Buckingham Palace has released a statement after it emerged that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have submitted a retrospective planning application for the garden of their home, Frogmore Cottage. A letter from Harry and Meghan's project manager to the local council showed the royals' wish to keep their plans private for "national security," but the letter came to light after it was published by Mail Online.
A spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace has since responded, saying that the language used – in other words Harry and Meghan's request for privacy – is "standard" for royal residences. The spokeswoman said: "The letter that was submitted to the council, and the language that was used, is standard for planning applications for all royal residences. In keeping with the usual process, the details are not released for security reasons." The spokeswoman also confirmed: "This was an amendment to a planning application which was previously approved. The work was privately funded."
Harry and Meghan have privately funded changes to their garden
Recent royal accounts revealed that £2.4m was spent on Harry and Meghan's grade II listed home near Windsor Castle, turning five properties back into a single residence for the couple and their baby son Archie. The amount was criticised by some UK taxpayers, however, the palace noted that all fixtures and fittings for Frogmore Cottage were paid for privately by Harry and Meghan. As per Buckingham Palace's statement, the couple are also funding their own renovation plans for their garden.
The letter that was published by Mail Online was written by project manager Ian Ratcliffe and sent to a council manager at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council. Mr Ratcliffe wrote: "We consider that national security could be compromised if public access is given to the plans, other drawings and documents relating to this project, either in the offices of this council or on the council website where they could be viewed and copied."
The couple live at Frogmore Cottage with their baby son Archie
Under planning law, a retrospective planning application is needed if a change is made that requires planning permission. If it is refused the local authority can issue an enforcement notice requiring the changes to be reversed. But it is likely the team carrying out the work on Harry and Meghan's home have been keeping the local authority aware of any changes and the application is a formality.
Make sure you never miss a ROYAL story! Sign up to our newsletter to get all of our celebrity, royal and lifestyle news delivered directly to your inbox.