The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Frogmore Cottage has been renovated with £2.4 million of taxpayers’ money, royal accounts have revealed.
Harry and Meghan’s country residence, close to Windsor Castle, underwent major work to turn five properties back into a single home for the couple and their baby son Archie – with all fittings and fixtures privately paid for by the duke and duchess.
It is likely they installed a luxury kitchen and bathroom and it has reportedly been designed by the couple with dining and entertaining in mind and with extra bedrooms to accommodate guests, like the duchess’ mother Doria Ragland.
Accounts for the Sovereign Grant, which funds the Queen and her household’s official expenses, show the monarchy cost the taxpayer £67 million during 2018-19 – an increase of almost £20 million on the previous financial year.
A large amount of the rise was due to work updating the decades-old services at Buckingham Palace and maintaining the occupied royal palaces.
The Core Sovereign Grant which helps fund the work of the Queen and her household, and pays for other activities like official royal travel, increased by £3.6 million to £49.3 million.
Sir Michael Stevens, Keeper of the Privy Purse, who is responsible for monarchy’s accounts, said of Frogmore Cottage: “The property had not been the subject of work for some years and had already been earmarked for renovation in line with our responsibility to maintain the condition of the occupied royal palaces estate.
“The Sovereign Grant covered the work undertaken to turn the building into the official residence and home of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their new family.
“The building was returned to a single residence and outdated infrastructure was replaced to guarantee the long-term future of the property.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.”
Harry and Meghan moved from their Nottingham Cottage home in the grounds of Kensington Palace to Frogmore Cottage, a Grade II listed mid-Victorian building in Home Park near Windsor Castle, ahead of the birth of their son Archie.
A royal source said the major work on the couple’s cottage included replacing defective wooden ceiling beams and floor joists, outdated and inefficient heating systems were updated, the home needed substantial new electrical rewiring, including its own electrical sub-station, and new gas and water mains were installed.
The renovation took around six months and was completed a few months before Harry and Meghan’s son Archie was born on May 6, but some works remain to be completed, such as repainting the exterior.
Frogmore Cottage, which is owned by the Crown Estate, was a gift from Harry’s grandmother, who was kept updated on the work.
The royal source said: “The Queen has been informed of the progress of the project, throughout the project.”
A royal source said an allowance is provided for a new kitchen, bathroom and other features during renovations, up to a certain specification, but if a higher quality is wanted it is paid for privately.
Details have not been given about the fixtures, fittings and furnishings paid for by Harry and Meghan but it appears the couple wanted higher standards for their new home, a mid 19th-century building.
The total Sovereign Grant for 2018-19 was £82.2 million, made up of a core grant of £49.3 million and an extra £32.9 million to help pay for the 10-year £369 million refurbishment project of Buckingham Palace.
The remaining £15.2 million, after paying £67 million for last year’s official royal expenditure, was transferred to the Sovereign Grant reserve to fund future palace work.
The Crown Estate, a multi-billion pound property portfolio that ranges from Regent Street in London’s West End to Ascot Racecourse, published its annual report on Monday showing a record £343.5 million profit for the Treasury coffers during the last financial year.
The total Sovereign Grant is based on a quarter of the profits of the Crown Estate, but allocated two years in arrears, with the 2020-21 grant expected to be set at £85.9 million.
Despite retiring from official public life the Duke of Edinburgh maintains an office with a private secretary and receives £359,000 annuity from the Treasury.
Philip still has an official relationship with hundreds of organisations, charities and bodies and maintains correspondence and communication with them.