In Depth

Inside Frogmore Cottage: everything we know about Harry and Meghan’s first family home

Princess Eugenie living in property as Sussexes settle in to California life

Frogmore Cottage, the Grade II listed building in Windsor’s Home Park, was the first family home of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle before they left the UK to live in America.

The property, which they moved into a few weeks before their son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born in May 2019, is owned by The Queen, who offered it to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex ahead of their wedding in 2018.

The couple also held their engagement photo shoot there, as well as their wedding reception which took place at the neighbouring Frogmore House.

Prince Harry has been said to value the privacy afforded by the home’s location in the grounds of the Frogmore Estate in Windsor. “Frogmore, which is inside the Windsor security zone, is secluded, peaceful, tranquil and, most importantly, private”, a royal insider told the Daily Mail.

Prince Harry’s cousin, Princess Eugenie, currently resides in the cottage with her husband Jack Brooksbank and their baby August Philip Hawke Brooksbank, who was born on 9 February. 

Harry and Meghan, who live in a mansion in Montecito, California, allowed them use of the property in order to “accommodate their growing family”, celebrity magazine Hello! reports.

Frogmore Cottage remains Harry and Meghan’s base in the UK, however, with Harry reportedly staying there when he last crossed the pond to unveil a statue of his mother, Princess Diana, in Kensington Palace’s Sunken Garden on 1 July. 

As the property is split into two self-contained cottages, Harry was able to quarantine without coming into contact with Eugenie and her family.

The Frogmore renovation

Harry and Meghan completed extensive renovations before moving into Frogmore Cottage in April 2019. The cottage was remodelled from five separate living quarters into one large official residence for the couple and their son Archie. 

According to Hello!, Meghan hired Soho House’s interior designer Vicky Charles to decorate the space and the paint used was vegan and organic in keeping with Meghan’s “largely vegan diet”.

Royal accounts showed that £2.4 million was spent on renovating the house, with costs paid for by taxpayers via the sovereign grant. However, The Times reported in 2019 that the total sum “will be even higher” as “some of the work was not started until the new financial year”.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle 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.

Royal aide Michael Stevens, keeper of the privy purse, 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.

“The building was returned to a single residence and outdated infrastructure was replaced to guarantee the long-term future of the property.” He added that Harry and Meghan had paid for “substantially all fixtures and fittings” at the time.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are in the process of paying back the costs of renovating Frogmore Cottage in instalments that could take more than a decade. 

They agreed to foot the bill for refurbishing the property following meetings with the royal family and Buckingham Palace officials in January 2020, The Times reported in May of that year.

The same month, The Mail on Sunday revealed that it was “quietly arranged for the couple to start paying rent on the property”, beginning in April 2020.

The paper reported that the pair are paying “just shy of £18,000 a month to keep Frogmore as their official British base”. The arrangement has been described as a “‘rental-plus’ agreement” and sees the couple pay more than the commercial rate, enabling them to pay down the renovation costs over time.  

The Mail on Sunday said that it would take more than 11 years of payments at £18,000 per month to cover the £2.4 million debt. This, the paper added, is without taking into account additional interest or the running costs of the cottage.

What is the history of the cottage?

Charles II began building Frogmore House in 1680, on land bought by Henry VIII in the 16th century.

Not only are “Edward VIII and his wife Wallis Simpson buried there (you know them from The Crown), Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s mausoleum is on the Frogmore House grounds”, says Cosmopolitan.

The estate is part of the larger Windsor Estate and is close to the River Thames, with the surrounding marshy land attracting many frogs - hence the name.

What else does Frogmore offer? 

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 a yoga studio with a special floor, 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 also include “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 the renovations also included the building of a “gender-free” nursery decorated with vegan-infused paint in neutral greys and a mother-and-baby yoga studio complete with a “floating floor”.

Planners at Windsor and Maidenhead council reportedly gave approval for builders to tear up the original Victorian boards to build a sprung floor for the yoga studio in order to minimise vibrations and noise.

The i added that the couple were also given £50,000 to soundproof the entire property in an effort to tackle noise from nearby Heathrow Airport. And according to Vanity Fair, Meghan and Harry were offered a choice of paintings from the Queen’s private collection to hang in their new home.


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