Meghan Markle and Prince Harry: Will the royals need visas to travel to Australia?
Meghan Markle and her husband Prince Harry are setting off on their first royal tour next month on a 16-day visit to Australia and New Zealand.
They have been invited to visit the Commonwealth Realms by the countries’ respective governments.
The Duke and Duchess will also travel to the Pacific Islands of Fiji and Tonga during their whirlwind tour, at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
When Britons head to Australia, they need a visa to enter the country. But will this rule apply to Harry and Meghan?
Despite their privileged status in the UK, all members of the royal family still have to travel with a passport and be subjected to the usual security checks, which includes visas, if they travel to countries that require them.
Meghan, Prince Harry and the rest of their regal relations – must go through immigration control when travelling through the airport.
However, in certain situations, the royal family are allowed to cut corners when it comes to applying for visas.
In Australia, they can be granted a Special Purpose Visa.
According to the Australian government’s Department of Home Affairs, “This visa allows people with a prescribed status or who are declared by the Minister to hold a Special Purpose Visa to lawfully enter and remain in Australia”.
You cannot apply for this visa. It is granted when you enter Australia if you are “a member of the Royal Family (that is, the Queen’s immediate family) or their personal staff or media representative or a person accompanying them as a member of their official party.”
Other people granted this includes airline crew members, guests of the Australian Government and a member of the armed forces of a Commonwealth country.
The Queen is the only person in the country who doesn’t need to take her passport when travelling – because she doesn’t have one.
This is because British passports are issued in the name of Her Majesty.
The first page of all British passports read: “Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.”
The monarch instead has to answer a few questions as an identity check whenever she travels instead of going through passport control.
These questions include name, age, address, place of birth and nationality.
Meghan and Harry’s tour will focus on the recovery and rehabilitation of servicemen and women through Prince Harry’s 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney.
Kensington Palace said: “The programme across these four Commonwealth countries will focus on youth leadership, environmental and conservation efforts – including the dedication of several new Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy projects – and the recovery and rehabilitation of servicemen and women through the Invictus Games Sydney 2018.”
The 16-day visit will take place between Tuesday, October 16 and Wednesday, October 31.
Full details about their tour are still yet to be announced.