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Home Europe Prince Harry repays £2.4m cottage renovation cost

Prince Harry repays £2.4m cottage renovation cost

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of SussexImage copyright
Reuters

The Duke of Sussex has paid back the cost of refurbishing Frogmore Cottage near Windsor Castle.

The cost, estimated at £2.4m in 2018-19, was covered by taxpayers through the Sovereign Grant, but the duke and duchess said they would repay it when they stepped back from royal duties.

Prince Harry’s spokesman said he had paid the bill in full by making a contribution to the grant.

The property will remain a UK residence for the duke and his family.

It comes days after the couple announced they had reached a deal with Netflix to make a range of programmes, some of which they may appear in.

A multi-year deal will encompass documentaries, docu-series, feature films, scripted shows and children’s programming.

Image copyright
Alamy

Image caption

Frogmore Cottage sits in a secluded spot on the Queen’s Windsor estate in Berkshire

Frogmore Cottage should have been a rather lovely family home. Instead it became one of the reasons why, eventually, Harry and Meghan left Britain and the official side of the Royal Family.

The cost of renovation – £2.4m in 2018-19, with more to come after that – provoked critical commentary, and a wave of largely illusory stories about what the money had been spent on.

Just as the couple were setting up their first place together and creating a home for their child, they were subject to what they thought was unfair and intrusive comment.

For decades, taxpayer funding has been a sticky subject for the Royal Family; it is a point of purchase for critics, who point to the Sovereign Grant and to the costs of security and ask whether the monarchy lives extravagantly and provides value for money.

In the negotiations over the couple stepping back from royal duties early this year, money – inevitably – was a serious issue.

It was Harry and Meghan who announced that they would repay the cost of renovating Frogmore Cottage. In such way a line is drawn, and the couple may perceive themselves to be free of any of the obligations they once laboured under.

And Frogmore Cottage stands empty, a rather lonely monument to an unhappy chapter in the royal story.

The duke’s spokesman said of the repayment: “This contribution as originally offered by Prince Harry has fully covered the necessary renovation costs of Frogmore Cottage, a property of Her Majesty The Queen, and will remain the UK residence of the duke and his family.”

Last year’s royal accounts showed the cost of the renovations was £2.4 million and was covered by the grant.

It is the money given to the Queen by the government and pays for the salaries of the royal household, official travel and upkeep of palaces.

Harry and Meghan agreed to pay back the money as part of the plans drawn up when they quit as senior working royals in March.

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