Harry and Meghan finally pay back £2.4m used to do up Frogmore Cottage home

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have paid back the £2.4m taxpayers' cash used to do up their Frogmore Cottage home and 18 months' of rent, it has emerged.

The couple have not answered questions over the money after quitting the Grade II listed property and the UK for a lucrative life in the US.

They handed the keys to cousin Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack after their bombshell announcement that they were stepping down as senior royals and will “work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen" last January.

Buckingham Palace's annual financial report has now revealed the couple paid five months rent between April and August 2020 after quitting royal duty.

The Sun reported that they finally handed a further £2.4million a month later – covering the refurbishment and rent up until March 31 next year when their current lease runs out.

The Royal Household's Sovereign Grant Report "includes a £2.4m payment from The Duke and Duchess of Sussex to reimburse the Sovereign Grant for expenditure incurred on the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, most of which was recognised as income in the year", the palace's website says.

Insiders reckon the couple may now give up the cottage completely after moving to their £11million Montecito mansion with their children Archie, two, and one-month-old Lily.

Royal expert Phil Dampier told the Sun: "It wouldn’t surprise me if they didn't renew the lease regardless if Harry makes it up with the Royal Family or not.

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"His life is now in California and I don't see him and Meghan coming back to the UK often."

Buckingham Palace said they believed the payments represented a "good deal for the Sovereign Grant and for the public purse."

The Keeper of the Privy Purse, Sir Michael Stevens, said: “The majority of the year was impacted by the precautions necessary as the impact of Covid-19 set in.

"Plans had to change and Her Majesty’s programme, supported by Her family, had to react.

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"The Royal Family embraced new technology with a virtual meeting with The Princess Royal and the Carers Trust being the first virtual engagement undertaken by Her Majesty.

"More virtual engagements followed as well as a small number of physical engagements and two addresses to the Nation and the knighting of Captain Sir Tom Moore in the quadrangle at Windsor Castle.”

He added: “The dramatic impact of Covid-19 continues to be felt on our ability to generate income to support our expenditure, but we will continue to manage any impacts through our own efforts and efficiencies.

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"We also had to change our way of working to allow the reservicing programme to continue at full capacity and it was pleasing to see our spend increase significantly as key works continued at pace.

"This trend will continue in the current year with a deadline to ensure the Palace is ready to take part in the Jubilee celebrations next Summer.”

The Sussexes have been approached for comment.

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