The King’s five-year plan to shake up the firm
The King is carrying out a major shake-up of the monarchy which ultimately means that more members of the royal family will have to fund and fend for themselves, the Evening Standard understands.
The eviction of Prince Harry and Meghan from Frogmore Cottage in Windsor will be “just the start” of his plans to slim it down and modernise, according to sources. Subsidised rents for royals — even for some working royals — will be eradicated over time, with the King expecting them to finance their own homes and “cut their cloth” over the next five years, it is understood.
The news came as the King’s visit to France was delayed after extensive rioting on Thursday night. Senior figures have told the Standard that after the period of transition following the coronation, the King, assisted by Queen Camilla, will move to tackle inefficiencies in what is being viewed as a largely overstaffed and outdated system.
Vice-Admiral Sir Tony Johnstone-Burt, Master of the Household, and the Keeper of the Privy Purse Sir Michael Stevens, responsible for finance, will execute the shake-up of what is described as a “top-heavy royal household”. Camilla has been overseeing the fine detail of the King’s plan to ensure that after the coronation the royal household will be run the “Clarence House way”.
One senior figure said: “It is not about cuts, it is about getting the best value for money from those on the payroll. Sometimes less is more.”
Another source added: “The King is not some sort of housing association for distant relatives.” Harry and Meghan were given use of Frogmore Cottage, a five-bedroom mansion on the Windsor estate in 2018, by the late Queen.
But they spent just six months there before moving to North America and they were issued with an eviction notice from Buckingham Palace days after Harry’s memoir Spare — in which he made a series of claims against the royal family — hit the shelves in January.
However, the couple’s loss of the cottage, their only British home, is said to be just the “tip of the iceberg”.
It is understood Charles is keen to reduce the number of royals with a financial dependence on the crown, especially if they do not have an active role to play. He wants funds from the Duchy of Lancaster, the portfolio of land, property and assets held in trust for the King, and the sovereign grant that covers the cost of royal travel on official engagements, to be spent more effectively. He also wants to pay his staff competitive salaries and pensions so that he gets the best people for the jobs.
“There will be staff cutbacks. That has already started. The buzz phrase is ‘value for money,’” said the source.
Several members of the extended royal family have enjoyed subsidised palace accommodation, with some having apartments that are being used by their children as “London pads”.
The source said: “Over time, that is going to change. Properties will be let at commercial rates going forward and to people outside the family. Where it is in a palace environment they will of course be security vetted.”
Privately, the King’s senior staff have made it clear to members of the extended family that if they cannot afford where they are living, they should “cut their cloth”. “A lot of practices that have evolved during the last reign will be changing. The King is not heartless or reckless, but if the family members are not part of the core family and not working for the crown, it is fair for them to house themselves and fund themselves,” a senior figure said.
The King’s focus, key figures say, is on making the monarchy “fit for purpose” over the next five years. He is working closely with his son and heir, the Prince of Wales, to achieve this.
One insider said: “The staffing has been on the top-heavy side. That has built up over time, with advisers to advisers and so on. That’s all going to stop. The boss wants effective people in effective positions doing effective jobs being paid appropriately.” The senior source added: “Much of what was in place doesn’t make economic sense and will be changed during the new reign.”