Details published in the latest Sovereign Grant Report, which outlines the annual spending by the Royal Family, show that the £2.4m payment made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in 2020 did not just reimburse the money they spent on the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage.
Extensive renovations were carried out on the property, which belongs to The Crown Estate, before Harry and Meghan moved in in 2019.
In a previous statement announcing the reimbursement, a spokesperson for the couple said the contribution “fully covered the necessary renovation costs of Frogmore Cottage”.
However, the report shows that the payment also covered rent for the years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022. The couple’s lease on the property is set to expire in March 2022.
The report did not outline how much of the £2.4m figure was made up of rent payments. An unidentified source from Buckingham Palace previously told Reuters rent had been set at a “commercial rate”.
A spokesperson for the Sussexes said: “The duke made a substantial contribution to the Sovereign Grant last year to support necessary and existing refurbishments to Frogmore Cottage, which specifically included essential structural updates to the building.
“As part of this agreement, all tenant obligations are being met. The duke and duchess continue to operate with no money being drawn from the UK taxpayer,” they added.
Harry and Meghan faced significant backlash after they announced their decision to step down as senior members of the royal family, with critics arguing that the money they used for renovations of Frogmore Cottage should be paid back.
At the time, the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which campaigns for a “low-tax society”, said it “would welcome the news of the Sussexes returning the funds used to renovate Frogmore Cottage to the public purse”.
“The royals are granted public money in accordance with their duties. Given Harry and Meghan have chosen to forfeit those duties and live abroad as private citizens, it is only right that they now seek to cover the costs themselves,” the group said.
The annual Sovereign Grant report also showed that the monarchy cost the taxpayer £87.5m during 2020-2021, an increase of £18.1m on the previous year.
Most of this increase was attributed to property maintenance, which rose by £11.2m to £49.5m. Buckingham Palace is currently undergoing a 10-year renovation project, which is expected to cost £369m in total.
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