LONDON — Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, have been asked to give up the royal residence gifted for their use by Queen Elizabeth II.
It was not clear exactly why the couple were being asked now to let go of the five-bedroom house in Windsor. But the request comes ahead of the May coronation of Harry’s father, King Charles III — and ahead of a major government review of royal household finances. Frogmore Cottage is part of the Crown Estate, meaning it is technically owned by the monarch.
In a “world exclusive” on Frogxit, the Sun tabloid, citing unnamed sources, said the home had been offered to Prince Andrew, who has been living at a larger royal property in Windsor. The tabloid also said the king plans to ax his younger brother’s royal allowance. Andrew’s spokesman did not respond to The Washington Post’s emailed questions. Buckingham Palace also declined to comment.
As a practical, day-to-day matter, giving up Frogmore may not matter much to Harry and Meghan. Now that they are no longer “working royals,” their home base is in California, and although they have continued to stay at the house during their visits to Britain, those trips have been infrequent.
But Harry has said publicly that he wants to repair the strained relations with his family — even as his memoir leaked private conversations and publicized family quarrels. This eviction may throw into further doubt that he will be welcomed back into the fold.
It is unclear if Harry and Meghan will come to Britain in May for the coronation, and if so, where they would stay.
Harry is suing the British government over his security arrangements when in the country. Although he travels with his own security, he wants to pay for specially-trained British police officers, who have access to U.K. intelligence. The government, meanwhile, has resisted setting a precedent where individuals can pay for police.
In his memoir “Spare,” Harry recounts asking his grandmother, the queen, to help after he and Meghan found their quarters at Nottingham Cottage in London too small. The queen recommended Frogmore, which she said was lovely but at the time “a bit of a building site.” Harry described it as “charming, full of potential” and told the queen it was a “dream come true.”
He and Meghan launched a renovation of the property — and created a public controversy with their use of $3.2 million of taxpayer money. They repaid that money after they announced they were quitting their jobs as working royals in January 2020.
Frogmore would be a downgrade in living arrangements for Andrew, if he were to move in.
Andrew was cast into the royal wilderness last year, in the midst of a lawsuit filed by an American who said she was forced to have sexual encounters with him when she was a teenager. Andrew denies any wrongdoing but settled the lawsuit. The queen also took away his titles and patronages.
But he stayed on at Royal Lodge, a sprawling house three miles from Windsor Castle. He has lived there since 2004, along with Sarah Ferguson, although the couple are divorced. The queen’s corgis have lived there, too, since her death in September.
In “Spare,” Harry describes Royal Lodge as having “one foot in another world” with “dizzyingly high ceilings” and a “pebbled driveway winding serenely through vivid gardens.”
The Sun tabloid reported that the king is set to cut Andrew’s “annual £249,000 grant, leaving him unable to afford” the running costs of Royal Lodge. The paper said Andrew was resisting the move from the 31-bedroom lodge to the five-bedroom cottage.
Charles has long signaled that he wants to slim down the monarchy, and people have been watching to see whether that translates to more modest lifestyles for the royal family.
The British government is also in the midst of an assessment — done every five years — of the formula for the taxpayer-funded “Sovereign Grant.” That money is used to cover the operating costs of the royal household, including staff salaries, palace renovations and travel. Any changes to the formula are expected to come into effect next month.