Renovations at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s cost the taxpayer £2.4 million, according royal accounts published last year - and with the couple's latest dramatic revelation that they are steping back from public duty, fans are asking whether they will continue to live at the Windsor home they currently share.
WATCH: Meghan and Harry back at work after their Christmas break
The pair announced their decision to step back from royal duties on Wednesday. In a lengthy statement posted to Instagram, Harry and Meghan, who have just returned from their six-week break in Canada, revealed they plan to become financially independent and will split their time between the UK and North America in future. The couple wrote: "After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution.
"We intend to step back as 'senior' members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment."
Frogmore House was converted from five separate apartments into an official residence for Prince Harry and Meghan and their newborn son Archie last year, with the majority of the work completed in the month before he was born. Significant structural work to restore the Grade II-listed property to a single home over a period of six months was covered by the Sovereign Grant, which funds the Queen and her family’s official activities.
The couple paid for fixtures and fittings privately. Sir Michael Stevens, Keeper of the Privy Purse, who is responsible for royal accounts, said "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."
Frogmore Cottage has cost the taxpayer £2.4 million
"The building was returned to a single residence and outdated infrastructure was replaced to guarantee the long-term future of the property.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." A royal source said that major works included replacing and relocating defective ceiling beams and floor joists and replacing and rewiring the electrical system, including the installation of an upgraded electrical substation. New gas and water mains also had to be installed. The source added: "The heating systems were outdated and did not meet the environmental standards that we would expect today.”"
Prince Harry and Meghan got most of the renovation work done before Archie's arrival
The Sovereign Grant, which comes from the Treasury and funds the royal family’s official activities provide an allowance for facilities like kitchens and bathrooms, but if members of the royal family require a higher specification than the one on offer, they have to pay the difference themselves. The pair have declared they hope to be financially independent in the future, so the Sovereign Grant will no longer be something they benefit from. Whether the duo opt to remain living in the royal residence however remains to be seen - as do a host of other questions royal watchers are asking after the shock news.
The Queen gave the property, which is owned by the Crown Estate, to Harry and Meghan. A royal source said: "The Queen has been informed of the progress of the project, throughout the project." The cost of renovating Frogmore Cottage was part of a more than £43million spend on property maintenance across occupied royal palaces.
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