The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced last fall that they would be making Frogmore Cottage their permanent home. The scandal at the time was why they didn’t want to live in an apartment in Kensington Palace, but I’m still not completely sure they were even offered a KP apartment. I think they were given a handful of choices and Frogmore was on the list. They knew going into the decision that Frogmore would need months of renovation, because it was basically a derelict little cottage which hadn’t been touched in many years, and the last time it was in use, it had been split up into a “dorm” style living space. Because Frogmore Cottage is part of the Windsor Castle property, it’s a “publicly owned” property, meaning taxpayer funds go into the rehab, just as taxpayer funds go into the renovations at Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, etc. All of which to say, some numbers and data involved with the Frogmore reno have been released and guess what? None of it ever involved a “yoga studio” with a “floating floor” or whatever else they said to bash Meghan.
While the British taxpayer has paid for the overall renovation costs through the Queen’s annual Sovereign Grant, Buckingham Palace figures released Monday show it cost the public around $3 million. However, “anything moveable” or in the cottage gardens has been paid for by Harry and Meghan themselves “All fixtures and fittings were paid for by their Royal Highnesses,” adds the source. “Curtains, furnishings — all that would be paid separately, paid privately.”
At the same time, Harry and Meghan have also had to dip into their pockets for anything deemed too expensive for the public to provide — such as an upgraded kitchen, bathroom, fitted wardrobes or flooring. “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,” adds the source. “If they want that higher specification, they have to pay the extra.”
Contrary to previous reports, this does not include a yoga studio, or mother-and-baby yoga room complete with a “floating” or sprung wooden floor.
As with all old homes, Frogmore had enough of its own surprises to keep the royal couple on their toes. “A very large proportion of the ceiling beams and floor joists were defective and had to be replaced,” adds the source about the mid-1800s cottage, which was turned from a single home into five small dormitory-style units long before Harry and Meghan set eyes on it. “The heating systems were outdated and inefficient and were not to the environmental standards that we would expect today,” the source adds. “The electrical system also needed to be substantially replaced and rewired, even extending to the establishment of a separate upgraded electrical substation, which was in addition to the main works on the property. And new gas and water mains had to be introduced to the property, replacing the five separate links that were there for the property before and were in a bad state of repair. Overall, the works were conducted over a period of around six months.”
While the $3 million construction costs may seem high for a newlywed’s first pad, it’s all part of the wider $55 million spent by the Queen to conserve the royal palaces over the past 12 months. This conservation work is largely funded by an annual $63 million Sovereign Grant given to the Queen by the U.K. Government to maintain the royal palaces on behalf of the nation — a role that she and the rest of the royal family take extremely seriously.
“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,” Sir Michael Stevens, Keeper of the Privy Purse told reporters at Buckingham Palace on Monday. “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.”
To compare, the Kensington Palace Apartment 1 renovation was mostly picked up by the Sovereign Grant as well, and for the furnishings and extras (Kate repainting purple walls, adding a second kitchen), Prince Charles picked up the cost. I imagine Charles “helped” with the extras for Frogmore too. As for the $3 million figure… it doesn’t shock me given the state of Frogmore at the start of it, and it sounds like nearly everything had to be rebuilt. Anyway, as I said before, the stories about the royals’ renovating their properties always sounds excessive, but… you know, the Cambridges spent more on bigger homes.
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