An annual report into the taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant that finances the Royal Family’s public duties confirmed Harry and Meghan had sorted their debt despite the pandemic, according to People.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle repaid just over C$4 million to the Royal Family to cover rent and renovations on Frogmore Cottage.
“The payment covers all their current obligations,” Sir Michael Stevens, Keeper of the Privy Purse, told reporters Wednesday.
“We are confident that it represents a good outcome,” he added. “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made a substantial contribution to the Sovereign Grant that covered the refurbishment costs of Frogmore Cottage.
“It should also be remembered that this payment has come in the current year at a time where our supplementary income has reduced dramatically,” he added, referencing the 53 per cent fall in tourism-related finances experienced by the royal household as a result of the COVID pandemic. “[Harry and Meghan’s payment] has helped to offset the reduction that we would have seen.”
The Frogmore Cottage remains licensed to the couple until March 31, 2022. Harry and Meghan lived there until they officially stepped down as senior members of the royals on March 31, 2020. They now live in California with their two-year-old son Archie and newborn daughter Lilibet Diana.
The couple previously paid five months’ rent on the property, which is now home to Princess Eugenie, Jack Brooksbank and their baby son August, before providing the lump sum of just over $4 million.
Harry headed back to the cottage to quarantine ahead of Prince Philip’s funeral on April 17. He’s also expected to quarantine there when he returns for the July 1 unveiling of the Princess Diana statue at Kensington Palace Gardens to mark what would have been the late royal’s 60th birthday.
The Sovereign Grant report also touched on diversity and inclusion, issues that hit headlines earlier this year when Meghan mentioned during the Oprah Winfrey interview there were comments made about the possible tone of Archie’s skin.
The report showed that just 8.5 per cent of staff were drawn from minorities.
Stevens responded, “We recognize that despite all our efforts to target recruitment, train our managers in diversity and inclusion, and to build an inclusive workplace, the results are not what we would like. But we are committed to improving this and hence we have started to publish, for the first time, our diversity statistics to ensure that we are both open and transparent about our efforts to improve.
“It is worth saying that Her Majesty and the members of the Royal Family have promoted and embraced the diversity of our nation and that of the Commonwealth, and we, therefore, recognize that our own workforce needs to reflect the communities that we serve.”
The Sovereign Grant report showed that the Royal Household had now set a target of increasing the proportion of ethnic minority employees to 10 per cent by 2022.
“It is not that we have not been progressing diversity and inclusion initiatives during this period, it is that simply the results have not been what we would like,” Stevens shared. “One of the key points about the publishing of our statistics here, which is actually on a voluntary basis, is that there is no place to hide.”