British royals' visit costs SF taxpayers $105,000 (SF Chronicle, 11/20/05)

Taxpayers rolled out red carpet for the royals
- Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross
Sunday, November 20, 2005

Prince Charles certainly got the royal treatment on his recent visit to the Bay Area -- and judging by the security bills, the trip came at a royal cost for taxpayers as well.

The San Francisco Police Department says it paid officers $105,000 in regular and overtime pay to provide escort and dignitary protection to the prince and his bride, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, during their four-day visit earlier this month.

And department insiders tell us they don't expect the feds or British government to reimburse them for their work.

Protecting the royals comes with all the headaches of a visit by a president or any other head of state. In addition to the Secret Service, State Department and princely pair's own British security, San Francisco police pitched in with dozens of officers to provide motorcycle escorts, hotel security and bomb sweeps. They also posted snipers on rooftops.

On Nov. 7 -- the day Charles and Camilla crossed the bay from Oakland to the Ferry Building on a Coast Guard cutter -- 16 officers from Southern Station were deployed to the waterfront to help with crowd control. Another four officers had to be pulled from elsewhere to handle routine service calls.

And as many as two dozen motorcycle cops were on hand to escort Charles and Camilla back to their hotel on Nob Hill, before the couple were again whisked off in a motorcade to a dinner at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in Golden Gate Park.

Central Station alone had 21 police officers and two sergeants -- all working overtime -- assigned to help out when Charles and Camilla attended "Beach Blanket Babylon" in North Beach, for which the street in front of the theater was closed for several hours.

From what we hear, some of the San Francisco police work extended into the North Bay, where the royal couple toured a farmers' market, lunched with organic farmers, and attended church in Inverness.

And it wasn't just the royals who got the royal treatment.

We're told that while Charles and Camilla were boating across the bay, a contingent of California Highway Patrol officers escorted the couple's empty limo back across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco.

How's that for service?