Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been evicted from their U.K. home at the request of Harry’s dad, King Charles III.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex had been allocated Frogmore Cottage on the grounds of Windsor Castle as their main residence when they were working royals, but now several publications report that the property is being offered to Charles’ disgraced brother Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.
The cottage was a wedding gift to the couple from the late queen, and when they left the U.K. for California in 2020 they said Frogmore Cottage would remain their home base while visiting.
“We can confirm The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been requested to vacate their residence at Frogmore Cottage,” a spokesperson for the couple said in a statement Wednesday.
While Buckingham Palace has not issued its own statement about the eviction notice, reports say that Charles began the process on Jan. 11 — one day after the publication of Harry’s best-selling explosive memoir, Spare.
The palace cut off royal police protection for the couple and their children when visiting the U.K., making Frogmore Cottage the only remaining space that would meet their security needs when visiting. It’s where they stayed when visiting Queen Elizabeth during their Platinum Jubilee visit in 2022 and is covered by the Metropolitan Police’s Royalty and Specialist Protection Unit.
However, it appears the property will no longer be an option for them on future visits.
It’s no secret that the rift between Harry and his family has deepened since the publication of his book, which included his account of private and sometimes unflattering conversations and encounters with his father, as well as his brother Prince William.
The history of Frogmore Cottage
The cottage itself dates back to 1792 when Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, had it built as a place for her and her daughters to have a break from royal life.
It’s been home to many, including surviving relatives of Tsar Nicholas II, who fled to the U.K. after the murders of family members by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
From the Second World War onward, it was used for members of the royal staff until the Duke and Duchess moved in.
There was controversy when Harry and Meghan undertook extensive renovations to the cottage in 2018 and 2019, to the tune of approximately CA$4 million in taxpayer funds. In 2020, the couple announced they had paid back the refurbishment cost in full.
The Prince Andrew connection
Several U.K. publications are reporting that Prince Andrew has been offered the keys to Frogmore after he was told he must move out from his current home — the nearby Royal Lodge mansion — by August.
Reports suggest the King will cut off Andrew’s annual grant (an allowance of more than CA$400,000) making him unable to afford the costs of keeping the lights on at the Royal Lodge.
Andrew stepped down as a working royal in 2019, and was stripped of his royal titles and patronages last year, after allegations that he had sexually assaulted Jeffrey Epstein survivor Virginia Giuffre.
While he has repeatedly denied the allegations, he paid an undisclosed sum in February 2022 to settle the civil sex assault case brought against him by Giuffre.
The implication for the coronation
Omid Scobie, a royal editor and reporter for Yahoo! UK, writes that the eviction “has left Harry and Meghan stunned, and at least two members of the Royal Family ‘appalled.'”
“It all feels very final and like a cruel punishment,” a friend of the couple told Scobie. “It’s like (the family) want to cut them out of the picture for good.”
Scobie notes, however, that the move-out deadline has been extended to after Charles’ coronation, which would give Harry and Meghan protection if they choose to return to the U.K. to celebrate the King’s official crowning.
It remains unclear if Harry and Meghan will be invited to the May festivities, or if they will attend.