Furious taxpayers have today rounded on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and called for them to pay back the £2.4million used to renovate Frogmore Cottage.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance and anti-monarchy website Republic led fierce calls for the couple to reimburse the public, adding it needs to be done with transparency.
The Sussexes took the eye-watering sum from the Sovereign Grant in April last year to fund the massive renovations at their home on the Windsor estate in Berkshire.
In January they pledged to pay it back, but it is unclear when and how they are going to.
The uproar comes after Prince Harry caused outrage on Sunday by suggesting the coronavirus crisis was ‘better than we are led to believe through certain corners of the media’.
Hours later he was widely condemned for a joint letter with his wife to four newspaper groups saying he would never again cooperate with the publications.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance and anti-monarchy website Republic led fierce calls for Harry and Meghan (pictured at Westminster Abbey in March) to reimburse the public, adding it needs to be done with transparency
The couple took the eye-watering sum from the Sovereign Grant in April last year to fund the massive renovations at Frogmore Cottage (pictured in January) on the Windsor estate in Berkshire
Frogmore Cottage was converted from five apartments into their official residence, which required significant structural work and the huge funds from the public purse.
Fixtures and fittings were paid for by Harry and Meghan and Prince Charles helped to finance the project.
It is not the first time the taxpayer has taken the brunt of the couple’s spending.
Their glamorous wedding in May 2018 is believed to have cost the country between £24million-£30million.
A spokesman for the Taxpayers’ Alliance told MailOnline: ‘Taxpayers would welcome the news of the Sussexes returning the funds used to renovate Frogmore Cottage to the public purse.
The huge sums the Sussexes have taken from the taxpayer:
News broke that the couple would take a staggering £2.4million from the Sovereign Grant to pay for updates to the Windsor home in April last year.
The 19th century property was converted into five smaller staff houses and needed to be turned back into a single home.
Ceilings and floors were replaced along with the addition of new bathrooms, bedrooms and a kitchen.
It emerged in January Harry had offered to pay back the public money during the Megxit summit at Sandringham in Norfolk as they finalised their split from the Royal Family.
But it is not clear over what time period or at what rate the couple will pay it.
Harry and Meghan last month agreed to pay for the cost of their security personally – which could see them fork out around £4million a year.
A spokesman for the couple confirmed on March 30 they had decided to meet the burden met by British taxpayers and fund the cost of their protection out of their own pockets after stepping down as senior working royals.
Their security personnel will reportedly consist of former SAS soldiers at a cost of £400 per operative per day.
Support from Charles:
Prince Charles will continue to pay for the upkeep of his son and daughter-in-law for the first 12 months of their new life out of his private funds, not the Duchy of Cornwall.
But it is understood this money will not be used for their protection.
‘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.’
Graham Smith from Republic added: ‘They need to pay the full amount back as soon as possible and with transparency about when that’s done and how.
‘They also need to be paying for their security and thinking about repaying the cost of their wedding.’
Harry sparked fury over the weekend by claiming the UK’s Covid-19 crisis is not as bad as the public are being told.
In an interview with the Declassifed podcast, the 35-year-old said things were ‘better than we are led to believe through certain corners of the media’.
But his comments were branded ‘outrageous’ by expert Professor Karol Sikora, who asked: ‘What are his qualifications for making these comments — other than deserting his country in its hour of need?’
Speaking on the podcast Harry said: ‘I think what has happened especially in the UK is the very best of the human spirit and it’s proving that things are better than we are led to believe through certain corners of the media.
‘Certainly when you’re in isolation it can be very worrying when you’re sitting there and the only information you’re getting is from certain news channels, but then if you’re out and about and you’re on the right platforms you can really sense this human spirit coming to the forefront.’
Prof Sikora, who has led antibody tests and is a former No10 adviser, said he thought the remarks were ‘outrageous’
He added to the Sun: ‘As for the media, I really don’t understand what Harry’s beef is.
‘Journalists have been reporting the facts and have been doing great work in holding the Government to account.
‘The media has also championed the NHS and become a key ally of doctors, nurses and key workers. They should be applauded, not vilified.’
UK taxpayers also vented their fury at the couple – who appear to have turned their back on Britain – on social media over the Frogmore funds.
One man wrote: ‘When’s the bill for Frogmore Cottage being returned to public funds!’
A woman put: ‘Meghan can show kindness by giving back the money for Frogmore cottage & stop us paying for her security!!!!’
A male user posted: ‘Let’s hope they stay in the US and shut up…..after they’ve repaid the £2.5m Frogmore Cottage costs of course.’
And another commented online: ‘UK Taxpayers pay their enormous security bill and paid for Frogmore Cottage!’
Other Britons weighed in on social media after the couple said they will also have ‘zero engagement’ with the four British newspaper groups
Just hours after Harry attacked the media over the coronavirus crisis, the couple faced yet more criticism for saying they will ‘no longer engage’ with the UK’s most popular newspaper titles in a move blasted by the Society of Editors as censorship.
Executive director Ian Murray said the statement was ‘sadly a clear attempt to undermine certain sections of the UK media who often ask uncomfortable questions’.
Royal watchers also condemned the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s ‘narcissistic’ decision to have ‘zero engagement’ with the four British newspaper groups.
How much could Harry and Meghan make in the US?
Harry and Meghan are expected to walk in the footsteps of Barack and Michelle Obama, who agreed a production deal with Netflix to make TV and film projects.
The former Suits actress is likely to be highly sought after by publishing houses who would see dollar signs at the prospect of a revealing memoir.
Recent books written by Mrs Obama and Mrs Clinton topped bestseller lists and were accompanied by tours where they filled venues like rock stars.
Experts have claimed that US TV networks could be willing to pay the Sussexes £38million [$50million] book deals, £20million [$25million] for US TV interviews and £470,000 [$600,000] based on the amounts secured by the Obamas since they left the White House.
As a former lifestyle blogger, another option would be for Meghan to resurrect The Tig blog and become an a-list influencer, perhaps teaming up with brands, signing sponsorship deals, and getting paid in return for posting about brands on her blog and social media.
It is thought that this route may be unlikely as it could be argued that it does not fit in with upholding the values of the Queen.
Another possibility for Meghan would be to return to her role as paralegal Rachel Zane in Suits, which was filmed in Toronto, and would therefore be convenient if the couple settled in the Canadian city.
The show has ended now but executives may be tempted to bring it back if they were to have a duchess among the cast.
The Queen’s former press spokesmen Dickie Arbiter said the couple were ‘wrong’ and Prince Charles’s biographer Tom Bower said they ‘have become their own worst enemies’.
The LA-based Sussexes released the letter to four newspaper groups on Sunday night detailing how their self-imposed ban is a refusal to ‘offer themselves up’.
Their message was sent from an official Sussex Royal email, despite the Queen banning them from using the title and them saying they plan to use Archewell.
They messaged the editors of these popular publications: the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, the Sun and the Daily Express.
Mr Arbiter told MailOnline: ‘I really want to know who is advising them because they are wrong.. unless they are doing it themselves.
‘Not only this, Harry was wrong over the weekend. because 2.4million deaths is bad, 16,000 in the UK is bad.
‘So how he can even suggest it isn’t as bad as what is being said about it is wrong. But then again, he is not the brightest bunny on the planet.’
Mr Bower said: ‘The Sussexes have become their own worst enemies. They clearly cannot stand being irrelevant and ignored.
‘In the midst of a horrendous global crisis causing so much misery all they can think about is themselves.
‘Constantly they push their obsession about their image and their financial income into the spotlight, and then outrageously harangue the public with their problems. Meghan, just understand: No one cares!’
And Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams added: ‘We know the intensity of both Harry and Meghan’s feelings towards the British tabloids, I mean there’s no question about that.
‘The statement they’ve released simply means it is going to be slightly more difficult for journalists to get information.
‘It won’t mean fewer Royal stories because obviously the demand for Royal stories will remain enormous.’
He added: ‘It’s important, I would have thought, and in their interests to have their point of view put across.’
The stark split between the Sussexes and the rest of the Royal Family was amplified by the Duke of Edinburgh’s heartwarming message to key workers yesterday.
Prince Philip, 98, said he wanted to recognise the ‘vital and urgent’ medical and scientific work taking place to battle the deadly virus.
It was a rare public statement from the Royal – who has not been seen since he was hospitalised in December – as he approaches his 99th birthday in June.
In his tribute, published on the royal family’s social media channels, he said: ‘As we approach World Immunisation Week, I wanted to recognise the vital and urgent work being done by so many to tackle the pandemic; by those in the medical and scientific professions, at universities and research institutions, all united in working to protect us from Covid-19.’
Harry and Meghan (pictured with baby Archie in September) will still walk away with an estimated £5.5million a year in Royal funds despite being ‘financially independent’
The Sussexes started married life at Frogmore Cottage – a gift from the Queen – but moved to Canada late last year and on to Los Angeles with their son Archie in March – when they turned their back on the Royal Family.
They are currently understood to be living in rented accommodation near their friend Sir Elton John, but said they want to keep the Windsor cottage so they have a family home in the UK.
Royal officials have previously admitted they have no idea how Harry and Meghan will pay back the £2.4million spent on its refurbishments.
Prince Charles will be supporting the couple for a year from his private funds but it has not been confirmed whether ‘the bank of dad’ will bail them out for Frogmore.
The royal couple’s security bill could cost anywhere up to £4million, and Prince Charles is expected to pay a ‘private contribution’ towards the bill.
A Royal source said: ‘Charles has agreed to pay a ”private contribution” to the Sussexes.
‘It will not be revealed how much and what that is used for, but it is believed to be around £2 million. It would not be a surprise if it went into meeting the bill for security.
‘However, the Prince of Wales does not have an infinite amount of money. The total income from the Duchy of Cornwall is annually around £21million.’
The British public continued to hit out at Harry and Meghan online, with one woman writing: ‘They’ll be back when they want promotion for their next charity.
‘Their sense of entitlement and lack of self awareness is astonishing. Time to invoice them or their guarantor Elton, for Frogmore Cottage.’
One man commented: ‘The amount of money they had spent on Frogmore Cottage & have now moved from the UK?!’
And another added: ‘Have they paid back the cost of upgrading Frogmore Cottage yet?’
The British taxpayer has been calling for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to pay back the money for Frogmore Cottage’s renovations
Earlier this month the Mail revealed Harry and Meghan agreed to pay for the cost of their ‘£4million’ security personally, not using taxpayer funds.
Their personnel will reportedly consist of former SAS soldiers at a cost of £400 per operative per day.
The issue was raised when President Donald Trump tweeted the US taxpayer would not pay for their bill, following their move to Malibu, where they are currently self-isolating with their 11-month-old son Archie.
A Sussex spokesman said this month: ‘Security costs are being personally covered by the couple.’
The development suggests the Sussexes have negotiated a clean break, in which they will receive no public money, only funding from Prince Charles’s personal fortune until they start to earn an income of their own.
A source said: ‘The Prince of Wales supports them privately but the duke and duchess also have their own money. They are paying for this themselves. The duke has been adamant on that.’
Last month Prince Harry and Meghan announced they were launching a new charitable foundation named Archewell.
The couple said they ‘look forward’ to getting started with the foundation, which will replace their Sussex Royal brand after it was banned by the Queen.
The pair have plans to include their own charity as well as a website, as part of their new venture.
Harry and Meghan also revealed the Greek word in the project Arche – meaning source of action – was the inspiration behind the name of their son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.
Further official details about the organisation have been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Telegraph has previously reported that paperwork regarding their new brand was filed in the US last month and the couple are considering how to create their own charity and volunteering services.
Plans also include a wide-ranging website and sharing ‘education and training materials’ via films, podcasts and books, according to the newspaper.
In response to the Telegraph, the duke and duchess said they were focusing their efforts on the coronavirus pandemic but felt ‘compelled’ to reveal details of the venture.
‘Like you, our focus is on supporting efforts to tackle the global Covid-19 pandemic but faced with this information coming to light, we felt compelled to share the story of how this came to be.
‘Before SussexRoyal, came the idea of Arche – the Greek word meaning source of action.
‘We connected to this concept for the charitable organisation we hoped to build one day, and it became the inspiration for our son’s name. To do something of meaning, to do something that matters.
‘Archewell is a name that combines an ancient word for strength and action, and another that evokes the deep resources we each must draw upon.
‘We look forward to launching Archewell when the time is right.’
Buckingham Palace has declined to comment on when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will reimburse the taxpayer.
The couple have been approached for comment.