Prince Charles bankrolled the Duke and Duchess of Sussex by a ‘substantial sum’ in the months following Megxit, despite Harry claiming his family ‘literally cut me off financially’.
Royal accounts made public for the first time yesterday show that the future king continued to fund Harry and Meghan until the summer of last year from a £4.4million Clarence House pot used to support his two sons and their families.
This contradicts Harry’s remarks when he told Oprah Winfrey that he stopped getting financial support from his family in the ‘first quarter’ of last year. He even claimed he and his wife were reduced to living off what ‘my mother had left me’.
What is clear from the independently audited accounts is that Harry and Meghan were still listed as receiving money from Charles’s Duchy of Cornwall income, despite quitting the monarchy at the end of March last year.
A senior Clarence House spokesman said: ‘As we’ll all remember, in January 2020 when the duke and duchess announced that they were going to move away from the working Royal Family, the duke said that they would work towards becoming financially independent. The Prince of Wales allocated a substantial sum to support them with this transition. That funding ceased in the summer of last year. The couple are now financially independent.’
The spokesman added: ‘I betray no confidence when I say they’ve been very successful in becoming financially independent.’ And when quizzed on the discrepancy in Harry’s remarks, the spokesman said: ‘I wouldn’t acknowledge that they are dramatically different. All I can tell you are the facts.’
Details of Charles’s continued financial support for his estranged younger son emerged as:
- The Queen’s accounts also show she has been left with a £10million shortfall in her finances as a result of the pandemic. Buckingham Palace lost just over half its annual income outside of Government funding after closing to visitors;
- For the first time, officials yesterday unveiled figures showing how many staff are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. Just 8.5 per cent of those working for the Queen come from ethnic minority backgrounds, while the figure is 8 per cent at Clarence House, where the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall live;
- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle did not want to use the Earl of Dumbarton title for their son Archie because it contained the word ‘dumb’ – and his parents feared the young royal might be mocked, the Telegraph reports;
- A trailer of a new movie about Megxit has been released and includes recreation of notorious Oprah interview;
Prince Charles bankrolled the Duke and Duchess of Sussex by a ‘substantial sum’ in the months following Megxit, despite Harry claiming his family ‘literally cut me off financially’. Pictured L-R: Charles, Meghan and Harry during Trooping the Colour in 2018
Royal accounts made public for the first time yesterday contradict Harry’s remarks when he told Oprah Winfrey that he stopped getting financial support from his family in the ‘first quarter’ of last year. He even claimed he and his wife were reduced to living off what ‘my mother had left me’. Pictured: Harry (left) and Meghan (centre) with Oprah Winfrey (right) during their explosive interview which aired in March
The newly-public accounts show that Charles continued to fund Harry and Meghan until the summer of last year from a £4.4million Clarence House pot used to support his two sons and their families. Pictured: Prince Charles at a roundtable event for The Prince’s Trust Group in June 2021
Pandemic saw cost of royal travel plummet 40%
The cost of royal travel to the taxpayer plummeted over the past year as, along with the rest of us, the family’s wings were clipped.
Spending on official trips fell from to £5.3million to £3.2million, a reduction of almost 40 per cent.
The most expensive single trip was a £58,993 overnight visit by the Prince of Wales who flew by private jet to pay the nation’s condolences following the death of the Emir of Kuwait last October.
Second was the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s £47,965 Christmas UK tour on the Royal Train to thank frontline staff and those who had gone above and beyond for their communities during the pandemic.
Charles and Camilla’s official visit to Germany amounted to £42,486, while the Queen ran up a bill of £32,791 flying to and from Balmoral, her Scottish home, by private jet last summer.
Royal aides point out that foreign tours are conducted at the request of the British Government, which sees the Royal Family as an important tool in its use of ‘soft diplomacy’.
Officials warned yesterday that, while the bill would rise again when travel restrictions eased, there would be more of an emphasis on having a ‘blend’ of in-person and virtual engagements in the future.
One senior royal aide said building relationships in person still very much mattered, but, in terms of both costs and the environment, it made sense to adapt to a more digital way of working where possible.
Clarence House’s annual review revealed that Charles’s bill for the activities of both the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – plus other expenditure including the prince’s capital expenditure and transfer to reserves in 2020/2021 – was £4.4million.
This was a fall of £1.15million – around 21 per cent – from £5.6million in 2019/2020 – the last year the Sussexes were working royals.
The report provided no detailed breakdown of the figures and royal aides declined to elucidate further.
Harry and Meghan have signed multi-million-pound deals with Netflix and Spotify, with the duke telling Miss Winfrey he secured these to pay for his family’s ‘security’.
Yet he claimed that when the couple moved to North America, he only had what Diana had left him – £7million at the time – and ‘without that we would not have been able to do this’.
In the couple’s explosive interview with Miss Winfrey in March, Harry gave a typically emotional description of his situation, saying: ‘My family literally cut me off financially and I had to afford security for us… in the first quarter of 2020.
‘But I’ve got what my mum left me – without that we would not have been able to do this.
‘I think she [my mother] saw it coming. I certainly felt her present throughout this whole process.’
The couple emigrated first to Canada and then to California, where – despite their apparent penury – they bought an £11million family home in Montecito.
They have also set up their own film and audio company, as well as their Archewell Foundation, which branding experts believe is part of a plan to build a $1billion brand in the US.
But over the past 18 months or so Harry has become more distant from his family, especially after the Sussexes’ series of bombshell interviews in the US starting in March with Oprah.
Their ‘truth bombs’ included accusing the Royal Family of racism towards their son Archie because he is mixed race and ignoring Meghan when she was suicidal while six months pregnant.
Harry said his family ‘literally cut me off financially’ in the first quarter of 2020 and he went for the Netflix and Spotify deals to pay for his security. He said he had what Diana left him and ‘without that we would not have been able to do this.’
Harry and Meghan have signed multi-million-pound deals with Netflix and Spotify, with the duke telling Oprah Winfrey he secured these to pay for his family’s ‘security’. Pictured: Harry and Meghan appear on his AppleTV+ show with Winfrey
Harry and Meghan’s £2.4m to the taxpayer included 18 months rent
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s £2.4 million reimbursement of the taxpayer for renovating Frogmore Cottage also included more than 18 months’ rent, royal accounts have revealed.
Critics had urged Harry and Meghan to pay back the millions spent refurbishing the property after they stepped down as working royals for financial and personal freedom and moved to the US early in 2020.
It was thought the substantial sum covered just the updating of the period home close to Windsor Castle, but the annual report on royal finances appears to indicate that it included rental costs as well.
A senior royal source said: ‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have paid £2.4 million and we’re satisfied that, on the basis of that payment, it satisfies all their current obligations.’
Princes William and Harry received most of a £13m fortune left by their mother Princess Diana. Harry is also thought to have had millions left to him by the Queen mother.
Speaking to the couple’s friend Oprah in March, Harry described himself, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge as being ‘trapped’ within the system of the monarchy.
In his bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry sensationally revealed his family ‘literally cut me off financially’ and said he was only able to break away from royal life thanks to his inheritance from his late mother Princess Diana.
He claimed he was ‘trapped’ before he met Meghan as he revealed his father Charles ‘stopped taking my calls’ during the build-up to the announcement that he and Meghan were leaving the royal family.
Asked by Winfrey why they stepped back from the Royal Family to forge their own family life, Harry blamed a ‘lack of support and lack of understanding’.
Winfrey asked ‘did you blindside the Queen?’ with the announcement they were leaving the family. Harry replied: ‘No, I would never blindside my grandmother, I have too much respect for her.’
Asked where that story came from, Harry said he could ‘hazard a guess’ that it may have come ‘from within the institution’.
Harry said while in Canada he had ‘three conversations with my grandmother and two conversations with my father, before he stopped taking my calls’.
He also revealed Charles had asked for him to put his plan ‘in writing’.
Meghan ‘bullying probe’ will NOT be paid for by the taxpayer
The investigation into alleged bullying by the Duchess of Sussex is being paid for privately by the Royal Family, it has emerged.
Buckingham Palace declined to confirm whether it was the Queen who was footing the bill, but said no taxpayers’ money was being spent on the probe.
It is likely a senior member of the royal family has taken on the costs, but it is unclear when or even if the privately funded inquiry will be published.
Clarence House declined to comment as to whether the Prince of Wales was paying for the investigation.
As the palace released its Sovereign Grant financial accounts, details of the ongoing investigation were expected to be included in the annual report, but were not. The palace said earlier this year that any changes in policies or procedures borne out review would appear in the accounts.
But a senior palace source said: ‘There is no Sovereign Grant money spent on this review. It is being met privately and not out of public money.’
The source declined to confirm if the investigation would be published, saying: ‘I have nothing further to add whilst this review is in progress. I have not seen the results of the review by independent lawyers, and I can’t comment further at this stage.’
The royal household tasked an external legal team to assist its human resources team into looking at allegations made against former Suits star Meghan.
The Times reported in March that the duchess allegedly drove out two personal assistants and ‘humiliated’ staff on several occasions, which she denies.
The palace declined to give further details as to why the decision was made to privately pay for the HR inquiry.
It is believed to be the first time the actions of a member of the royal family have been investigation by the royal household’s HR department.
The Sussexes were not expected to be asked to contribute to the review, but it was previously reported the duchess had written to the palace asking for any documents, emails or texts relating to the allegations against her.
Lawyers for the duchess have denied the bullying allegations.
Royal accounts in numbers
£85.9 million – The total taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant, made up of £51.5 million for the ‘core’ funding and an extra £34.4 million for the reservicing of Buckingham Palace.
£87.5 million – Taxpayer funds spent by the monarchy – a rise of £18.1 million or 26% from £69.4 million in 2019/2020.
£1.29 – Cost per person in the UK of funding the total Sovereign Grant.
77p – Cost per person of the ‘core’ part of the Sovereign Grant for official duties – not including funds for the long-term Buckingham Palace works.
£2.4 million – Amount the Sussexes paid back with regard to Frogmore Cottage.
113 – Official engagements carried out by the Queen in the last financial year – 183 less or a decline of 62% compared to the 296 carried out in 2019-2020.
Almost 1,470 – Official engagements by the royals in the UK and overseas.
508 – Full-time equivalent staff paid for from the Sovereign Grant, with the wage bill coming to £24.1 million.
£900,000 – Cost of housekeeping and hospitality for the Royal Household – a fall of £1.7 million or 65%.
£3.2 million – Cost of official royal travel, a fall of £2.1 million – 40% – from £5.3 million the previous year.
£4.452 million – The Prince of Wales’s bill for the Sussexes and the Cambridges’ activities, plus Charles’s other expenditure including his capital expenditure and transfer to reserves – a drop of £1.2 million in the year after Harry and Meghan quit.
£20.4 million – Charles’s annual private income from the Duchy of Cornwall landed estate.
£3.063 million – Charles’s non-official expenditure for himself and his family including salary costs of valets and farm workers and a proportion of costs for chefs and gardeners.
£172,000 – Official costs of Charles’s London office and official residence Clarence House.
£5 million – Charles’s tax bill.
£47,965 – Cost of travel for William and Kate’s royal train tour to Scotland.
£42,486 – Travel costs for the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s official visit to Germany.
Harry said he had to act for the wellbeing of himself, Meghan and Archie, adding: ‘He asked me to put it in writing, and I put all the specifics in there, even the fact that we were planning on putting the announcement out on the 7th of January.’
Oprah asked: ‘So, you just said that your dad stopped taking your calls. Why did he stop taking your calls?’
Harry replied: ‘Because… by that point, I took matters into my own hands. It was like, I need to do this for my family. This is not a surprise to anybody.
‘It’s really sad that it’s gotten to this point, but I’ve got to do something for my own mental health, my wife’s, and for Archie’s, as well, because I could see where this was headed.’
He added: ‘I feel really let down because he’s been through something similar, he knows what pain feels like, (and) Archie’s his grandson.
‘But at the same time – I will always love him – but there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened and I will continue to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship.
‘But they only know what they know, or what they’re told.’
In January last year it said they would ‘work to become financially independent’ as they stepped back.
They said 95 per cent of their income had come from the Duchy of Cornwall, an amount known to total some £2.5million.
The couple had said the remaining 5 per cent had come from the taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant, although it has previously been stated that they got £2.5million from the fund.
They also committed to pay back the £2.4m cost of renovating their home, Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, a bill initially footed by the UK taxpayer.
The large sum also appears to cover a 22-month rental period – from June 2020 until March 2022 when the couple’s annual licence to occupy their private UK home is up for renewal.
The source said: ‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have paid £2.4 million, which covers the rental income in 2020/21, rental income in 2021/22… So all of the payments are reflected in the accounts.’
In the 2018/19 royal financial report the work to renovate Frogmore Cottage was listed as costing £2.4 million, with the document adding: ‘The scheme consisted of the reconfiguration and full refurbishment of five residential units in poor condition to create the official residence for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their family.
‘The works started on site in November 2018 and were substantially completed by the end of March 2019.’
A spokesperson for the Sussexes said: ‘The duke made a substantial contribution to the Sovereign Grant last year to support necessary and existing refurbishments to Frogmore Cottage, which specifically included essential structural updates to the building.
‘As part of this agreement, all tenant obligations are being met. The duke and duchess continue to operate with no money being drawn from the UK taxpayer.’
Harry and Meghan, who recently added baby daughter Lili to their family, now live in the exclusive community of Montecito in Santa Barbara after buying a property reportedly worth £11 million.
Sir Michael Stevens, Keeper of the Privy Purse, said: ‘In the year covered by this report, we actually spent more than our grant and the supplementary income we earned, with total net expenditure of £87.5 million, a 26% increase on the previous year.
‘This was largely driven by a significant increase in the reservicing spend from £21.2 million to £38.8 million, an 83% increase on the year.’
The overspend of £2.3 million was met from funds drawn from the Sovereign Grant reserve.
The £369 million reservicing programme is updating the electrical cabling, plumbing and heating at Buckingham Palace over 10 years and is running to time and budget.
Income supplementing the Sovereign Grant fell 53% to £9.4 million largely reflecting the impact of Covid-19 on the ability of Royal Collection Trust to open royal palaces for visitors.
Sir Michael said: ‘As we said we would, we tightened our belts, we cut costs across all areas and managed to deliver savings to cover this anticipated reduction in supplementary income.
‘These cost reductions did not involve job losses but did come from all areas including the pay and recruitment freeze we spoke about, general reductions in the areas of travel, housekeeping and IT and a reduction in some property backlog maintenance.’
Graham Smith, chief executive officer of the organisation Republic – which campaigns for an elected head of state, said:’ Once again the Sovereign Grant goes up, once again the royals cost the taxpayer more year on year while the country faces unprecedented pressures on public spending.’
He added: ‘Of course the real cost of the royals is closer to £345 million a year when security, costs to local authorities and lost revenue from the two Duchies is taken into account.
‘It’s time the palace finances were brought into line with those of other public bodies, with annual budgets agreed by parliament, properly scrutinised and published independently, not by the royal household.’
Buckingham Palace also confirmed yesterday that the probe into allegations of bullying against Meghan was still being investigated. It stressed that no money from the public purse was being used to finance the review but refused to confirm where that money was coming from.
The Clarence House accounts also showed that Charles’s annual income from the Duchy of Cornwall profits fell this year to £20.4million – a drop of £1.8million or 8 per cent – as a result of the pandemic.
The prince also voluntarily paid more tax, an increase of 3 per cent from £4.86million to £5.02million.
No visitors at palace leave the Queen £10m out of pocket
The Queen has been left with a £10million shortfall in her finances as a result of the pandemic.
Buckingham Palace revealed yesterday that it had lost just over half its annual income outside of Government funding after closing to visitors.
It meant the royal household was forced to break into its savings.
Income plunged from £20.2million in 2019/20 to £9.4million in 2020/21. Meanwhile, its property maintenance bill soared from £38.4million to £49.5 million as part of its planned upgrade of the Queen’s official residence.
The sovereign grant, the pot of money given to the monarch by Government which is based on the income surplus from The Crown Estate two years ago, increased by £3.5million to £85.9million during 2020/21.
It was comprised of a core element of £51.5million that funds the Queen’s official duties and her household, plus an additional £34.4million to pay for reservicing costs at the palace.
In all, the monarchy cost the taxpayer £87.5million in 2020/21 – an increase of £18.1million on the previous financial year. This was because of the ramping-up of palace building works.
An unexpected payment from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex saved the palace from having to dip into its savings more than it feared.
Their unplanned decision to pay back £2.4million of public money spent on the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage was described by senior royals aides as a ‘good deal’ for taxpayers.
Harry and Meghan announced last year that they had decided to reimburse the cost of turning five staff cottages into their family home at Windsor as part of their ‘clean break’ with the Royal Family and to prevent further public criticism.
The financial report further suggested that the Sussexes paid five months of rent on the property after stepping down as working royals and have the lease at least until March 2022. As a result, Buckingham Palace needed to ‘draw down’ on its reserves only to the tune of £2.3million.
Sir Michael Stevens, keeper of the privy purse, said yesterday: ‘We will not be going into the detail of the commercial arrangement for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s use of the house but please remember the payment covers all their current obligations.
‘We are confident that it represents a good outcome for the sovereign grant. The return on investment in the refurbished property has been determined with reference to independent property specialists and the accounting treatment signed off by Her Majesty’s Treasury and the National Audit Office.’
The palace also had to ‘borrow’ an extra £6million from savings, specifically for the palace refurbishment works.
Sir Michael also said staff had ‘tightened their belts’, cutting costs across all areas without job losses, including a pay and recruitment freeze.
Staff diversity ‘not what we’d like it to be’
Buckingham Palace has admitted it needs to do more to promote staff diversity in the wake of Harry and Meghan’s claims of racism within the Royal Family.
Honours in the flesh
After waiting more than a year, dozens of recipients were finally given their honours yesterday at the first major royal investiture ceremony since the pandemic began.
The events are normally attended by up to 100 recipients, joined by their families.
But the number at yesterday’s event at St James’s Palace, overseen by Prince Charles, was slimmed down to 32 to reduce the potential spread of coronavirus.
Rather than receiving their insignia directly from the prince, the awards were instead picked up from a cushion as he looked on.
The guests, whose honours were announced in 2019, had to wear masks, present a negative Covid test and pass a temperature check.
For the first time, officials yesterday unveiled figures showing how many staff are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.
Just 8.5 per cent of those working for the Queen come from ethnic minority backgrounds, while the figure is 8 per cent at Clarence House, where the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall live.
This compares with 13 per cent of the UK, according to the 2011 census.
A senior Buckingham Palace source openly admitted it ‘must do more’ and is ‘not where it would like to be’ in terms of diversity.
It has set a target of 10 per cent for 2022.
The palace’s decision to voluntarily reveal its figures comes after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex sensationally accused Royal Family members and the monarchy of racism in their Oprah Winfrey interview in March.
Meghan accused a senior royal of expressing ‘concern’ about the colour of her baby’s skin. Harry also claimed racism was a ‘large part’ of why the couple left Britain.
The Queen issued a statement at the time saying: ‘The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning.
‘While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.’
The Queen’s household brought in a change to its diversity strategy in early 2020, before the Oprah interview, to emphasise inclusion.
A senior aide at Clarence House said they also accepted they needed to do more on the issue of diversity. Kensington Palace did not publish its figures.