Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, have repaid £2.4 million (around $3.16 million) of public money that was used to refurbish their residence on the grounds of Windsor Castle, the couple said Monday.
The announcement comes days after Harry and Meghan, who have been living in Los Angeles since March, signed a deal with Netflix for an undisclosed amount to produce films, shows and documentaries.
The refurbishment of their British residence, Frogmore Cottage, became one of the main points of criticism when the couple decided to quit as front-line royals earlier this year.
Some critics accused them of wanting to escape their royal duties while keeping some of the benefits — namely living at the historic residence after it had been renovated with £2.4 million of British taxpayers’ money.
The couple have previously said they would pay this money back. And on Monday a spokesman said that they had made a contribution that “fully covered the necessary renovation costs” of the cottage, which would “remain the U.K. residence of the Duke and his family.”
The money was repaid to something called the “Sovereign Grant,” which is money is generated by a vast state-run property empire. The government gives the royals a slice of this, around $100 million a year, to run their affairs. The newly independent Sussexes no longer receive this.
While Meghan was wealthy through her acting career long before she met Harry, her husband’s estimated net worth of $40 million is largely down to inheritances from the queen, Queen Mother and his late mother, Princess Diana.
The couple shocked the world in January with their decision to step back from royal duties to pursue a “revised role” and “a more independent life as a family.” Harry, grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, is still sixth in line to the throne, and both he and Meghan will retain their royal “HRH” prefixes, without actively using them.
It was a dramatic turnaround from their 2018 wedding. The image of a biracial, foreign woman being welcomed into the cradle of white, traditionalist Britain was heralded as a historic moment.
The atmosphere soon disintegrated, with the couple and their supporters calling out what they saw as toxic coverage in the British press that they said often veered into racism and sexism.