Major renovations at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's home in Windsor have been branded "outrageous" after it emerged that the work cost the taxpayer $4.3 million.
Their new residence, Frogmore Cottage, underwent renovations to turn it from five separate properties to a family home for the couple and their baby son, Archie.
Works included the rewiring of electrics, the replacement of ceilings and flooring, along with the addition of new bathrooms, bedrooms and a kitchen.
While officials said fixtures and fittings were ‘substantially’ paid for by Harry and Meghan, the cost to the taxpayer is also likely to increase, given that exterior painting and landscaping still needs to be completed on the Grade II listed property.
Graham Smith, from the Republic campaign group, noted that the money spent on Frogmore Cottage was part of an increase in overall expenditure by the royals.
"This year's increases are outrageous at a time of widespread spending cuts. If even one school or hospital is facing cuts we cannot justify spending a penny on the royals. Yet with all public services under intense financial pressure we throw $4.3 million (£2.4 million) at a new house for Harry," he told The Sun.
Accounts for the Sovereign Grant, which funds the Queen and her household's official expenses, show the monarchy cost the taxpayer $122 million (£67 million) during 2018-19 - an increase of almost $36 million (£20 million) on the previous financial year.
Mark Delaney, 57, a builder and decorator in Windsor, said the taxpayer cash could have been used for the benefit of those most marginalised.
"That money could have been used to transform the empty buildings in Windsor into places for the homeless to sleep. There are scores of empty rooms in Windsor Castle," he told The Daily Mirror.
ITV’s Good Morning Britain also ran a poll on Twitter, asking users whether the taxpayer should pay $4.3 million for the redevelopment of Harry and Meghan's official residence.
Annette responded: “NO!! Our NHS, Police and schools are grossly under funded, families are relying on food banks..the list goes on! Taxpayers funding their renovations is abysmal [sic].”
While Denise Bowie said: “I’m very fond of the young Royal couple and think Harry works very hard ! However, no way should the tax payer foot this bill !! Frogmore is to be their own private home and between them they have more than enough money to fund renovations themselves! [sic]”
In 2014, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were also scrutinised for the $8.2 million spent renovating Apartment 1A at Kensington Palace.
And while taxpayers’ have footed the bill for Meghan and Harry’s home renovations, the figure for the refit of Buckingham Palace last year is considerably higher at $60 million. The ten-year refurbishment project is set to cost $673 million in total.
The Queen received $150 million from the taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant for the last financial year, equating to a cost of $2.26 per person in the UK.
Net expenditure has risen significantly from $86 million in 2017/8 to $122 million because of the extra $27 million for the reservicing of Buckingham Palace.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall also spent the most on travel for 2018-19, racking up $2.3 million in total.
The couple undertook the most expensive overseas tour, spending $759,863 on their tour of the Caribbean and Cuba in March.
Clarence House released a montage of Charles and Camilla’s year, which saw them notch up 638 official engagements.
Words by Danielle Stacey
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