Just over two weeks ago, Prince Harry and Meghan announced that they have paid back public money spent renovating their UK home Frogmore Cottage. And now it has emerged that the lump-sum also covers commercial rent that they must now pay on the Windsor property as their private home.
A senior palace source said yesterday that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made a “substantial contribution to the Sovereign Grant that covers refurbishment and rental obligations for Frogmore Cottage.” The exact amount has not been disclosed and will not be disclosed until reporting at the end of this financial year. But the lump-sum exceeds the £2.4 million cited so far as public expenditure on the cottage, and means that their rental on the property is covered for an unspecified period of time.
It was Harry and Meghan’s wish to pay back the public money spent on the structural renovations of the cottage once they decided to step back as senior working royals less than two years after their wedding. They were not obliged to return the £2.4 million of public funds. But the fact that it was spent with the expectation that Frogmore Cottage would be their long-term residence while they carried out royal duties meant that the cost became a thorny issue when they quit public life so soon.
An arrangement was originally put in place for them to return the money in installments while paying rent; however, not long after it was announced that they had signed a multi-year production deal with Netflix, the couple made a statement saying they had made a lump-sum payment to the Sovereign Grant in connection to Frogmore.
A royal source said yesterday that exactly how the payment will show up in the royal accounts next year is yet to be determined and must be “subject to independent scrutiny by the National Audit Office.” The amount of rent the couple is paying is private and will not be disclosed, but a source said that the household has “consulted with independent property professionals to establish the level of rent that would be payable on Frogmore Cottage as their private residence.”
The information came to light as the royal household opened its accounting books to show how it spent public money in the financial year from April 2019 to March 2020. The Queen received £82.4 million in the financial year covering April 2019 to March 2020, £33 million for the ongoing reservicing of Buckingham Palace and £49.4 million to meet official royal expenditure.
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