Prince Andrew is said to be resisting the ‘down-grade’ from his state-subsidised 30-room Royal Lodge in Windsor despite telling friends he fears he will be unable to afford its upkeep if the King cuts the purse strings.
The Duke of York is set to lose £250,000-a-year in funding from the King as part of a shake-up of private royal finances with the monarch offering him the keys to Frogmore Cottage after evicting Harry and Meghan.
Andrew currently pays a reported £250-a-week for a state-subsidised 30-room mansion complete with 98 acres of land and a swimming pool – and is not keen to leave it when his £250,000-a-year grant may be axed from as early as April.
As friends of the Sussexes branded the decision to force them out of Frogmore Cottage as ‘cruel’, the latest salvo in the royal drama escalated tensions within the family ahead of Charles’s coronation in May.
The Telegraph reports that by evicting Harry and his wife, the King’s son may no longer be eligible to serve as a Counsellor of State, which requires Harry to be ‘domiciled’ in the UK. But with no British address from the summer, and no alternative to Frogmore offered, Harry may now be completely sidelined.
King Charles is taking a hard line on his brother Andrew by kicking him out of his home and cutting his annual grant
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are seen in the kitchen at Frogmore Cottage, which they have been asked to clear of their belongings
Frogmore Cottage is not said to appeal to Andrew, who prefers his current larger home
The King moved to evict Harry and Meghan from their Windsor home just 24 hours after the release of the prince’s score-settling memoir Spare.
It is understood Prince Andrew has been offered the keys to their five-bedroom home, a stone’s throw from Windsor Castle.
Harry and Meghan, pictured in 2018, are said to be very hurt by the eviction
But he is said to be resisting the ‘downgrade’ from 30-room, seven-bedroom Royal Lodge.
The Sussexes are believed to have not been offered an alternative property on any royal estate. A spokesman for the couple in the US last night confirmed that they had been asked to move out.
They said in a statement: ‘We can confirm the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been requested to vacate their residence at Frogmore Cottage.’
Sources claimed they had no idea that Frogmore was offered to Andrew until it appeared in the papers.
Buckingham Palace refused to comment last night. A source said any discussions would be a ‘private family matter’ – and one insider said the move was about ‘money, not malice’.
But sources close to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were quick to hit out. One told the US gossip website Page Six that Charles began the eviction process on January 11, a day after Harry’s book Spare – which contained a string of highly-revelatory claims about the Royal Family – hit the bookshelves. Omid Scobie, Harry and Meghan’s biographer, described it as a ‘crushing blow’ to the couple, who have been told little detail apart from the fact that the property is needed for ‘someone else’.
He quoted a ‘friend’ as saying: ‘It all feels very final and like a cruel punishment. It’s like [the family] want to cut them out of the picture for good.’
The Duke of York reportedly told friends he is unlikely to be able to maintain upkeep of his Windsor home (pictured) without receiving hundreds of thousands of pounds every year from the King
Mr Scobie described the Sussexes as being ‘stunned’ by the King’s decision and claimed that two other members of the Royal Family are ‘appalled’.
Harry is known to be particularly close to his cousins, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, who would, of course, have their own views on whether their father should be made to leave Royal Lodge.
Mr Scobie, who has previously been described as the Sussexes’ unofficial spokesman, said the couple were initially given just weeks to leave but now have until ‘early summer’ to vacate.
‘Now they have at least until after the coronation,’ a source told him.
The Sun newspaper also quoted an insider as saying: ‘This surely spells the end of Harry and Meghan’s time in the UK.’
The Sussexes were given use of Frogmore Cottage in 2018 by the late Queen after complaining that their existing home, Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace, was too small and not private enough.
Frogmore Cottage was originally five, run-down staff residences but was knocked back into one large residence with a private garden using £2.4million in taxpayers’ money. The couple themselves paid for anything over and above basic fixtures and fittings.
But they spent just six months in the house before moving to North America, first to Canada and then California, where they have bought an £11million mansion in Montecito.
Despite several public statements from Harry that he now sees his future in the US, he and Meghan decided to reimburse the Crown Estate for the cost of renovations in a deal which included leasing Frogmore Cottage for several years. The couple said it would mean ‘their family would always have a place to call home in the United Kingdom’ as they pursued lucrative commercial deals abroad.
But their decision to launch a string of bitter and highly damaging tirades against the Royal Family, first in a series of interviews and then in their Netflix series and Harry’s book, has left their relationship with their relatives at rock bottom.
His father and brother have not spoken to him for months, while many of Harry’s friends have also disowned him. As a result the couple have only used Frogmore a handful of times, including for a few days during the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and when she died in September.
There was also a whistlestop visit last spring, while Harry stayed there when he returned for Prince Philip’s funeral and the unveiling of a statue in memory of his mother in 2021. It was briefly lent to Princess Eugenie and her family, but she then moved to Portugal with her family. It has otherwise lain empty.
The couple – who were just three years into their ongoing lease – are said to be drawing up plans to ship the rest of their belongings over to California and have requested items including an ornate ottoman bench and a chaise longue, according to The Sun.
In an interview last year, Meghan told US website The Cut that when she returned to the UK last year she re-discovered a journal she had kept during her time as a working royal, sparking fears that she, too, may be planning to bring out a memoir like her husband as part of a multi-book publishing deal.
Harry is currently pursuing legal action against the Home Office over its decision to stop his Scotland Yard security detail now he is no longer a working member of the Royal Family. He claims that it is unsafe for him to bring his family to the UK without it.
The fact that he no longer has a permanent home in this country is likely to further muddy the waters.
Sources have said the King does not want to make his youngest son an outcast, but is ‘concerned’ about the royal family’s finances and is keen to cut costs where he can.
The Frogmore plan is part of a wholesale internal review to better balance the books.
Charles is also well aware of how bad it looks for the Royal Family to have his disgraced brother, Andrew, rattling around Royal Lodge with his ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, despite being forced to step down from royal duties over the Epstein scandal.
The King also knows that Frogmore needs a new tenant now Harry and Meghan’s initial promises to return to the UK regularly have dried up amid continuing friction with the family.
Royal Lodge could become a long-term home for the Prince and Princess of Wales, who recently moved to Windsor and are living in ‘cosy’ four-bedroom Adelaide Cottage with their three children George, Charlotte and Louis.
Despite the news, Harry and Meghan were seen out together for the first time in months as they visited Hollywood hotspot San Vicente Bungalows, a top private club and restaurant in Los Angeles for A-list actors, music stars and studio executives on Tuesday night.