There’s a lot of carping in the media and on various internet forums about the Queen’s expenditure on the charter of a former ferry, the 49-passenger Hebridean Princess, for her holiday.
The moaners seem to be confusing the issue of taxpayers’ money and the Queen’s private income; it’s the latter that has funded this trip. (Cruise Critic members, incidentally, have been a little more charitable.)
Rude though it is to ask somebody what they paid for their holiday, I suppose Her Majesty isn’t going to be spared any scrutiny. So what have the royals actually forked out? Media estimates swing wildly from £125,000 to £300,000 and the reality is probably somewhere in between.
I totted up all the cabins at their lead-in price for the cruise following the royal charter and it comes to £162,640 total, per week. Multiply by two for a fortnight and knock off five percent discount for a repeat booking (remember, the Queen chartered the ship before in 2006) and you get just over £309,000.
Realistically, though, there would be a much bigger discount for a fortnight’s charter – at least 20 percent more — and the ship will be empty for four of the 14 nights so there’s a saving to be made on the all-inclusive booze. I’d reckon the royals have paid £250,000 absolute maximum for the ship, discounting security, which is a fixed cost. Not that we’ll ever know!
More to the point, to all those who have condemned the holiday, what was the alternative? The royal family can hardly stay in a hotel, unless they kick out all the other guests, and maybe they’re bored with Balmoral year in, year out. If the Queen wanted a cruise of some kind, private charter is the only answer.
So I had a look at the charter site of Edmiston Yachts, one of the poshest brokers. Adding up all the royals who were mentioned on the BBC news as the party boarded Hebridean Princess last Friday, I figured there would be at least 14 cabins required, assuming double occupancy and excluding security people, flunkies and so on.
The cheapest yacht that fits the brief on the Edmiston site is Atmosphere, which takes 28 and costs from $197,450 (£128,214) a week with no provisioning, and that’s an ugly thing with a helipad on top. The much nicer Sherakhan takes 26 and comes in at a modest €395,000 a week, or around £718,000 for a fortnight. No food or booze included. And neither yacht is based in Scotland, where Her Majesty prefers to cruise.
Makes Hebridean Princess look like better value, doesn’t it?