Before Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born, the UK papers were all reporting that it would be a home birth at Frogmore Cottage. Baby Archie was born at Portland Hospital in London, which tells you how much of an inside track the British tabloids have on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – clearly not much of one.
The big headline about House Sussex today has to do with the renovations at their residence. You’ll recall, British reporters were saying that Meghan had a yoga studio built at Frogmore. Like the home birth, it doesn’t seem like the yoga studio happened. PEOPLE.com is being especially shady about this.
This all comes from the release of Buckingham Palace’s financials. Since the UK papers f-cked it up on the yoga studio, they’re now focusing on how much the reno cost taxpayers. PEOPLE, however, based in the US, has a different read:
The royal couple renovated the interior of the historic home earlier this year in anticipation of the arrival of Archie Harrison. More recently, they’ve attended to the outside of the property, redecorating the exterior doors, windows and walls and upgrading some of the outbuildings — while also re-landscaping the garden and adding some extra garden lighting too.
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.
To make it a suitable family home — and official residence — Frogmore first had to be returned to its original form.
“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.”
The end result is that Harry and Meghan now have a cozy — and very private — home to raise Archie.
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.”
That’s a more reasonable take than the headlines in the UK – but then again, PEOPLE’s targeted readership is American and American tax dollars aren’t going into it. What does it mean for British taxpayers?
The @RoyalFamily has published its 2018-19 financial statement. The Sovereign Grant supports the Queen’s official duties and maintains all occupied royal palaces (including renovating Buckingham Palace). Period total was £82.2m, which is a cost of £1.24/$1.58 per UK taxpayer. https://t.co/yxybjDPEaO— Omid Scobie (@scobie) June 24, 2019
No doubt UK headlines will centre around the £2.4m/$3.55m spent restoring Harry and Meghan’s Frogmore Cottage (a gift from the Queen) from five apartments back into a home. In 2014 William and Kate were also scrutinised for the £4.5m/$5.73m spent renovating Apartment 1A at KP.— Omid Scobie (@scobie) June 24, 2019
Will and Kate were indeed the subject of similar headlines:
This is what happens when royals and money are concerned, with the bigger, thornier issue being “Monarchy: Worth It?” Those who say no would point to how much the royals cost. Those who say yes would point out that the British royal family, and the global fascination with them, brings in more than they cost with people coming in from around the world, a part of all the tourism money going into the UK economy. Figuring out exactly how much of that tourism money is attributable to the Queen and her descendants, however, isn’t an exact science. That said, it’s not that no one ever goes to London and skips Buckingham Palace. More people apparently went to Windsor last year too, perhaps because of the two royal weddings that happened there. So I’m not sure spreadsheets are really going to solve it – it’s more a question of opinion, really.
For all the bitching about the royals that happens in the UK papers though, what would they write about if there was no royal family for them to write about?