For more than a year, it’s been the millstone around Prince Harry’s neck, a gold plated slice of taxpayers’ generosity that stank of privilege and entitlement, but to Harry and Meghan, the £2.4 million of public money, our money, that was lavished on remodelling Frogmore Cottage, only for it to be shattered and abandoned along with the rest of their royal lives, symbolised something far more intrinsic.
He saw it as a chain that shackled them to the land of his birth, hampering their efforts to be really free of the Royal Family and crucially of their media critics and in his eyes, the money was not a loan from a generous nation pleased to be helping this young royal couple find its feet after their joyous wedding, but instead a stick with which to beat them.
So, paying back every penny to the public purse, having previously offered to do so at the rate of £18,000 a month, a deal of such indulgence, it would have taken them 11 years to reimburse the deficit, which is highly significant.
In the short term, it’s designed to muffle the drumbeat of criticism to which they perceive they are subject, but will it actually end what they complain of as unjustified public interest in their new lives?
And surely by embarking on such a high profile life in the entertainment capital of the world, where every resource is choreographed for maximum publicity, such a move presents more questions than it answers?
It can be no coincidence that this amazing gesture comes only days after it was announced that the couple had signed a production deal with Netflix, calculated to be worth £75 million.
And many will wonder if this payment to the Sovereign Grant was part of the first instalment of that incredible deal, but while the royal officials were digesting the implications, another equally bold announcement was being released by the Duke and Duchess.
A source close to the couple confirmed that they were no longer receiving financial aid from Harry’s father, the Prince of Wales, either from the Duchy of Cornwall or his private income.
This, too, marks a fork in the road for Harry and Meghan, although insiders suggest they may already have received the total amount of the stipend they expected from Charles for this year anyhow.
What it does do, however, is signal that their divorce from Britain is permanent, while removing any facade that they might still have a future function in the Royal Family. Harry could, of course, have sidestepped this whole tragic saga before it ever became a problem, and with a calculated fortune of £20 million inherited from his mother’s estate and trust funds from the Queen Mother, he could have afforded to pay for the renovation himself.
The Queen gave them both an extremely run-down cottage and it was an extremely pricey affair that taxpayers had to pay to remodel it. It required a lot of tender loving care and heavy repair to bring it up to standard ahead of the Duke and Duchess moving in.
Perhaps Harry and Meghan breaking away from the Royal Family will give them both a chance to do their own thing and maybe they will be successful, that’s not a bad thing. It will give them both challenges, successes and failures.
That’s the foundation of maturing, as long as they’re willing to learn the hard lessons, but Harry has to realise that to become successful, he needs to be able to get real with people in need, rather than making shallow woke addresses to bored rich folk who would be more than willing to drag him down.
We’ll believe it when we see it, but I hope it happens for them both because it would be such a waste if all he becomes is a highly paid talking head – we’ve seen enough of those in the world.