Meghan Markle, Prince Harry spend $3M of taxpayers’ cash on Frogmore Cottage refurb: report
The Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle made her first public appearance since the birth of her baby Archie at the Trooping the Colour ceremony for Queen Elizabeth II.
Harry and Meghan’s refurb of their Frogmore Cottage home has so far cost taxpayers a whopping $3 million in U.S. dollars. The couple’s new residence now boasts a designer kitchen — part of a taxpayer- funded refurb which will cost nearly $3.8 million when all the costs are added.
Royal accounts show work on the couple’s home has so far cost the public far more than original estimates, sparking fury from campaigners. Their five-bedroom property — a gift from the Queen — is said to have required a “substantial overhaul” before they were able to move in, including new heating, wiring and utilities.
But the public also coughed up for the kitchen, bathrooms and even fitted wardrobes and storage, as well as a renowned interior designer. However, officials said the couple did pay for their own “fixtures and fittings”. The books for all the royals show the monarchy cost the taxpayer almost $105 million last year.
Harry, 34, and Meghan, 37, moved into their new home in April, a month before baby Archie Harrison was born. When the Sun last year revealed their planned relocation, officials tried to downplay the cost, saying it would be closer to $1.9 million. But accounts yesterday revealed the refurbishment of the property near Windsor Castle cost $3 million in the financial year to April alone.
Any work carried out since then has not been included, and the exterior has yet to be repainted — so the true cost is expected to be closer to $3.8 million. The books revealed major work was undertaken to turn five properties back to a single home. A luxury kitchen was installed, while an existing studio with a bedroom was renovated, and fireplaces, floors and staircases replaced.
Meghan chose eco-friendly, toxin-free and vegan paint for the redecoration, which was reportedly overseen by designer Vicky Charles. She was responsible for the interiors of Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire, a hotel and members’ club popular with celebs.
Revealing the royal accounts yesterday, Sir Michael Stevens, Keeper of the Privy Purse, insisted that Frogmore Cottage had been neglected and needed doing up. He said: “The property had not been the subject of work for some years and had already been earmarked for renovation.”
He added: “The building was returned to a single residence and outdated infrastructure was replaced to guarantee the long-term future of the property. “Substantially all fixtures and fittings were paid for by Their Royal Highnesses.”
A royal source said defective wooden ceiling beams and floor joists were replaced, while inefficient heating systems were also updated. The home also needed substantial electrical rewiring and new gas and water mains installed.
The main renovation took around six months but some work is still outstanding, such as repainting the exterior and landscaping the grounds. Palace sources said that cost will not be revealed as it is “part of a five-year repainting and repair program." They also said there was a cap on installations such as kitchens and bathrooms, and the couple had to pay extra if they wanted a more bespoke version.
Accounts for the Sovereign Grant, which funds the Queen and her household’s official expenses, show the monarchy cost the taxpayer $105 million in 2018/19, or $1.58 per person in the UK. It spent $85 million of that — a year-on-year rise of almost $25 million — thanks partly to work at Buckingham Palace.
The latest revelations sparked fury among republican campaigners, who called for an inquiry into a “blatant misuse of public money”. Graham Smith, of the Republic pressure group, said: “This year’s increases are outrageous at a time of widespread spending cuts.
“If even one school or hospital is facing cuts we cannot justify spending a penny on the royals." “Yet with all public services under intense financial pressure we throw £2.4million at a new house for Harry.”
The royals’ carbon emissions almost doubled — mainly due to royal air travel. Accounts revealed their greenhouse gas output increased by 93 percent year-on-year. This was blamed on the “higher usage of chartered fixed-wing aircraft for foreign business travel” and there were “five such overseas visits in 2018-19 compared to one in 2017-18”.
Charles and Camilla had three big overseas tours last year, including Africa and the Caribbean, while William went to Israel and Jordan. Palace officials said the Foreign Office chose where to send royals on tour. Charles’ office said his overseas travel carbon footprint was only up two percent.