Fears have been raised over the cost to the taxpayer of keeping Prince Harry and his wife Meghan safe during any ‘secondment’ to Africa.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are reportedly considering a ‘sabbatical’ overseas, possibly in Botswana or South Africa, to work on behalf of the Commonwealth and charity engagements.
The Government and the Palace will open talks about the scope of any role Harry takes up and who will pay for the costs of the trip.
But concerns have already been raised that keeping the royal couple and their new baby safe in Africa will put a strain on the royal protection budget of the Metropolitan Police.
The cost of the SO 14 unit who protect the Royal Family has been estimated at around £130 million, although experts say looking after the Sussexes in Africa could cost an extra £1 million.
That would include any extra pay for the officers sent to Africa with the couple, as well as their medical, insurance, travel and accommodation costs. The secondment could take the form of a six-month trip, or four months a year for two years.
Botswana, where the couple spent Meghan’s 36th birthday in 2017, and Malawi have been put forward as possible temporary homes, as well as South Africa, with each country having its own security issues.
Former Met Police commander John O’Connor urged the Royal Family to contribute to the cost should any secondment go ahead.
He told The Sun: ‘Southern Africa is not safe by any means and IS have strongholds across the continent. It’s only right the Royal Family themselves contribute.’
Planning for the move is still in the ‘brainstorming’ stage, it was stressed yesterday, and there have been no formal discussions outside the palace walls, but one source described it as a ‘likely scenario’.
It is suggested the plan would also give the royal couple, whose baby is due soon, a break from the UK and possible divisions within the royal household.
Sir David Manning, the former British ambassador to the US and special adviser on constitutional and international affairs to Harry and the Duke of Cambridge, is said to have drawn up the plan and a decision on where the couple would be based may not be taken until 2020, The Sunday Times said.
It is suggested they could be away from Britain for two or more years.
Harry went to Lesotho during his gap year in 2004, and co-founded the Sentebale charity for vulnerable children in Lesotho, Botswana and Malawi in 2006. The royal couple are also said to have enjoyed a trip together to Botswana before they married.
A spokesman for the royal family said: ‘Any future plans for the duke and duchess are speculative at this stage. No decisions have been taken about future roles. ‘The duke will continue to fulfil his role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.’
Buckingham Palace said last night: ‘Any future plans for the Duke and Duchess are speculative at this stage. No decisions have been taken about future roles.’