When the Queen and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, are driven over the Mersey Gateway Bridge tomorrow (Thursday) they won't have to worry about going online to pay the toll charge.
A toll will still apply to the royal car as it conveys the pair to carry out the official opening but the monarch's personal representative, the Lord Lieutenant, will pick up the tab.
However, given the British royal family is paid for by the tax-payers it will mean the British public covers the cost in any event.
The bridge, linking Runcorn and Widnes, opened in October 2017 with a £2 charge for cars and in the first three months had raised £15m in tolls and fines.
Halton residents and Blue Badge holders travel free once they have successfully registered and paid the administration fee but everyone else must pay.
Mersey Gateway Crossings Board, who run the bridge, confirmed police vehicles accompanying Her Majesty were exempt and it has now been confirmed the 'Lord Lieutenant's Office' will cover toll charges relating to the royal car itself.
A spokesperson said: “In line with legislation, police vehicles crossing the Mersey Gateway bridge are exempt from paying tolls. In respect of Her Majesty’s vehicle, the toll will be paid.”
Unlike with a conventional toll bridge there are no toll booths, instead vehicles are captured by Merseyflow’s 24 hour CCTV.
Drivers have until 11.59pm the next day to pay the £2 toll charge or face being issued an automatic £40 Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).
The royal family don’t like to be associated with controversy but in officially opening the Mersey Gateway Bridge Her Majesty and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, will become embroiled whether they like it or not.
And they could be greeted by activists from campaign group Scrap Mersey Tolls (SMT), who are opposed to tolls and have decided to bring forward a planned protest to coincide with the royal visit to maximise publicity for their cause.
The group says: “With the opening of the tolled Mersey Gateway Bridge, and the tolling of the Silver Jubilee Bridge and the Mersey Tunnels, there are now four toll ‘barriers’ along a substantial length of the Mersey which effectively divide the region into two. These toll barriers damage both the local and wider economies and divide communities, families and friends.”
City MP Chris Matheson , who will dine with the royal pair at Chester Town Hall during the latter part of their trip after the official opening of Storyhouse, has taken the lead in fighting the tolls.
Like many, he is angry promises by former Chancellor George Osborne to extend the free crossings discount scheme to Warrington and Cheshire West drivers has not been fulfilled.
Referencing a tribunal decision that ruled drivers were not fully made aware of the tolls, Mr Matheson recently told parliament: “The recent court case that found the collection of tolls at the Mersey crossing unlawful has afforded ministers an opportunity to pause and review the operation of those tolls, which are hated across my region. Will they take that opportunity and review the tolls?”
Jesse Norman, parliamentary under-secretary, Department for Transport, responded: “As the honourable gentleman will know, the road has been extraordinarily successful and is a great example of a piece of newly funded infrastructure. That issue is primarily for Halton Borough Council, but we are following the situation closely.”