News & Views
Prince Harry pays up for cottage with an Indian connection
Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, has paid back the refurbishment cost to the UK taxpayer of £2.4 million for a cottage on the grounds of Queen Elizabeth II's Windsor estate, the family home he shares with wife Meghan Markle.
Frogmore Cottage has an Indian connection dating back to the Raj era, when it was presented as a?royal gift to Abdul Karim by Queen Victoria, then Empress of India, as a sign of her affection for her Indian aide and confidant. In 2018, Harry's grandmother, the Queen, presented it to him and Meghan Markle as a wedding gift. The couple lived in the cottage briefly with new-born baby Archie before permanently moving to the US earlier this year as they stepped back as frontline?royals.
A spokesperson for Harry, the Duke of Sussex, confirmed this week that he has made a payment into the Sovereign Grant to cover the taxpayer-funded refurbishment costs, an issue that had been played up by sections of the British media.
“A contribution has been made to the Sovereign Grant by the Duke of Sussex,” the spokesperson said.
"This contribution, as originally offered by Prince Harry, has fully covered the necessary renovation costs of Frogmore Cottage, a property of Her Majesty the Queen, and will remain the UK residence of the Duke and his family," the spokesperson said.
The announcement comes days after Harry and his former actress wife Meghan struck a £112-million deal with streaming giant Netflix to create “content that informs but also gives hope".
Frogmore Cottage is a Grade II listed historic property that Queen Victoria presented to Adul Karim, whom the then monarch referred to as her “Munshi” and Urdu teacher. He was just 24 when he arrived in England from Agra to present Victoria with a special?mohar?or gold coin to mark her Golden Jubilee in 1887.He quickly grew close to the ageing monarch, who bestowed many gifts on him, including the cottage.
“Queen Victoria gave it to Abdul Karim as a special gift. She would often visit the cottage and have tea with his wife and him. He had decorated the house with many exotic things, including presents given to him by European royalty,” said Shrabani Basu,the author of 'Victoria and Abdul: The Extraordinary True Story of the Queen's Closest Confidant'.
“There is also a sad angle to the story. Hours after Queen Victoria's funeral, the new king, Edward VII, ordered that all the letters written by his mother to Karim be seized from his house.They were burnt in a bonfire outside Frogmore Cottage and Abdul was ordered to return home,” said Basu, whose book formed the basis of the Oscar-nominated film 'Victoria and Abdul' starring British star Judi Dench and Victoria and Indian actor Ali Fazal as Abdul.
The heritage cottage, which has been a favourite royal retreat for many years, underwent the multi-million-pound refit for the newly-wed royals as a cosy family home and is expected to remain their base when they visit the UK in future.
It is set within the peaceful and secluded Frogmore House estate, near Windsor Castle, surrounded by 35 acres of lush vegetation and Berkshire countryside. The estate has its own man-made Frogmore Lake and is home to the Royal Burial Ground and the tomb of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.