Meghan Markle and Prince Harry could be due a ‘refund’ after being evicted from Frogmore Cottage after spending £2.4m on renovations and apparently paying rent up front.
King Charles issued a notice to the Sussex family that they would need to vacate the five-bedroom mansion on Tuesday in a dramatic move said to have been prompted by repeated criticism in Queen Consort Camilla in the duke’s memoir, Spear.
The decision was supported by his wife and, as is understood, the Prince and Princess of Wales.
However, it has now raised questions as to whether the Crown Estate, which leases Frogmore to the Sussexes, might in fact end up in debt to the couple.
Queen Elizabeth granted the Sussexes the use of Frogmore Cottage in 2018 amid the explosive row with William and Catherine.
King Charles (left) has issued a notice to the Sussex family (right, in Frogmore) that they will need to vacate the five-bedroom mansion on Tuesday
It was originally five run-down staff quarters, but was restored to a large house with a private garden initially using £2.4 million of taxpayers’ money. The couple themselves paid for nothing more than the basic fixtures and fittings.
At the time, the couple was said to be “relieved and happy” to return taxpayer money for the renovations.
They are “very relieved and happy that they were able to pay off the debt so quickly,” a source close to them told Vanity Fair reporter Katie Nicholl.
This was a proactive move and something they wanted to do from the start.
There was no condition [from the Queen] For them to return the money but it was important for them to do so and after the Netflix deal they are in a position to do so. I think this is an important moment for them.
The source added, “They are now in their forever home, it is the start of their new life and they are very much looking forward to everything that is about to happen.”
However, they only spent six months at home before moving to North America, first to Canada and then to California, where they bought an £11 million mansion in Montecito.
Despite several public statements from Harry that he now sees his future in the US, he and Meghan decided to pay back the cost of renovations to the Crown Estate in a deal that included leasing Frogmore Cottage for an indefinite number of years.
The couple claimed this meant their “family always had a place to call home in the UK” while they pursued lucrative business deals abroad.
More importantly, the Sussex also felt that reimbursement of any public money spent on Frogmore would deflect ongoing cash.
Last year, royal officials confirmed that Harry and Meghan were completely “financially independent” and said the couple’s decision to reinstate the £2.4m payment on Frogmore was a “good deal” for taxpayers.
According to the palace’s annual accounts, the total amount they transferred to cover the renovation of the former matrimonial home on the Queen’s estate also included future undisclosed rental costs.
Harry and Meghan were given use of Frogmore Cottage when they married in 2018 by the late Queen
King Charles reportedly decided to evict Harry and Meghan from Frogmore Cottage over repeated criticism of his son Queen Consort Camilla
The couple were also said to fund the general upkeep of their former home, such as upkeep of the garden, with the taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant acting as ‘landlord’, and to undertake more major work, such as anything that needed to be done to the exterior of the Grade II listed property.
A senior royal source said the rent was calculated independently and based on market values.
They added, “I can be confident in saying that this is a good deal for the Sovereign Grant and taxpayers alike.”
But if the Sussexes had paid several years of rent in advance, the abrupt termination of the lease raised questions in royal circles as to whether he would owe them any money.
The couple agreed to pay up front in anticipation of returning to the UK regularly despite settling down in California to see family and friends.
But the breakdown of their relationships with senior members of the royal family has meant they have rarely returned in the past three years.
And the decision to end the lease, whether they like it or not, may cause an aggressive reaction. It was reported that “a series of messages” had been passing between the Sussexes team and the minors in recent weeks.
Roya Nikah, royal editor for The Sunday Times, insisted the couple should expect to at least repay some of the money they spent on Frogmore.
“I’m sure that would have been something that would have been considered at the bean counters at Buckingham Palace,” she said in an interview with True Royalty TV’s The Royal Beat.
I don’t think Buckingham Palace would give them notice and evict them and not recognize the fact that there is a certain period left to run under the lease.
Harry and Meghan renewed their lease last year, and I’m sure they’ll be looking forward to getting that money back.
The house has already been offered to Prince Andrew, who is said to be resisting pressure to ‘downsize’ the seven-bedroom Royal Lodge.
I don’t think that would be a problem – it’s more about the optics. Interestingly enough, the King and Buckingham Palace would have known how visually that could have happened.
This kind of means that the King doesn’t care about the optics of this decision. It’s his decision. He makes it and he did it.
Speaking in January to Anderson Cooper, host of the US TV news program 60 Minutes, Harry said Camilla’s willingness to forge ties with the British press makes her “dangerous” and there will still be “bodies in the street because of it”.
He also referred to her as “the bad guy” in television interviews.
Sources told The Mail the king found the breakdown of his relationship with his youngest son “extremely painful”.
The decision to ask the couple to vacate their home at Windsor was apparently also a difficult one for the King, particularly as he was careful not to add fuel to the fire of their ongoing rift.
Discussing the decision to start the process, a source said, “It just felt like it would be like tearing up a Band-Aid.” Painful, but once it’s done, it’s done.
The home has already been offered to Prince Andrew who is said to be resisting pressure to ‘downsize’ the seven-bedroom Royal Lodge.
It is understood that the monarch is particularly keen to resolve the many remaining troubling issues around Harry, Meghan and Andrew ahead of his coronation that have been allowed to “linger” for far too long.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the decision to ask the Sussexes to pack their remaining belongings from their five-bedroom cottage in Windsor by early summer.
It is understood they were initially asked to resign when their lease renewal was due next month, but implementation has been put on hold.
However, a spokesperson for the couple notably went on record this week to confirm that they have been “asked to vacate their residence at Frogmore Cottage” – a sign of their shock and anger at the move.
The latest development in the ongoing Windsor War suggests that there are more doubts about their appearance at the King’s coronation on 6 May.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment.
Source: | This article originally belonged to Dailymail.co.uk