The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who now reside in California, have reportedly been ‘requested to vacate’ their British base, Frogmore Cottage, part of Home Park in Windsor. BBC News reports that the couple’s spokesperson confirmed the development on 1 March.
In an article for Yahoo! News, Omid Scobie, co-author of Prince Harry and Meghan’s biography, Finding Freedom, cites an unnamed source as stating: ‘Harry and Meghan have until early summer to vacate… Initially they were given just weeks, but now they have at least until after the coronation.’ Another ‘friend of the couple’ comments: ‘It all feels very final and like a cruel punishment… It’s like [the family] want to cut them out of the picture for good.’ Although Buckingham Palace has declined to comment, an anonymous ‘royal source’ told Scobie: ‘I think the King is just fed up with the entire situation.’ Scobie adds that ‘with the Sussexes still unable to access royal police protection when in the UK’, the property is the ‘one remaining space that meets the family of four’s security needs when visiting’. He raises the issue in reference to a drawn-out legal dispute over whether Prince Harry is entitled to pay for his own police protection when visiting the UK. Scobie maintains that that ‘just five minutes’ walk from Windsor Castle and ensconced within the Metropolitan Police-led ring of steel surrounding the Windsor Estate, the couple’s British home has become Prince Harry, Meghan, Archie and Lilibet’s only sufficiently secure refuge in the country since their access to armed police protection was taken away in 2020.’
The news comes following reports that the couple’s former UK home may have been offered to Prince Andrew, King Charles III’s younger brother, following reports that he may be asked to leave his current residence, Royal Lodge. The Sun alleged that Prince Harry and Meghan were issued with an eviction notice from Buckingham Palace. The Palace has not so far commented, and the BBC adds that it is thought such arrangements will be treated as a private family matter.
Owned by the Crown Estate, the Grade-II listed, 10-bedroom house in the grounds of Windsor Castle was gifted to the duke and duchess by the late Queen Elizabeth II. They refurbished Frogmore Cottage at an estimated cost of £2.4 million between 2018 and 2019. Initially funded by the taxpayer, the sum was later repaid in full by Prince Harry following news of the couple’s departure from official royal life.
After their move to the US, where they now reside in star-studded Montecito, Santa Barbara, they retained ownership of the cottage as their UK base, staying there last summer while visiting the country for the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. It was there that they spent their daughter Lilibet’s first birthday, later releasing a portrait of the toddler captured by their friend, photographer Misan Harriman, in the garden of the property.
They were reportedly asked to vacate by Buckingham Palace in January, shortly after the release of the duke’s divisive memoir, Spare. The bombshell tome, said to have become the fastest-selling non-fiction book of all time, includes accounts of tense altercations between Harry and his brother, Prince William, as well as claims that the brothers asked their father not to marry Camilla Parker Bowles, now the Queen Consort.
It was reported last month (although the information has not been confirmed by the BBC), that the Duke of York could be asked to leave his current Windsor home as King Charles III reviews distribution of royal funds. It is thought that the maintenance costs for the 31-bedroom Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park, where Andrew resides with his ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, will be too expensive for the duke to cover if his older brother cuts his funding.
Andrew stepped back from official royal life in 2019, following his poorly received Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis (in which the royal sought to address his former association with disgraced financier and convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein). Last year, the duke paid an undisclosed sum to settle a civil sexual assault case brought against him by one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre (née Roberts), in the US. Andrew has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Since giving up his life as a working royal, the duke has been supported by funds from the Duchy of Lancaster, the King’s private estate. The Mail on Sunday and The Sun on Sunday have both claimed, however, that members of the Royal Family have been told to expect less money from the Duchy in the future. Andrew’s only other known annual income is his pension from the Royal Navy.
Originally published on Tatler.com
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