Public paid £2.4m to renovate Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Frogmore Cottage
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s new home of Frogmore Cottage has cost £2.4 million of public funds to renovate so far, according to this year’s Royal accounts. The cottage has been remodelled from five separate living quarters into one large official residence for the couple and their son Archie, paid for largely by the Sovereign Grant.
OK who owns the Cottage?
The Queen put a whole bunch of properties that were officially “owned by the current monarch” into a formal organisation called The Crown Estate. It includes a load of commercial land and buildings which generate revenue as well as places used for the business of kinging or queening like Buck Palace. So although it is going to be Harry & Megans new home, it’s not “their house”. It is a Crown Estate property that they will be using for a while.
Since Crown Estates owns the house, as landlord they are responsible for necessary maintenance otherwise they would risk be appearing on Slum Landlords TV on C5. So that is all fine and dandy.
Where is the money coming from?
Instead of paying tax at 19% like a normal business, Crown Estate gives all 100% of it’s profits each year to the treasury. The government then gives back a percentage (currently 25%) to the monarch as the Sovereign Grant. This is to pay for staff, maintaining the buildings, and everything they need to do as part of being monarch. So not really the public paying, except in the most tortuous way.
It’s a bit like those “EU funded” projects in Scotland that are UK money being sent back. The Queen could chose to ask The Crown Estates not to give the profits to the Government of course, just pay the tax and trouser the remaining 81% to spend on decorating cottages or orange smarties if she really wanted to.
So to recap
The owner of a building has paid for it’s maintenance using the funds it has available to do so. It is a residence that will be used by some royals. There was no effect on the taxpayer.
Have a row about whether Harry & Megs should pay rent, or who should own The Crown Estate if you want to but not that it spends it’s money doing what it is specifically there to do.