The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have paid £250 000 (R4.3 million) towards the refurbishment of their new home – on top of £2.4 million from taxpayers.
The couple are understood to have spent their money on fixtures and fittings at Frogmore Cottage, including "fine furnishings" for a kitchen, living room and nursery for baby Archie, while the cost to the public purse may hit £3m.
Royal officials in charge of the project at Windsor, which involved knocking five separate houses into one larger residence for the couple, set Harry and Meghan a strict budget for the works, which included basic kitchens, bathrooms, floors and wardrobes. If the couple wanted more upmarket or bespoke items, they were asked to pay for them
Sources have revealed work is continuing over the British summer, including exterior painting and landscaping, the installation of security lights and the planting of £20 000-worth of fast-growing shrubs and trees to seclude the cottage. Plans are being discussed for a badminton or tennis court.
It means that the final bill for the renovations is expected to reach between £2.8m and £3.2m, including Harry and Meghan’s contribution.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment, but the bill for taxpayers has attracted widespread criticism, with calls for a parliamentary review into royal finances. Former transport secretary Lord Adonis said: "It is disappointing to see royal spending rise so sharply when school budgets are being cut and austerity remains the norm for most public services.
"I hugely admire the Queen, but the Royal Family should lead by example... the big increase in royal spending would otherwise go to public services like education."
Harry and Meghan moved from Kensington Palace to Frogmore Cottage, on the Queen’s Windsor estate, in March amid reports of a rift with their neighbours, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Taxpayers are also understood to be paying a £750 000 bill for security. Retired Chief Superintendent Dai Davies, a former head of royalty protection, said the Sussexes’ decision to quit Kensington Palace has resulted in a sizeable bill for new provisions.
More than 20 officers from the Met Police and the Thames Valley force will be required to guard Frogmore Cottage.
Davies said: "Many might question the wisdom of moving out of a perfectly adequately guarded royal residence."Daily Mail