- According to a "forensic audit," Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may have cost the British public as much as $53 million in their two years as working royals.
- The claim comes from Norman Baker, 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 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? (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.
"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.
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 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.
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 at least some of that debt—specifically the costs associated with their renovations of Frogmore Cottage in Windsor.
For more stories like this, including celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter.