British Columbia set to pick up part of hefty Royal tour bill

The upcoming royal visit, which will include the Duke and Duchess as well as their two children, will be paid for by the Canadian government and the governments of British Columbia and the Yukon.

Federal government, British Columbia and Yukon set to cover cost of royal visit

Kensington Palace has confirmed that Prince William and his wife, Kate, shown here in October 2015, will be bringing their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte with them on a week-long tour of B.C. and the Yukon, starting Sept. 24. (Chris Jeff/Associated Press )

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are about to embark on an all-expenses-paid trip courtesy of the Canadian taxpayer.

The upcoming royal visit, which will include the Duke and Duchess and their two children, will be paid for by the Canadian government and the governments of British Columbia and the Yukon.

One of the most significant costs associated with the eight-day tour across B.C. and Yukon will be security and policing costs.

The RCMP has not released any information publicly about how much it will cost to keep the royal family and other dignitaries safe while attending more than a dozen events.

"Security costs for protection of visiting members of the Royal Family while in Canada are covered through the RCMP's existing operational budget. For security reasons, we can't provide a detailed breakdown of these costs," said a statement provided by the RCMP.

No specific numbers

The RCMP would also not provide information on the number of police officers assigned to the tour.

While the Mounties are largely responsible for keeping the famous family of four safe, it is up to local police forces to ensure the sites are secure.

The Victoria Police Department will be responsible for policing crowds around the B.C. Legislature during the largest public event of the tour on September 24.

'Limited budget' for local police

The Vancouver Police Department will oversee policing when Will and Kate arrive at Jack Poole Plaza on September 25 and continue their way to the Downtown Eastside and the Kitsilano Coast Guard base.

Acting Sgt. Brian Montague says the royal visit is not expected "to affect us a lot" considering crowds will be significantly smaller than public events like the English bay fireworks or Pride weekend.  

But what is less clear is who ends up footing the bill. When high profile visitors visit, the VPD often takes on additional responsibilities and then discusses the bill with the other jurisdictions including the province and, in this case, the federal government.

"Who pays for what is something that is constantly discussed," said Montague.

"A lot of it is between us and the RCMP who I understand are the official conduit for the visit. We have a limited budget. We realize there are some expenses, but we are not going to pay for something that is not our responsibility."

Bringing own security

The royal couple will be bringing additional security themselves in the form of highly trained officers who operate as a branch of London's metropolitan police service.

But Ken Christie, a Royals Roads University professor on human security programs, says even with the extra protection, additional money will necessarily be spent.  

"They can't handle every single circumstance, especially when they are out in the public," said Christie. 

"There are always all sorts of challenges, the main one being they are very public figures. They like to be out among the public. They like to speak to the public. That creates a kind of difficulty for security forces."

Spin-off benefits

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been to Canada once before touring Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward island, the Northwest Territories and Alberta over nine days in 2011. 

That bill was an estimated $1.2 million.

It is money that will not be recouped by the government directly, but University of Victoria history professor Mariel Grant says it is an expenditure that will have residual effects.

According to Grant, after the royal couple visits local charities, like Sheway in Vancouver next week, donations often go up substantially.

Then there is the boost to tourism with visits slated for some of the province's most picturesque places. 

"The tourist industry will benefit greatly from the fact they have come here. There will be lots of international journalists here to cover the tour which will mean lots of beautiful photographs of British Columbia and the Yukon," said Grant.

"For example, a nice picture of the two of them standing in an Okanagan vineyard is probably worth a considerable amount of money to the tourist industry to the Okanagan."