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Inside Frogmore Cottage: Harry and Meghan’s first family home

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been asked by the King to vacate Frogmore Cottage to reportedly make room for Princess Eugenie and her husband.

Initially it was thought that Prince Andrew would be taking over the five-bedroom Georgian cottage on the Windsor estate but a source told OK! magazine that his daughter Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank were “handed the keys two weeks ago”. They had lived in the cottage previously on a temporary basis.

“Eugenie and Jack went to see Harry and Meghan last month in California,” the source said. “They took over some small personal belongings left in the property. They were also helping to box up items at Frogmore to be shipped over to California. Andrew is delighted that his daughter will take over the property for the time being,” the insider told the magazine.

A history of Frogmore

Charles II began building the original Frogmore House in 1680, on land bought by Henry VIII in the 16th century. “The name derives from the preponderance of frogs which have always lived in this low-lying marshy area,” said the official website of the royal family. The estate is part of the larger Windsor Estate and is close to the River Thames.

On the other side of the estate to Frogmore Cottage is the Frogmore Mausoleums and the Royal Burial Ground, the final resting places of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Edward VIII, Wallis Simpson and other late royals. The cottage itself was said to be a retreat for Charlotte, the queen consort of George III.

Valued for its privacy

Prince Harry apparently valued the privacy afforded by the home’s location. “Frogmore, which is inside the Windsor security zone, is secluded, peaceful, tranquil and, most importantly, private,” a royal insider told the The Sun.

The cottage was offered to the couple by the late Queen before their wedding in 2018 and they moved in a few weeks before their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, was born in May 2019.

The couple also held their engagement photoshoot and one of their wedding receptions at the neighbouring Frogmore House.

Extensive renovations

Harry and Meghan completed extensive renovations before moving into Frogmore Cottage. It was remodelled from five separate living quarters into one large official residence for the couple and their son Archie.

Royal accounts showed that £2.4m was spent on renovations, with costs paid for by taxpayers via the Sovereign Grant. However, The Times reported in 2019 that the total sum was likely to be “even higher” as “some of the work was not started until the new financial year”.

Harry and Meghan forked out for some of the fittings themselves, but the cost of replacing ceiling beams, floor joists, heating, gas, electrical systems and re-plumbing was met by the public purse, according to the BBC.

The royal couple have since repaid the cost of the renovations back in full through a contribution to the Sovereign Grant.

Rumoured additions to property

The cottage was described by Cosmopolitan as “pretty dilapidated” before the renovation work began.

As well as restoring the house to a habitable condition, sources told the magazine that refurbishments included an “elaborate Gone With The Wind style double staircase” replacing a “hotchpotch of stairs criss-crossing the interior” and new grand fireplaces in the main rooms.

The planned additions to the cottage included “an eco-friendly green energy unit, two conservatory extensions and extensive landscaping to provide privacy for the couple and their baby, according to Elle.

The Sun claimed there was also a “gender-free” nursery decorated with vegan-infused paint in neutral greys and a mother-and-baby yoga studio complete with a “floating floor”.

Latest on the move

King Charles reportedly asked the Sussexes to leave their UK home around the time that the Duke’s memoir, Spare, was published in the New Year, “but discussions have only recently gathered pace”, said The Telegraph. The royal couple currently live in Montecito, California, with their two children Archie and Lilibet, who was christened today.

The monarch’s decision to “remove one of the final links his son has to the UK” is said to be “indicative of the current state of the relationship between the two sides of the family”, the paper added.

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