Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are under attack for extravagance on Tuesday after the annual publication of the royal accounts showed they have already spent £2.4m ($3m) of public money renovating their new home, Frogmore Cottage—and work on the property is still not complete.
Critics blasted the lavish expenditure, with Graham Smith, from the anti-monarchy campaign group Republic, among the first to lash out.
He compared the renovation bill with the cost of a center for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder .
“A charity spent £2.4 million on a support center for Marines suffering PTSD. The taxpayers then spent the same amount on a luxury private home for Harry and Meghan,” he tweeted, while linking to an article on the construction of a support hub for Royal Marines in Lympstone, Devon.
Courtiers have moved to defend the spending, saying that a significant portion of the money would have needed to be spent anyway to preserve what is, they argue, an important part of the country’s built heritage.
However, critics dismissed this argument, saying the house, which was previously divided up into five individual staff flats, was only converted at such huge expense into a single home because Harry and Meghan turned their noses up at the prospect of living in Kate and William’s shadow at Kensington Palace.
Officials sought to brief the press that previous reports that the house contained such extravagances as a yoga studio were wide of the mark.
The six-month building project at Frogmore Cottage, which was given to Harry and Meghan by the Queen, was completed just weeks before the birth of their baby son, Archie.
Ceilings and floors were replaced along with the addition of new bathrooms, bedrooms, and a kitchen, the palace said.
Sir Michael Stevens, keeper of the Privy Purse, who is responsible for monarchy’s accounts, said: “The property had not been the subject of work for some years and had already been earmarked for renovation in line with our responsibility to maintain the condition of the occupied royal palaces estate.”
He said that “all fixtures and fittings were paid for by Their Royal Highnesses.”
The revelation of how much was spent is particularly embarrassing for the royals as they had previously rubbished speculative reports that the renovation works would cost £3m, saying the figure would be closer to £1.5m.
The monarchy cost taxpayers £67m (or $85.5m) during 2018-19—an increase of almost £20m on the previous financial year, Sky News reported.
The family undertook more than 3,200 official duties in Britain and abroad, the palace said.