Prince Harry and Meghan Markle spent some serious coin on their fixer-upper (read: royal rustic mansion). If you recall, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex moved out of Kensington Palace and into Frogmore Cottage in April 2019. The cottage, which was a five-unit building, was turned into a single-family residence. I imagine, for the royal family, that is no easy or cheap task. So, how much did Meghan and Harry's home renovation cost? A little over $3 million of taxpayers money. Now, before your eyes glaze over, let me break down what this looks like for British taxpayers.
According to the royal family's annual financial report released Tuesday, June 25, taxpayers contribute to the Sovereign Grant. This is public funding to "support the official duties of The Queen and maintain the Occupied Royal Palaces." I'm assuming the latter includes renovations to Frogmore Cottage in addition to the dedicated amount of £32.9 million ($42 million) for the 10-year "Reservicing of Buckingham Palace."
The total funding for 2018-2019, including Reservicing funds, totaled £82.2 million, which is $104.5 million. This amount seems large, but equals to a mere £1.24 ($1.58) per person in the UK. So that $3 million Meghan and Harry spent were like, nickels and dimes, right? And, they were just making ample room to provide for their growing family. Totally acceptable.
According to a spokesperson, Harry and Meghan did not use the grant for "fixtures, fittings, and furnishings." In fact, the grant can only cover so much. Fancy furnishings are paid for privately by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. In speaking to People, a source explained: “If a member of the royal family says, ‘We want a better kitchen than you’re prepared to provide with public money,’ then that would fall to them privately and they would have to meet the cost. If they want that higher specification, they have to pay the extra.”
Contrary to popular belief, the Windsor residence does not include a yoga studio, or mother-and-baby yoga room equipped with a “floating” wooden floor.
The financial report also provides a little glimpse into the posh life of the royals, breaking down just how much they spent last year on expenses including £37.8 million ($47.9 million) on property maintenance, £4.6 million ($5.8 million) on travel, £2.3 million ($2.9 million) on housekeeping and hospitality, and £2.9 million ($3.6 million) on utilities. Whoa, what a life.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex aren't alone in drawing some side-eyes for the costly upgrade they've made to their humble abode. According to royals commentator Omid Scobie, Kate Middleton and Prince William were also under scrutiny for spending around 4.5 million ($5.73 million) to renovate their Kensington Palace apartment.
"No doubt UK headlines will centre around the £2.4m/$3.55m spent restoring Harry and Meghan’s Frogmore Cottage (a gift from the Queen) from five apartments back into a home. In 2014 William and Kate were also scrutinised for the £4.5m/$5.73m spent renovating Apartment 1A at KP," Scobie wrote on Twitter.
While the financial spending report numbers sound super high, I know if I were British I'd sleep well at night knowing a mere $1.58 is all it takes to support my queen. All hail the queen!