The Duke and Duchess of Sussex dropped a bombshell statement last night announcing they wished to step down from their royal duties and become ‘financially independent’.
The couple have been accused by former staff of wanting to ‘have their cake and eat it’ by hanging on to expensive royal privileges despite quitting the Royal Family.
They want to keep Grade-II listed Frogmore Cottage – recently renovated with £2.4m of taxpayers’ money – as their London residence.Taxpayers funded the upgrade after they rejected a home in the grounds of Kensington Palace, saying they wanted a place of their own.
The Sussexes also made clear last night they expect taxpayers to continue to fund their security costs as “internationally protected people”.Harry, Meghan and baby Archie currently have up to six permanent Scotland Yard bodyguards costing around £750,000 a year.
The couple want to live in Canada the rest of the time and be free to make their own money through merchandise deals and showbiz careers by leaving the Royal Family.One frustrated aide told the Daily Mail: “People had bent over backwards for them. They were given the wedding they wanted, the house they wanted, the office they wanted, the money they wanted, the staff they wanted, the tours they wanted and had the backing of their family. What more did they want?”
Last night’s statement was released without warning the Queen, Prince Charles or Prince William, who are understood to have found out on television.The Queen has been left “deeply upset” by the announcement and Prince Charles and Prince William are said to be “incandescent with rage.”Another royal source said: “It’s deeply unfair to the Queen who doesn’t deserve to be treated this way. It is a shoddy way to treat her.
“The family understands that they want to do something different and is perfectly willing to help them. People are just devastated.”In a curt statement Buckingham Palace said the couple had been in early talks about their future roles but nothing had been finalised – suggesting it had been blindsided by the announcement.
The statement said: “Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage.”We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work though.”The Sussexes have been ‘prohibited from earning any income in any form’ – but could now pull in huge sums on the international celebrity circuit.
Prince Harry could join the world’s top speakers in demanding up to £400,000 for a single address at private events.He has become an accomplished public speaker in recent years through his roles in leading the Invictus Games and other charity commitments.
The Sussexes recently trademarked 100 items including clothing, calendars and postcards – hinting they may be set to start selling their own merchandise.Before marrying Harry, Meghan earned around £60,000 a year through her lifestyle blog The Tig and could be expected to rake in much more now given her status across the globe.She also previously commanded £330,000 a series for her role US drama series Suits and would demand much higher fees if she were to return to acting.
Harry and Meghan currently benefit from around £2 million per year from Prince Charles’ Duchy of Cornwall income.The couple said last night five per cent of their office costs come from the Queen’s £82m-a-year funding stream for Royal Family members who carry out official duties.
They also live in the Queen’s Frogmore Cottage – recently renovated by taxpayers at a cost of £2.4m – rent free.Prince Harry, 35, has an estimated personal fortune of around £30 million.Prince William and Harry were left around £70m in trust by the Queen Mother and around £15m by Princess Diana.