Prince Charles bankrolled the Duke and Duchess of Sussex by a ‘substantial sum’ in the months following Megxit, despite Harry claiming his family ‘literally cut me off financially’.
Royal accounts made public for the first time yesterday show that the future king continued to fund Harry and Meghan until the summer of last year from a £4.4million Clarence House pot used to support his two sons and their families.
This contradicts Harry’s remarks when he told Oprah Winfrey that he stopped getting financial support from his family in the ‘first quarter’ of last year.
He even claimed he and his wife were reduced to living off what ‘my mother had left me’.
Details of Charles’s continued financial support for his estranged younger son came as both Clarence House and Buckingham Palace opened up their yearly financial accounts.
Prince Charles bankrolled the Duke and Duchess of Sussex by a ‘substantial sum’ in the months following Megxit, despite Harry claiming his family ‘literally cut me off financially’. Pictured L-R: Charles, Meghan and Harry during Trooping the Colour in 2018
Royal accounts made public for the first time yesterday contradict Harry’s remarks when he told Oprah Winfrey that he stopped getting financial support from his family in the ‘first quarter’ of last year. He even claimed he and his wife were reduced to living off what ‘my mother had left me’. Pictured: Harry (left) and Meghan (centre) with Oprah Winfrey (right) during their explosive interview which aired in March
The newly-public accounts show that Charles continued to fund Harry and Meghan until the summer of last year from a £4.4million Clarence House pot used to support his two sons and their families. Pictured: Prince Charles at a roundtable event for The Prince’s Trust Group in June 2021
Clarence House’s annual review revealed that Charles’s bill for the activities of both the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – plus other expenditure including the prince’s capital expenditure and transfer to reserves in 2020/2021 – was £4.4million.
This was a fall of £1.15million – around 21 per cent – from £5.6million in 2019/2020 – the last year the Sussexes were working royals.
How pandemic helped cost of travel plummet 40%
The cost of royal travel to the taxpayer plummeted over the past year as, along with the rest of us, the family’s wings were clipped.
Spending on official trips fell from to £5.3million to £3.2million, a reduction of almost 40 per cent.
The most expensive single trip was a £58,993 overnight visit by the Prince of Wales who flew by private jet to pay the nation’s condolences following the death of the Emir of Kuwait last October.
Second was the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s £47,965 Christmas UK tour on the Royal Train to thank frontline staff and those who had gone above and beyond for their communities during the pandemic.
Charles and Camilla’s official visit to Germany amounted to £42,486, while the Queen ran up a bill of £32,791 flying to and from Balmoral, her Scottish home, by private jet last summer.
Royal aides point out that foreign tours are conducted at the request of the British Government, which sees the Royal Family as an important tool in its use of ‘soft diplomacy’.
Officials warned yesterday that, while the bill would rise again when travel restrictions eased, there would be more of an emphasis on having a ‘blend’ of in-person and virtual engagements in the future.
One senior royal aide said building relationships in person still very much mattered, but, in terms of both costs and the environment, it made sense to adapt to a more digital way of working where possible.
The report provided no detailed breakdown of the figures and royal aides declined to elucidate further.
But what is clear from the independently audited accounts is that Harry and Meghan were still listed as receiving money from Charles’s Duchy of Cornwall income, despite quitting the monarchy at the end of March last year.
A senior Clarence House spokesman said: ‘As we’ll all remember, in January 2020 when the duke and duchess announced that they were going to move away from the working Royal Family, the duke said that they would work towards becoming financially independent. The Prince of Wales allocated a substantial sum to support them with this transition. That funding ceased in the summer of last year. The couple are now financially independent.’
The spokesman added: ‘I betray no confidence when I say they’ve been very successful in becoming financially independent.’ And when quizzed on the discrepancy in Harry’s remarks, the spokesman said: ‘I wouldn’t acknowledge that they are dramatically different. All I can tell you are the facts.’
Harry and Meghan have signed multi-million-pound deals with Netflix and Spotify, with the duke telling Miss Winfrey he secured these to pay for his family’s ‘security’.
Yet he claimed that when the couple moved to North America, he only had what Diana had left him – £7million at the time – and ‘without that we would not have been able to do this’.
In the couple’s explosive interview with Miss Winfrey in March, Harry gave a typically emotional description of his situation, saying: ‘My family literally cut me off financially and I had to afford security for us… in the first quarter of 2020.
‘But I’ve got what my mum left me – without that we would not have been able to do this.
‘I think she [my mother] saw it coming. I certainly felt her present throughout this whole process.’
The couple emigrated first to Canada and then to California, where – despite their apparent penury – they bought an £11million family home in Montecito.
They have also set up their own film and audio company, as well as their Archewell Foundation.
Buckingham Palace also confirmed yesterday that the probe into allegations of bullying against Meghan was still being investigated. It stressed that no money from the public purse was being used to finance the review but refused to confirm where that money was coming from.
The Clarence House accounts also showed that Charles’s annual income from the Duchy of Cornwall profits fell this year to £20.4million – a drop of £1.8million or 8 per cent – as a result of the pandemic.
The prince also voluntarily paid more tax, an increase of 3 per cent from £4.86million to £5.02million.
Harry and Meghan have signed multi-million-pound deals with Netflix and Spotify, with the duke telling Oprah Winfrey he secured these to pay for his family’s ‘security’. Pictured: Harry and Meghan appear on his AppleTV+ show with Winfrey
No visitors at palace leave the Queen £10m out of pocket
The Queen has been left with a £10million shortfall in her finances as a result of the pandemic.
Buckingham Palace revealed yesterday that it had lost just over half its annual income outside of Government funding after closing to visitors.
It meant the royal household was forced to break into its savings.
Income plunged from £20.2million in 2019/20 to £9.4million in 2020/21. Meanwhile, its property maintenance bill soared from £38.4million to £49.5 million as part of its planned upgrade of the Queen’s official residence.
The sovereign grant, the pot of money given to the monarch by Government which is based on the income surplus from The Crown Estate two years ago, increased by £3.5million to £85.9million during 2020/21.
It was comprised of a core element of £51.5million that funds the Queen’s official duties and her household, plus an additional £34.4million to pay for reservicing costs at the palace.
In all, the monarchy cost the taxpayer £87.5million in 2020/21 – an increase of £18.1million on the previous financial year. This was because of the ramping-up of palace building works.
An unexpected payment from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex saved the palace from having to dip into its savings more than it feared.
Their unplanned decision to pay back £2.4million of public money spent on the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage was described by senior royals aides as a ‘good deal’ for taxpayers.
Harry and Meghan announced last year that they had decided to reimburse the cost of turning five staff cottages into their family home at Windsor as part of their ‘clean break’ with the Royal Family and to prevent further public criticism.
The financial report further suggested that the Sussexes paid five months of rent on the property after stepping down as working royals and have the lease at least until March 2022. As a result, Buckingham Palace needed to ‘draw down’ on its reserves only to the tune of £2.3million.
Sir Michael Stevens, keeper of the privy purse, said yesterday: ‘We will not be going into the detail of the commercial arrangement for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s use of the house but please remember the payment covers all their current obligations.
‘We are confident that it represents a good outcome for the sovereign grant. The return on investment in the refurbished property has been determined with reference to independent property specialists and the accounting treatment signed off by Her Majesty’s Treasury and the National Audit Office.’
The palace also had to ‘borrow’ an extra £6million from savings, specifically for the palace refurbishment works.
Sir Michael also said staff had ‘tightened their belts’, cutting costs across all areas without job losses, including a pay and recruitment freeze.
Staff diversity ‘not what we’d like it to be’
Buckingham Palace has admitted it needs to do more to promote staff diversity in the wake of Harry and Meghan’s claims of racism within the Royal Family.
Honours in the flesh
After waiting more than a year, dozens of recipients were finally given their honours yesterday at the first major royal investiture ceremony since the pandemic began.
The events are normally attended by up to 100 recipients, joined by their families.
But the number at yesterday’s event at St James’s Palace, overseen by Prince Charles, was slimmed down to 32 to reduce the potential spread of coronavirus.
Rather than receiving their insignia directly from the prince, the awards were instead picked up from a cushion as he looked on.
The guests, whose honours were announced in 2019, had to wear masks, present a negative Covid test and pass a temperature check.
For the first time, officials yesterday unveiled figures showing how many staff are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.
Just 8.5 per cent of those working for the Queen come from ethnic minority backgrounds, while the figure is 8 per cent at Clarence House, where the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall live.
This compares with 13 per cent of the UK, according to the 2011 census.
A senior Buckingham Palace source openly admitted it ‘must do more’ and is ‘not where it would like to be’ in terms of diversity.
It has set a target of 10 per cent for 2022.
The palace’s decision to voluntarily reveal its figures comes after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex sensationally accused Royal Family members and the monarchy of racism in their Oprah Winfrey interview in March.
Meghan accused a senior royal of expressing ‘concern’ about the colour of her baby’s skin. Harry also claimed racism was a ‘large part’ of why the couple left Britain.
The Queen issued a statement at the time saying: ‘The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning.
‘While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.’
The Queen’s household brought in a change to its diversity strategy in early 2020, before the Oprah interview, to emphasise inclusion.
A senior aide at Clarence House said they also accepted they needed to do more on the issue of diversity. Kensington Palace did not publish its figures.