Wales

William cottage security bill paid for by UK taxpayers

The estimated £1.4m bill for security costs over Prince William's living arrangements will be met centrally and not locally, it has emerged.

The prince has faced pressure from a taxpayers' lobby group to live on an RAF base on Anglesey, where he is training, rather than a local cottage.

The Sunday Times said North Wales Police was providing security.

Official sources told the BBC the extra cost would be picked up centrally and not by North Wales Police.

Prince William, or Flight Lieutenant Wales as he is known in the RAF, began his search-and-rescue training at RAF Valley in January after completing 12 months at RAF Shawcross.

Clarence house has confirmed that when he returns later this year, while he undertakes a three-year helicopter training course, he will not be living in barracks but in the cottage he has lived in since March.

It was claimed the cost of the extra protection involved could have been passed on to local council taxpayers.

Former royal protection officers said it was the wrong decision in the current financial climate, while the TaxPayers' Alliance has said William should remain in military barracks..

Speaking before it was known costs would be met centrally, Ken Wharf, who used to protect the Princess of Wales, said he believed that William had been badly advised.

"In a time of recession when all public sector areas of the country are looking to ease their budgets, I think a lot of people are going to find this a very difficult one to swallow since there are a lot of alternatives," he told BBC Radio Wales .

"North Wales Police has not been singled out but they will have to look at trimming their budgets and when we look at the amount of money here - if it is £1.4m - that sort of money can be of tremendous use to local policing issues in north Wales."

Dai Davies, a former head of Scotland Yard's royal protection squad, said on Sunday the prince would be "much safer" on the RAF base where he can be protected by RAF police.

He said: "I don't think the ratepayers of north Wales should be paying it [the police bill], I think it should come out of central funds allocated to protecting the royals which are currently in excess of £50m."

The TaxPayers' Alliance said William - who as second in line to the throne needs 24-hour protection - should help save "cash-strapped" taxpayers money by moving into barracks.

"Though he may wish to be close to his girlfriend it's unfair that the rest of us should have to pick up this considerable tab," a spokeswoman said.

"With pressure on public finances, everyone is having to make sacrifices and the royal family shouldn't be exempt."

Clarence House said they would not comment on matters of security but said that William had been living at the cottage since March.

"It is not unusual for an officer of Williams age and rank to live off base for reasons of privacy," it said.

North Wales Police said it does not comment on any security issues concerning the royal family.

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