Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s house renovations branded 'outrageous' following taxpayer spending news

‘If even one school or hospital is facing cuts we cannot justify spending a penny on the royals’

Katie O'Malley@KatieOMalley_
Tuesday 25 June 2019 12:05
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Major renovations at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Windsor home have been dubbed “outrageous” after it emerged that the work cost the taxpayer £2.4m.

On Tuesday, accounts for the Sovereign Grant – which is the payment given to the monarchy by the government to fund official expenses – revealed that the royal family cost UK taxpayers £67m in the last financial year, nearly £20m more than the previous year.

The majority of the increase is due to maintaining royal palaces across the country and updating services at Buckingham Palace.

In response, Graham Smith, from the Republic campaign group, told The Sun: “This year’s increases are outrageous at a time of widespread spending cuts. If even one school or hospital is facing cuts we cannot justify spending a penny on the royals.

“Yet with all public services under intense financial pressure we throw £2.4m at a new house for Harry.”

Mr Smith compared Harry and Meghan’s renovation costs with a charity’s funding of a centre for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“A charity spent £2.4m on a support centre for marines suffering PTSD. The taxpayers then spent the same amount on a luxury private home for Harry and Meghan,” he tweeted, while linking to an article on the construction of a support hub for Royal Marines in Lympstone, Devon.

Mark Delaney, a builder and decorator who is homeless in Windsor, echoed Smith’s thoughts and said the taxpayer cash could have been used for the benefit of those most marginalised.

“That money could have been used to transform the empty buildings in Windsor into places for the homeless to sleep. There are scores of empty rooms in Windsor Castle,” Delaney told the Daily Mirror.

The royal couple moved into Frogmore Cottage, located half a mile south of Windsor Castle, shortly before the birth of their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten Windsor, in May.

Prior to the move, the Grade II listed building was made up of five separate housing units and major renovations were required to turn it into a single home fit for the royal couple.

It took roughly six months to complete and has reportedly been fitted with a mother-and-baby yoga room, a luxury bathroom and kitchen and new flooring.

All new fittings and fixtures have been privately paid for by the couple.

Sir Michael Stevens, who, as Keeper of the Privy Purse is responsible for managing the royal family’s finances, said Frogmore Cottage “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”.

Stevens added: “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. 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.”

Frogmore Cottage sits in the grounds of Frogmore House, where Meghan and Harry held their wedding reception in May 2018.

News of their move was announced in November by Kensington Palace.

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Last week, The Royal Foundation confirmed that Harry and Meghan would formally split from their joint charity with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and set up their own foundation.

Prince William and Kate Middleton will remain with the original charity, which will be renamed the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

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