Renovations to the UK’s Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s new family house have cost taxpayers roughly £2.4m, new figures revealed on Tuesday.
The Queen’s Frogmore Cottage in Windsor was gifted to Prince Harry and Meghan, but underwent a six-month restoration before the newlywed royals could move house. The cottage had to be reconverted back into a single home after being divided into five separate properties used to shelter royal household staff.
But some were angered by the lofty expenses, with one comparing them to those from a charity for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
"A charity spent £2.4m on a support centre for marines suffering PTSD," Graham Smith of the Republic campaign group said.
— Graham Smith (not that kind of republican) (@GrahamSmith_) June 24, 2019
— Republic (@RepublicStaff) June 25, 2019
"The taxpayers then spent the same amount on a luxury private home for Harry and Meghan," he tweeted with a link to an article on the Royal Marines.
Kevin Maguire, associate editor of the Daily Mirror, called the royal price tag "scandalous" amid the UK's age of austerity where "families are denied council houses and people sleep in streets".
— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) June 25, 2019
But Keeper of the Privy Purse, Sir Michael Stevens, said that the renovations “had not been the subject of work for some years” and had already been flagged for refurbishment “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”, Sir Stevens said.
He added that the building had been returned to a single residence and that “outdated infrastructure” had been replace to “guarantee the long-term future of the property”.
“Substantially all fixtures and fittings were paid for by Their Royal Highnesses,” he added.
— That's So Sussex (@ThatsSoSussex) June 25, 2019
Frogmore Cottage, a 19th-century residence, is owned by the Crown Estate and was a gift from Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. The Sovereign Grant allows a fixed amount for renovations, but the Royal Family must pay more if higher quality is desired. The reports also found that the monarchy had cost taxpayers £67m from 2018 to 2019, up nearly £20m from the last financial year. Much of the expenses were due to restoration work at Buckingham Palace as well as other properties. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married on 19 March 2018 at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, and the two later had a son, Archie, on 6 May.