Norway for four days.
Meghan and Harry went to Sydney last year
Who travels with the royals?
Members of the royal family tend to be supported by a large entourage, including the Tour Secretary, Personal Assistants, Hairdresser, a Nanny (if children accompany), Private Secretary, Press Officers and the Operations Manager. Of course, they will also be joined by security. An advance team of Royal Protection Service officers, consisting of a special division of London's Metropolitan Police Service, will also be on hand. When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Canada with their children in 2016, the royal couple took a team of 12.
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Do they still have to go through immigration?
Even royalty need passports. Prince George had to secure a baby passport for his trip to Australia in 2014. And the royal party has to adhere to customs and immigration rules but is usually fast-tracked through this process. The Queen 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.
Prince George on his trip to Australia in 2014
What's the price tag on an official trip?
Well, this can vary. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s extensive tour of St Lucia, Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Cuba and Grand Cayman cost a total of £417,000 in 2018. Meanwhile, Prince Harry and Meghan’s visit to Fiji and Tonga cost a modest £81,000 in comparison. Who pays? The UK government usually covers the cost of the international flights that the royal party and their team require in getting to and from the country they're visiting. However, the hosting nation covers the majority of costs.
Should heirs fly together?
Royal protocol is that two heirs should never fly on the same flight together so that the royal lineage is protected. However, Prince William broke this tradition when his son was born and took him on the same flight to Australia when Prince George was nine months old. George has since travelled regularly with his parents on various tours.
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What wardrobe do royals pack?
Of course, the royals - in particular, the women - will have plenty of help with wardrobe planning and packing. Both Meghan and Kate may not go as far as the Queen, who is said to have doubles made of some outfits, but they certainly have back-up clothes and shoes to cope with anything unexpected. Royal women often choose colours and other details such as jewellery which reflect the flag or national emblems of the country they're visiting. Princess Diana wore a Mughal-inspired evening gown by Catherine Walker for her 1992 visit to India, while Meghan wore various outfits from Australian designers during her tour in 2018.
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