News / Vancouver

B.C., Yukon spent more than $1M on royal tour; overall cost likely more than $3M

The funds covered several costs, including the royals' accommodation, site reconnaissance at each location and media transportation.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte get on a float plane as they prepare to leave Victoria, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016. The British Columbia government spent more than $600,000 on the royal tour last fall of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their two young children. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte get on a float plane as they prepare to leave Victoria, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016. The British Columbia government spent more than $600,000 on the royal tour last fall of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their two young children. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

VICTORIA — British Columbia and Yukon spent more than $1 million on the royal tour last fall of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their two young children.

The Canadian government has yet to announce its final bill. But the RCMP has said it spent $2 million and the federal government's budget estimate is $855,600, bringing the likely overall cost of the visit to more than $3.8 million.

While some taxpayers might cringe at the price tag, royal tours benefit Canadians in a number of ways, said royal historian Carolyn Harris.

"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge raised the profile of Canadian charities and environmental initiatives over the course of their tour," she said. "Royal tours of Canada receive global coverage and encourage travellers from around the world to visit."

Prince William and Kate drew frenzied crowds when they visited Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna, Bella Bella, Haida Gwaii, Whitehorse and Carcross between Sept. 24 and Oct. 1.

B.C. announced Thursday it spent $613,363 on the trip, while Yukon said it shelled out $429,000.

Tour stops in B.C. included a charity for pregnant mothers struggling with substance abuse in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and the world-renowned Great Bear Rainforest.

Costs to the province included $41,798 for accommodation of the royals, their household and staff, plus $27,589 for transportation.

B.C. also spent $196,129 on security, $28,815 on travel for provincial government officials and staff and $46,134 on media operations and services.

A reception at Government House in Victoria on Sept. 26, when the royal couple met notable British Columbians including First Nations, philanthropists and veterans, cost the province $20,854.

Other expenses to the B.C. government included $10,899 for site reconnaissance and $55,628 for a "dry run" of the tour with Kensington Palace officials.

The province said the tour attracted global attention to B.C. with about 435 accredited media, including CNN, Vogue, Hello Magazine and the Today Show, reaching millions of people.

"Their Royal Highnesses experienced the true West Coast lifestyle on their tour, including salmon fishing in Haida Gwaii, sailing in the Inner Harbour of Victoria, taking a float plane to Vancouver and walking through the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world," it said in a statement.

Harris said the 2016 royal tour was more streamlined than the 2011 tour, when the Duke and Duchess visited Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Alberta and the Northwest Territories over nine days.

"The 2016 visit was more centralized and largely based out of Victoria," she said, noting that apart from a single overnight stay in Whitehorse the couple slept in B.C.'s capital every night.

The Duke and Duchess visited Whitehorse and Carcross in Yukon on Sept. 27 and 28. The total bill for the trip was roughly $457,000, but Canada reimbursed the territory over $44,000.

The big ticket items were entertainment at $152,000, suppliers at $124,500 and the media centre at $56,000.

Yukon previously released a cost breakdown of the $11,754 spent by its Department of Tourism and Culture during the tour, which included $148 for balloons, $643 for helium and $800 for kettle corn.

The most costly item reported in the Yukon documents was linked to an event at the MacBride Museum in Whitehorse, where Prince William and Kate tweeted a royal welcome message using Second World War technology. The Morse code translation software cost $4,250. 

— By Laura Kane in Vancouver (The Canadian Press, CHON)

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