World·Royal Fascinator

How much does a royal visit cost?

Canadian Heritage says total costs for next week's visit to Canada by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, haven't been finalized, but when it comes to such tours, tallying total costs means drawing in figures from several sources, including the RCMP and federal, provincial and territorial governments.

Expenditures covered by RCMP, federal, provincial and territorial governments

Prince Charles, accompanied by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, signs a guest book at Canada House in London, England, on Thursday, ahead of their visit to Canada next week. (Hannah McKay/Getty Images)

The focus for this edition of The Royal Fascinator came from audience members, like you, who got in touch with us. Send us your questions about the upcoming visit by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. We are listening: 

Last week, we asked Fascinator readers to share any and all answers to these questions:

  • What do you want to know about the royal visit?

  • If you had the opportunity, what would you want to ask Prince Charles? 

  • What kind of ties do you want Canada to have with the monarchy?

While readers offered a wide range of answers, questions of their own, some themes and particular interests emerged. We'll take a look at some of them here and follow up on others in future editions of the newsletter. 

How much will the royal visit cost taxpayers?

Prince Charles and Camilla arrive at Canada House in London on Thursday. (Hannah McKay/Getty Images)

When it comes to what readers who responded would like to know about next week's visit by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, one question was top of mind for many.

How much will it cost taxpayers?

Canadian Heritage said Thursday via email that the cost of this tour hasn't been finalized, but final costs will be made public once the visit is over.

Questions about costs of visits and security provided to members of the Royal Family when they are in Canada have emerged many times over the years.

Most recently, the questions were over the cost for providing security while Prince Harry and his family were in Canada. CBC reported late last year that protecting them cost Canadian taxpayers more than $334,000 over a period of less than four years.

When it comes to royal visits, tallying total costs means drawing in figures from several sources, including the RCMP and federal, provincial and territorial governments.

Prince Charles and Camilla walk to place wreathes at the Afghanistan War Memorial in Trenton, Ont., on June 30, 2017, during their last visit to Canada. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

The 2017 visit by Charles and Camilla — their most recent trip to Canada, and similar in length, at three days — had a cost of $487,661.68 for Canadian Heritage, the federal department said.

This included:

  • $12,404.91 for general administration.

  • $42,782.11 for professional services (such as photographers and translation). 

  • $75,384.29 for rentals (including vehicles and meeting rooms). 

  • $211,115.94 for memorandums of understanding with federal institutions (including hospitality for receptions, accreditation, motorcades).

  • $145,974.43 for travel expenses (including commercial air transportation, accommodation and meals).

Those numbers don't include security costs. 

For the eight-day visit by Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, in 2016, the RCMP said it spent about $2 million in policing costs. Records showed that its largest expenses for the visit to British Columbia and Yukon involved pay, overtime and travel costs, which totalled about $1.9 million.

Prince William, and his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, take part in a tea party with their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, at Government House in Victoria on Sept. 29, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

The B.C. government said its costs for the visit came in at slightly more than $613,000, including the $45,206 tab for the Royals flying to and from Canada from the United Kingdom, along with travel costs while they were in British Columbia.

The federal government had budgeted $855,600 for the tour, and Yukon's Department of Tourism and Culture reported costs of $11,755 for the time William and Kate were in Carcross and Whitehorse. 

We'll continue to follow up on costs for next week's trip.

What about Indigenous issues?

Prince Charles, right, and Camilla, during a community feast event at Sylvia Grinnel Territorial Park on June 29, 2017, in Iqaluit. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

We heard from several people who were focused on Indigenous issues, and wondered what Prince Charles may say or do on that topic while in Canada, whether that might involve a mention of reparations, or an apology.

There's no doubt scrutiny will be high on this during the visit. Several scheduled engagements focus on or include members of Indigneous communities. 

The official public welcoming ceremony in St. John's on Tuesday will feature Mi'kmaw music and a prayer in Inuktitut. While visiting Government House, the official residence of N.L.'s lieutenant governor, Charles and Camilla will take part in a moment of reflection and prayer at the Heart Garden, which honours the memory of Indigenous children who were lost to the residential school system, survivors and families of both.

On Thursday in the Northwest Territories, Charles and Camilla will visit Dettah, a Dene First Nation community about 25 kilometres outside Yellowknife.

According to the trip itinerary, Charles will take part in a discussion with local chiefs and elders. He'll also participate in a discussion on Treaty 11, its history and legacy in the Northwest Territories.

A focus on the environment

Prince Charles walks in Bonshaw Park on Prince Edward Island on May 20, 2014. (John Stilwell/Getty Images)

Several of you had the environment and climate change front and centre among your thoughts.

Charles has had a personal interest in the environment and sustainability since the early 1970s — even though he was mocked for it at the time — and has long been calling for action to protect the Earth and fight climate change. 

Questions you'd like to pose to him include his views on what Canadians could do to live more sustainably and what the country's priorities on the environment should be.

As with Indigenous issues, there is little doubt what Charles says and does on this topic will be under heavy scrutiny during the trip.

"The Prince of Wales has long believed that we need to learn from Indigenous peoples around the world how better we should live in and care for nature and the planet," Clarence House said in a news release when the itinerary was announced. 

"Canada is seeing the impact of climate change and so this tour will highlight an emphasis on learning from Indigenous peoples in Canada as well as a focus on working with businesses to find a more sustainable way of living with global warming."

Where are Charles and Camilla going? Where can I see them in Ottawa? 

Prince Charles and Camilla take part in Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on July 1, 2017. (Blair Gable/Reuters)

Some of you had specific questions about the itinerary for the visit and how it would have been determined.

It's a short visit — three days — which is the current trend for such tours. It's in marked contrast to visits of years gone by that lasted several days — and decades ago could go for weeks and extend from coast to coast.

It's not the royals who direct where they will go on these official visits.

"The government of Canada is completely in control of [Charles's] itinerary, his guest lists," said Nathan Tidridge, a high school history, civics and Indigenous studies teacher in Waterdown, Ont., and vice-president of the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada.

"It's the Prime Minister's Office through [Canadian Heritage] that makes those decisions."

Other members of the Royal Family sometimes come to Canada on lower-profile working visits that may focus on their charitable interests or patronages.

"You see that with [Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex]. They're here quite a lot and they do a lot of work with Indigenous Nations," said Tidridge. "We don't ever hear about it, but they've been here 30 times or something like that."

Queen Elizabeth wears a maple leaf brooch in Ottawa on Canada Day 2010. She has made 22 official visits to Canada. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

This visit by Charles and Camilla starts in St. John's on Tuesday, then sees Charles and Camilla in Ottawa on Wednesday and the Northwest Territories on Thursday.

Ottawa, as the national capital, frequently turns up on any royal tour. With these shorter visits, it has become the practice to spread out the destinations among the provinces and territories from one trip to another.

This visit, which is part of efforts to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee and 70 years as monarch, seems more focused on specific issues and current events. (There is, for example, a meeting in Ottawa with Ukrainian Canadians, where Charles and Camilla will hear their stories and about Canadian efforts to support the people of Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.)

There is a Platinum Jubilee reception at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Wednesday evening, but none of the big spectacle, state-dinner-style moments that were hallmarks of tours years ago.

Queen Elizabeth delivers a speech after a state dinner at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Oct. 16, 1977. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau is at the right. Such events are not part of the upcoming royal visit. (The Canadian Press)

The Ottawa portion of the visit includes an appearance at 10:50 a.m. ET Wednesday at the National War Memorial for a wreath-laying ceremony.

You can read more about the trip itinerary here.

You can also read more here about the nature of royal visits, particularly in the wake of the controversial visit by Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, to the Caribbean earlier this year.

The future of the monarchy and Canada's ties to it

Queen Elizabeth welcomes Canadian Gov. Gen. Mary Simon and her husband, Whit Fraser, for tea at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England, on March 15, 2022. (Associated Press/Steve Parsons)

On the future of the monarchy, several of you would ask Charles about his own priorities — broadly for the institution and for Canada specifically.

Several of you also said the time has come for Canada to sever ties with the monarchy, seeing it as an outdated, colonial institution. Others want to stay firmly connected, seeing strength in its continuity and form of government, as a contrast to places such as the United States.

One specific question on your mind here is how Canada could hypothetically cut its relationship with the monarchy.

We've looked at this issue a few times in recent months, particularly after Barbados cut its ties with Queen Elizabeth last fall.

Philippe Lagassé, a constitutional expert and associate professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, told our CBC colleague Jackson Weaver that it would be much more difficult to do the same in Canada. 

For Canada to amend its Constitution and replace the Queen as head of state, it would need to enact Article 41(a) of the Constitution Act of 1982. That statute requires a majority approval from "Senate and House of Commons and of the legislative assembly of each province" — meaning all 10 provinces would need to agree (though not the territories).

While a referendum is not legally required, Lagassé told Weaver it's incredibly unlikely any — let alone all — would move forward without one.

Prince Charles receives the Freedom of Barbados Award from President Sandra Mason at a ceremony marking the country's transformation into a republic on Nov. 30, 2021. (Jackson Weaver/CBC)

Even then, that's far from the only thing standing in the way. First, as Canada's current governing party is far from the majority that Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley's enjoyed, it would be virtually impossible to change Canada's governmental system — even if a vote did pass.

"As we saw when it came to efforts to amend the Constitution in the past," Lagassé said, "individual members have mechanisms at their disposal where they could delay or potentially derail that effort, even if a majority of members … might be in favour."

Read more about this here and here.

A monarchy in transition

Prince Charles reads the Queen's speech during the state opening of Parliament in London on Tuesday. (Ben Stansall/The Associated Press)

Some of you are wondering about the transition to Charles as King, with questions such as how he and the Queen are preparing for it.

One vivid reflection of the transition played out in London this week, as Charles read the Queen's speech for the state opening of the British Parliament.

Queen Elizabeth missed the opening for the first time in nearly 60 years. In the announcement that she wouldn't be on hand this time, Buckingham Palace noted the mobility issues the 96-year-old monarch has been having for the past few months, which have seen her miss several public appearances and events.

Charles's reading of the speech was the latest in a growing number of events and responsibilities various members of the Royal Family have been assuming gradually for the past few years.

Craig Prescott, a constitutional expert at Bangor University in Wales, said Charles's reading of the speech is a "significant moment" in the transition from the Queen to her heir.

"The Queen's speech is one of the most important ceremonial occasions in the U.K.," Prescott said via email. "It's the start of the parliamentary year, and reflects the constitutional importance of the monarchy."

Prince Charles, left, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, right, and Prince William, rear, proceed behind the Imperial State Crown for the state opening of Parliament in London on Tuesday. (Hannah McKay/The Associated Press)

However, Prescott said, the Queen is "still very much in charge" and deals with state papers every day.

"Only now, due to her age, some set-piece, ceremonial occasions, such as the Queen's speech, will now be left to other members of the Royal Family, especially Prince Charles."

The "real significance" of the moment, Prescott suggested, is the glimpse it offers into the future, "of what the monarchy will look like when Charles becomes King."

"This might even further the stability of the monarchy, as people are prepared for the time when Charles takes to the throne, as they can see him performing aspects of the role."

Royally quotable

"As someone who lives with his own grief, I also know that what often matters most to the bereaved is that those we have lost are not forgotten." 

— Prince William speaks of his grief for his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, who died in 1997, during the unveiling of a memorial to those killed five years ago in the attack after an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. 

Prince William gives a speech at the launch of the Glade of Light Memorial outside Manchester Cathedral on Tuesday in Manchester, England. The memorial commemorates the victims of the attack that took place after an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017. (Jon Super/Getty Images)

Royal reads

  1. Visitors at the opening day of the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa this weekend will have a chance to see Ottawa-born Princess Margriet of the Netherlands during her five-day trip to the city. [CBC]

  2. When Queen Victoria marked a jubilee (for 50 years on the throne) there was a lavish banquet and parade, but her diary shows it was tinged with sadness, as she remembered her late husband, Prince Albert. [Daily Mail]

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Janet Davison is a CBC senior writer and editor based in Toronto.

With files from Jackson Weaver

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