For more than a year it has been the millstone around Prince Harry's neck, a gilded piece the size of taxpayers that reeked of privilege and entitlement.
But for Harry and Meghan, the £ 2.4 million public money – our money – used to renovate Frogmore Cottage only to have it closed and abandoned along with the rest of their royal lives was something far stranger .
He saw it as a chain that tied her to the land of his birth and hindered her efforts to be truly free from the royal family and, crucially, from their media critics.
In his eyes, the money was not a loan from a generous nation delighted to help this young royal couple gain a foothold after their joyous wedding, but a stick to beat them with.
So it is of great importance to repay every penny to the public purse after they previously offered to do so at a cost of £ 18,000 a month (a deal that would have taken them 11 years to repay the debt).
In the short term, it is intended to silence the drum beat of criticism to which they feel subject. But will it really end what you are lamenting as the unjustified "public interest" in your new life?
A source close to the couple confirmed that they were no longer receiving financial support from Harry's father, the Prince of Wales, either from the Duchy of Cornwall or from his personal income
With an estimated fortune of £ 20 million inherited from his mother's estate and Queen Mother's trust funds, he could have afforded to pay for the renovation himself
Surely such a move raises more questions than it answers when one begins such a high-profile life in the entertainment capital of the world, where every resource is choreographed for maximum publicity.
It can't be a coincidence that this remarkable gesture comes just days after it was announced that the couple had signed a production deal with Netflix valued at £ 75 million.
Many will wonder if this payment to the sovereign grant was part of the first installment of this extraordinary deal. But while royal officials digested the implications, the Duke and Duchess made another equally bold announcement.
A source close to the couple confirmed that they were no longer receiving financial support from Harry's father, the Prince of Wales, either from the Duchy of Cornwall or from his personal income.
This, too, marks a fork in the road for Harry and Meghan, although insiders suspect that they have already received the full amount of the scholarship they had expected from Charles for this year anyway.
What it does, however, is a signal that their divorce from Britain is permanent, while removing any claim that they could still play a future role in the royal family.
Harry could of course have avoided this whole sad saga before it ever became a problem. With an estimated fortune of £ 20 million inherited from his mother's estate and Queen Mother's trust funds, he could have afforded to pay for the renovation himself.
This, too, marks a fork in the road for Harry and Meghan, although insiders suspect that they have already received the full amount of the scholarship they had expected from Charles for this year anyway
What he didn't understand then – and probably still not today – is not that there was public resentment at the expense of the Frogmore renovation, but that the public felt betrayed when Harry decided to reveal secret details about the birth and baptism of son Keep Archie.
"The message was sent that they would like to take public money for granted, but not when it meant having to share things with the public that they didn't want," says one courtier. "Since then it has become more and more toxic." For now, questions remain unanswered as to how the money was paid back and who knew about it. Royal Aides suggested that while the timing was surprising, it wasn't entirely unexpected.
Harry was determined to emphasize his and Meghan's lack of dependence on UK taxpayers' money by first paying the cost of their substantial security bill and now repaying the Sovereign Grant. They believe that this will remove what they consider to be a media intrusion into their lives.
Criticism of the extensive renovations at Frogmore Cottage, however, was hardly confined to the media. Over the weekend, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Vice-Chairman of Parliament's Public Finance Committee, remarked: “Anyone who has borrowed taxpayers' money must repay it as soon as possible. £ 2.4 million is a lot, and even if you paid back £ 250,000 a year, it would be another decade. & # 39;
Harry could see his newfound wealth, which enabled him to repay that money, win as freedom and escape his critics. However, this can have unforeseen consequences. While his father contributed to Harry and Meghan's lives, there was still a weak connection that anchored him in his country and family. Without her, Harry could be drifting more than ever.
Thank you Megflix: After a huge Netflix deal, Harry and Meghan are paying out £ 2.4m on the Frogmore Cottage bill – and they are no longer taking any money from Charles
By Rebecca English Royal Editor for the Daily Mail
Harry and Meghan have reimbursed taxpayers in full for the £ 2.4 million used to renovate their Windsor home in a dramatic escalation of their "divorce" from the royal family.
In an unexpected move, the couple, who had repaid the money in monthly installments, announced that they had repaid in full the Sovereign Grant for the refurbishment of the five-bedroom Frogmore Cottage on the Queen's Berkshire estate.
Sources close to the couple also claimed they would no longer ask Prince Charles for handouts in order to achieve "financial independence."
The surprise move came after it was revealed that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had struck a lucrative deal to produce shows for streaming giant Netflix, valued on the order of $ 100 million (£ 75 million ) should have.
The £ 2.4 million public money used to convert Frogmore from the staff's five tiny cottages to a larger country house for the couple has been a particular point of contention since they quit as working royals in January.
Critics had argued that not only should the money be fully refunded after they moved to California, but their right to live in Frogmore, given to them by the Queen, should be forfeited.
Those calls intensified after they recently purchased a nine-bedroom, 16-bathroom mansion in Montecito, Santa Barbara for a £ 7.5 million mortgage.
So far they had paid back the money at a monthly rate of £ 18,000 – a number that also covered the "rent" on the property.
Sources close to the couple claimed they stopped asking Prince Charles for handouts as they tried to establish “financial independence”.
This meant it would have taken them 11 years to repay the UK taxpayer, a timeframe that many believed was way too long given the couple's earning potential.
But last night, a spokesman for the couple said that Prince Harry has now repaid the money in full. They said: “The Duke of Sussex contributed to the Sovereign Grant.
"This contribution, as originally offered by Prince Harry, has fully covered the necessary renovation costs of Frogmore Cottage, Her Majesty the Queen's property, and will remain the British residence of the Duke and his family."
The spokesman made it clear that the Sussexes would continue to use the Windsor property, for which they will now continue to pay an undisclosed "commercial" rent, as a base in the UK.
The mail was told that the decision to suddenly repay the money in full took royal officials by surprise. A well-placed source said that the Sovereign Grant money has always been a "sore spot" for Harry, who – rightly or wrongly – felt it was used by members of his own family and by himself as a means of "control "The media was used.
The Sovereign Grant is the money the Treasury Department provides to support the Queen as Head of State. It pays the running costs of their official budget as well as the maintenance of properties owned by the Crown Estate.
Prince Charles reacts during a national memorial service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Central England on August 15, 2020
The source told the Mail yesterday that Harry "made it very clear from the start that he wanted to repay this money because he believed that no one would have the right to control him if he returned it." They added, "But while he does use the word control, many see this as a desire on Harry's part to escape criticism under a fair and free press." The source added that Harry never seemed in a rush to repay the sum in its entirety.
"This is a surprise," they admitted, "and it can only be assumed that this has something to do with the Netflix deal." Perhaps it now means he can afford to repay the money in full immediately, or perhaps he was irritated by the criticism the deal has sparked on his finances. Nobody really knows.
“But if he thinks that this will save him from public and media scrutiny, he is misled.
"This new, highly visible media role that he is looking for in the US makes him more than ever a public figure."
Frogmore, which was given to the couple by the Queen through her Crown Estate, had expired before the couple moved in. The builders worked around the clock for six months so they could move in before their son Archie was born in May 2019.
The couple moved out of Kensington Palace after the fallout with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
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