- According to a "forensic audit," Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (opens in new tab) may have cost the British public as much as $53 million in their two years as working royals.
- The claim comes from Norman Baker (opens in new tab), a British politician and author with a history of being critical of the royal family.
- In a piece for the Daily Mail, Baker broke down where the millions he claims Harry and Meghan cost Brits went.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal exit (opens in new tab) has been controversial to say the least. Now, a British politician is claiming that it might have cost the British people more than heartache—to the tune of more than $50 million.
Norman Baker, a former Liberal Democrat for East Sussex and author of … And What Do You Do? (opens in new tab) (which, for the record is a book that's definitely critical of the royal family, so he's not an unbiased judge by any means) is speaking out about a forensic audit he says points to just how much the Sussex family have cost British taxpayers (opens in new tab).
"From their wedding day to March 31 this year, I estimate the British taxpayer has forked out more than £44 million ($53 million) to provide Harry and Meghan with, it seems, whatever they want," Baker wrote in the Daily Mail (opens in new tab).
Baker went on to breakdown the biggest places that money went, estimating that it was spent as follows:
Renovations to Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace: £1.4 million (about $1.7 million)
When Harry and Meghan first wed, they lived in Nottingham Cottage, a Victorian house on the grounds of Kensington Palace. They were originally set to move from the cottage to Apartment 1 in the palace. The 21-room apartment was much larger than Nottingham Cottage, which had been Harry's bachelor pad before settling down.
In what is assumed to be preparation for Harry and Meghan's move-in, Apartment 1 underwent extensive renovations, including roof repairs and replacement windows, which Baker says probably would not have been done if Harry and Meghan weren't expected to move in. The total price tag: An estimated £1.4 million (or roughly $1.7 million).
Renovations to Frogmore Cottage in Windsor: £2.4 million (about $2.9 million)
Baker also pointed to the renovations made to Harry and Meghan's Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage, in his figures. While the renovations, which he estimates coming in at £2.4 million (about $2.9 million), were extensive, Harry and Meghan committed to repaying these costs as part of their royal exit plan (opens in new tab) announced earlier this year.
Staff salaries for their two years as working royals: £592,000 (about $720,000)
This one doesn't quite feel fair, but it's a significant part of Baker's calculations so we'll include it. He estimates that Harry and Meghan's staff cost about £592,000 (a little more than $720,000) to employ during their two years as working royals. Of course, since Harry and Meghan were working royals and needed a staff to support that work (as do all working royals), it doesn't seem fair to hold this figure against them.
According to Baker, some of the top-earning members of the Sussexes' royal staff included a private secretary (paid an estimated £146,000 per year) as well as an assistant private secretary, a communications secretary, and an assistant communications secretary (all of whom could have commanded as much as £150,000 per year, apparently).
Security costs: £7 million ($8.5 million)
It's no secret that security is one of the most expensive parts of the royal family's budget, and Harry and Meghan were no exception to this rule.
Baker estimates that the Sussexes' security costs from Frogmore Cottage (where they stayed less than a year in all) probably cost about £4.5 million, while their other security costs during their two years as working royals likely totaled around £2.5 million. He describes these figures as a "conservative estimate" of what it probably cost to keep the couple safe.
The royal wedding: £33.5 million ($40.7 million)
The biggest line on the Sussexes' royal bill would definitely the cost of their 2018 royal wedding, which was a full-on event broadcast around the world.
Baker estimates the total cost of the affair to be £33.5 million (about $40,7 million), including £30 million for security at the event, £90,000 for new silver trumpets, and £390,000 for Meghan's wedding gown. He claims the royals only contribute £2 million to the costs, meaning the taxpayers picked up about 94 percent of the tab.
Other costs in the calculation:
- Loss of tax income from money Prince Charles spent on the Sussexes' expenses: £1.9 million
- Travel costs: £1 million
Again, Baker's stance on royal spending is pretty well-established (he's against it), so he's predisposed to be critical here and might not be an unbiased reporter of the data. Take this information with a grain of salt—but, if you're interested in royal budgetary issues, you can find an even more detailed breakdown from Baker at the Daily Mail (opens in new tab).
It's also worth noting that, regardless of how much Harry and Meghan may have cost taxpayers, the couple has already begun the process of paying back (opens in new tab) at least some of that debt—specifically the costs associated with their renovations of Frogmore Cottage (opens in new tab) in Windsor.
Meghan Markle's Most Iconic Fashion Moments
March 9, 2020
March 5, 2020
October 25, 2019
October 22, 2019
Meghan Markle arrives to the One Young World Summit in an Aritzia dress paired with Manolo Blahnik pumps (opens in new tab).
September 25, 2019
Meghan and Archie step out for Archie's first royal engagement during the tour in South Africa. She wore a Club Monaco dress and a pair of Jennifer Meyer turquoise earrings (opens in new tab).
September 23, 2019
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visit District 6 Museum in Cape Town, South Africa. Meghan wore a Veronica Beard blue button-down dress and Castañer espadrilles (opens in new tab).
September 12, 2019
The Duchess Of Sussex attends the launch of the Smart Works Capsule Collection, while wearing a Misha Nonoo button-down (opens in new tab) and wearing butterfly earrings and a cuff that once belonged to Princess Diana.
June 8, 2019
Meghan Markle steps out for her first royal appearance since giving birth. She attends the 2019 Trooping the Colour with Prince Harry in a Givenchy dress and hat by Noelle Stewart.
February 24, 2019
The Duchess Of Sussex wore Dior head to toe and Birks earrings (opens in new tab) while visiting Morocco.
February 24, 2019
The Duke and Duchess arrive to the "Education For All" boarding house in Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Meghan wore an Alice and Olivia blazer and Birdies slippers (opens in new tab).