PRINCE Harry and Meghan Markle want to keep Frogmore cottage refurbished with 2.4m of taxpayers’ cash as their London second home.
Despite announcing they will be quitting the Royal Family, moving to Canada and bidding to be ‘financially independent’ the Sussexes hope to keep the Grade II-listed property.
The couple want to keep Frogmore Cottage as their London residence
In their extraordinary statement the couple said they would use the five-bedroom pad “as their official residence as they continue to support the Monarchy, and so that their family will always have a place to call home in the UK.”
Public money funded the upgrade after Harry and Meghan rejected a home in the grounds of Kensington Palace, saying they wanted a place of their own.
They currently live in the property rent free.
Harry and Meghan also outlined they expect taxpayers to continue to fund their 750,000-a-year royal protection officers as “internationally protected people”.
Harry, Meghan and baby Archie currently have up to six permanent Scotland Yard bodyguards.
Graham Smith, chief executive of the campaign group Republic, slammed the couple for expecting the public to fund their lifestyles while they shun their public duties.
He said: “It’s not just Frogmore Cottage – they’re going to be relying on the Metropolitan Police to provide security.
“And they are going to be relying on their official title to cash in and make a profit on those official titles that they hold.
“I certainly think they owe the taxpayer a refund. They have spent 2.4m on refurbishing their house on the taxpayer.
“It was going to be their home and now they’ve decided to live elsewhere so we need that money back. They need to abandon their claim to that house.”
Former Lib Dem minister Norman Baker, one of hundreds of privy counsellors who advise the Queen, agreed the pair should repay the money.
He said: “The taxpayer has spent millions on Frogmore Cottage for the couple on the understanding that Harry and Meghan intended to be working royals.
“Now they have changed their minds, Harry should repay the money spent on the house to the taxpayer.
“As he is worth at least 20million and probably much more, and Meghan is a millionaire in her own right, they can easily afford to do so.”
HARRY COULD ADD MILLIONS TO 30M FORTUNE
The Sussexes have been prohibited from earning any income in any form – but could now pull in huge sums on the international celebrity circuit.
They look set to earn millions in merchandising deals, public speaking engagements and showbiz roles off the back of their royal status following the announcement.
Harry and Meghan currently benefit from around 2 million per year from Prince Charles’ Duchy of Cornwall income.
The couple said last night five per cent of their office costs come from the Queen’s 82m-a-year funding stream for Royal Family members who carry out official duties.
They also live in the Queen’s Frogmore Cottage – recently renovated by taxpayers at a cost of 2.4m – rent free.
Prince Harry, 35, has an estimated personal fortune of around 30 million.
Prince William and Harry were left around 70m in trust by the Queen Mother and around 15m by Princess Diana.
The Duke, 34, and Duchess, 38, said in their surprise statement: “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution.
“We intend to step back as senior members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.
“It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.”
The couple watching Wheelchair Tennis at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto
The royal couple have just returned from Canada after a six-week holiday over Christmas
Harry and Meghan’s failure to consult other Royals has triggered outrage
The royal couple spent Christmas and New Year in this waterfront home on Vancouver Island