Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have reportedly handed the keys of Frogmore Cottage over to Princess Eugenie after clearing out the property ‘in the dead of night.’
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who currently reside in an £11million mansion in California, are said to have emptied the house in what an insider claims is a ‘pretty strong sign’ the couple have ‘no plans to return.’
Eugenie, 30, and her husband Jack Brooksbank, 34, moved into the five-bedroom home in Windsor two weeks ago, according to The Sun.
The pair, who married at St George’s Chapel in October 2018, are expecting their first child in the New Year and are said to be ‘delighted’ with Frogmore Cottage.
An insider has claimed Harry and Meghan had their possessions shipped off to California after ‘removal vans pitched up in the dead of night and cleared out the cottage.’
The couple spent £2.4million from the Sovereign Grant on renovations – an outlay of public money which became controversial after they quit as working royals in March.
But the Sussexes reimbursed taxpayers in full for the renovation in September.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry (pictured) have reportedly handed the keys of Frogmore Cottage over to Princess Eugenie after clearing out the property ‘in the dead of night’
Eugenie, 30, and her husband Jack Brooksbank (pictured), 34, moved into the five-bedroom home in Windsor two weeks ago, reports claim
The source added: ‘Emptying their home and handing over the keys is a pretty strong sign Harry and Meghan have no plans to return.
‘It appears they are tying up loose ends as they plan to extend their stay in the US perhaps permanently.’
Last night, a source said Harry and Meghan will retain Frogmore Cottage as their home in Britain, and suggested when visiting the UK they will share it with Eugenie and Mr Brooksbank.
Suspicions were reportedly raised after lights were spotted inside the cottage around two weeks ago. Staff are said to have been sent in to prepare the home for its new tenants.
Princess Eugenie, the younger daughter of Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, and Mr Brooksbank had been living at Ivy Cottage at Kensington Palace.
The couple will now be much closer to the Princess’s parents, who live four miles away at Royal Lodge, Windsor Great Park, and less than a mile from Windsor Castle, where the Queen is spending lockdown with Prince Philip.
The property, which was gifted to the couple by the Queen ahead of their wedding in May 2018, remains Harry and Meghan’s UK residence.
The insider added: ‘Frogmore was kitted out to Meghan and Harry’s tastes with son Archie in mind, so it is the perfect place for a couple to bring up a baby.’
Buckingham Palace said it could not comment on whether Princess Eugenie and her husband are going to be paying rent on the Crown Estate property – and if so, to whom – or how long the arrangement was due to last.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘Frogmore Cottage is the private residence of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and as such any arrangements are a matter for them.’
The pair, who married at St George’s Chapel in October 2018, are expecting their first child and are said to be ‘delighted’ with Frogmore Cottage (pictured)
Harry and Meghan’s furniture is being shipped to their £11million mansion in California (pictured) after they allegedly gave away the keys to Frogmore Cottage, in Windsor,
The reported change in tenant comes after Harry and Meghan reimbursed taxpayers in full for the £2.4million used to renovate the Windsor home.
The couple – who had been paying back the cash in monthly instalments – announced in September that they had totally refunded the Sovereign Grant for the redevelopment of five-bedroom Frogmore Cottage on the Queen’s Berkshire estate.
Sources close to the couple also claimed that they would no longer be receiving handouts from Prince Charles as they sought to establish ‘financial independence’.
At the time Harry and Meghan insisted Frogmore would continue to be their UK residence.
It was revealed in the wake of the couple’s decision to step back from their royal roles and to live in America that the Prince of Wales would make a private financial contribution to help them during their first year away.
A source told The Telegraph: ‘They are not receiving support in any way shape or form from any external person other than themselves.’
However, another source told the Mail that the move, which came after it was revealed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had secured a lucrative deal to produce shows for streaming giant Netflix, said to be worth in the region of $100million (£75million), would not make them immune to scrutiny.
The source said: ‘This has come as something of a surprise,’ they admitted, ‘and it can only be assumed this has something to do with the Netflix deal. Maybe it now means he can afford to pay the money back in full at once or maybe he has been irritated by the criticism that the deal has led to of his finances. No one really knows.
It is understood Eugenie (pictured with her husband) and her cousin reached a ‘private agreement’ over the Grade II-listed cottage though it is not known how long it will last
An insider has claimed Harry and Meghan had their prized possessions shipped off to California after ‘removal vans pitched up in the dead of night and cleared out the cottage’
‘But if he thinks that it will make him immune from public and media scrutiny, he is misguided.
‘This new, highly visible media role that he is seeking in the US makes him more of a public figure than ever.’
The £2.4million in public money that was used to convert Frogmore from what had been five small staff cottages into a larger country home for the couple has been a particular bone of contention since they quit as working royals in January.
Critics had argued that not only should the cash be refunded in full after their move to California, but they should also forfeit their right to even live at Frogmore, which was given to them by the Queen.
Those calls intensified after they recently bought an £11million nine-bedroom, 16-bathroom mansion in Montecito, Santa Barbara, with a £7.5million mortgage.
Until September, the couple had been paying back the money at a rate of £18,000 a month – a figure which also covered ‘rent’ on the property.
This meant it would have taken them 11 years to repay the British taxpayer, a timeframe that many felt was far too long given the couple’s earning potential.
Frogmore, which was given to the couple from the Queen through her Crown Estate, had fallen into disrepair before they moved in.
Builders worked around the clock for six months so they could move in before the birth of their son Archie in May 2019.
The couple chose to move out of Kensington Palace following their disagreement with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
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