Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's move to Frogmore Cottage expected to cost taxpayers $6.4 million in first year alone
The substantial cost stems from poor security arrangements at the cottage, with renovations and refittings to be covered by the taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant
The news that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are moving out of Windsor Castle was accompanied by rumors that the couple's decision came because Meghan's relationship with Kate Middleton was strained. Now it's emerged that the move could cost taxpayers a hefty £5 million ($6.4 million) as their new home at the 19th Century Frogmore Cottage does not satisfy the necessary security protocols.
According to the Mirror, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are planning on renovating the cottage before they move in next year. The final plans for the property are being kept closely guarded but are said to include refitting the property, the construction of a panic room, and annexes for private protection officers.
Speaking to the tabloid about the move, former royal protection officer Ken Wharfe said, "The costs of building and security arrangements could balloon to £5 million in the first year. There is no protection at Frogmore, there is no one living there. There are costs of at least two or three private protection officers and to make sure the estate is policed adequately by Thames Valley Police."
He continued, "It’ll be a dramatic rise to the taxpayer. Thames Valley is no different from any other service that has seen cuts of 20-25%. This will be a tremendous strain on their budget. It’s a mammoth task. The costs of fitting and maintaining security equipment, with further officers in the area, could cost further millions each year."
A Kensington Palace spokesman confirmed that the costs of any substantial building work would be covered by the Sovereign Grant, which is ultimately funded by the taxpayer. However, Harry and Meghan will still foot the bill for any decorative work done.
The significant costs stem from the fact that the five-bedroom cottage is just 200 meters from the publicly accessible Long Walk and is separated from public roads in many places by just a six-foot wall. The Thames Valley Force, Met Police, and Kensington Palace are said to be engaged in talks over security already.
The Daily Mail reports that the planning application for Frogmore Cottage has been lodged with the council, with a "special note" on the application stating it contains "sensitive information". A note on the file reads, "The application contains sensitive information and therefore the public register is not accompanied by any forms, drawings or supporting documents. The application will be advertised in the usual way but there is no additional information that is publicly disclosable."
It is rumored that Harry and Meghan, who currently stay at the two-bedroom Nottingham Cottage, intend to transform Frogmore into a five-bedroom family home that includes space for a nursery and a live-in nanny. Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, is expected to move in and be a "hands-on" grandmother to the couple's child who will be born sometime in April.
Officials from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead have reportedly approved the planning application concerning the refitting of the cottage. A further application that was submitted in light of the announcement of Meghan's pregnancy in October is yet to be approved, however.