The Duke of Sussex has paid back £2.4m of taxpayers’ money used to renovate Frogmore Cottage, his spokesperson has said.
In January, they announced that they were stepping back from their senior roles in the royal family and planned to split their time between the UK and North America, the continent of Meghan’s birth. They recently bought a home in Montecito, near Santa Barbara in California.
As part of Harry and Meghan’s change of role they said they would work to become financially independent and repay the Frogmore Cottage costs. It is understood they have been able to make the payment now because of their recently signed multimillion-pound Netflix deal.
Harry’s spokesman said: “A contribution has been made to the sovereign grant [the source of funding to the royal family] by the Duke of Sussex.
“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.”
The value of the Netflix deal has not been disclosed but it is a multiple-year agreement to make TV series, films and children’s shows. Harry and Meghan have set up a production company.
The taxpayer’s bill for Frogmore Cottage, an 18th-century Grade II listed house, close to Windsor Castle, included work to convert the five apartments in the building back into one single dwelling.
Work included removing and replacing defective ceiling beams and floor joists, upgrading the heating and electrical systems, and installing new gas and water mains. The work took six months, and was completed a few months before Archie was born on 6 May last year.
The cottage became the couple’s official residence after they left Kensington Palace to set up their own royal household.
Graham Smith, of Republic, which campaigns for the replacement of the monarchy with an elected head of state, said: “Harry should have paid this bill from the outset, rather than expecting the taxpayer to stump up the cash.
“They’ve now paid for the refurbishment while continuing to use the home whenever they stay in the UK.
“Their statement claims the cottage is the Queen’s property, which is untrue.
“It belongs to the Crown Estate, which is there to raise revenue for the Treasury, so we have a right to know what rent they are paying for the place.”
Questions have been raised as to how much time Harry and Meghan intend to spend in the UK. Some key live-in staff at Frogmore Cottage were moved to other duties within the Queen’s household earlier this year.
The couple initially looked to run their independent operations under the brand Sussex Royal but subsequently agreed a deal with the royal family under which they had to ditch the name, stop using the HRH titles and give up public funding.
Smith said: “Harry and Meghan have ended their active involvement in royal duties and now live in the US, yet still expect the British taxpayer to provide them with luxury accommodation, always available for whenever they choose to visit.
“Perhaps they should get a loyalty card with Travelodge and save the taxpayer more wasted money.”
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