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Harry and Meghan’s biographer blasts William and Kate’s high home renovation costs

The biographer of “Finding Freedom,” the flattering biography of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, has again come to the couple’s defense by questioning what he sees as a double-standard in the media’s reporting about Prince William and Kate Middleton, who also have used millions in taxpayer funds to fix up their palatial homes.

In a new column, Yahoo’s royal executive editor Omid Scobie, a known advocate for Harry and Meghan, described how the couple have faced scrutiny for their renovation and real estate choices, while the media tends to portray William and Kate’s choices as a necessary investment in royal business and as the couple looking out for their young children’s safety, privacy and best interests.

In light of news that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge may be picking up a third home — a cottage near Windsor Castle for their main residence — Scobie has raised questions about the $5.4 million in British taxpayer money that was spent to modernize their four-story apartment in Kensington Palace, where they have lived for nine years.

Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, arrive to the Intrepid, Sea Air & Space Museum’s inaugural Intrepid Valor Awards on November 10, 2021 in New York. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP) (Photo by BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images) 

Scobie suggested that little fuss was made in the media when it was revealed in 2014 that the renovations, including the couple’s personal touches, cost such an “eye-watering” amount, or that the the Cambridges added $1.2 million to the costs in 2019 when they had a new driveway installed. The costs were justified as a necessary investment for a future king and his wife, who planned to use the apartment as permanent base to work and raise a family. Now it’s been learned that the apartment won’t be the Cambridges’ “forever” home,” and they’ll be heading to Windsor, the royal version of the suburbs, Scobie said.

“It’s a decision that has raised a few eyebrows, particularly at a time when the country is dealing with a major cost of living crisis,” Scobie wrote. “Picking up a third home, especially when one of them cost the public so much to renovate, is hardly the norm for regular folk.”

When it comes to news about extravagant royal spending on homes, the media tends to focus on Harry and Meghan, Scobie suggested. Indeed, much continues to be made about how the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge paid $14 million for their nine-bedroom, 16-bath mansion in Montecito after they stepped away from royal life and moved to California in 2020.

The U.K. media also excoriated the Sussexes for the $2.8 million in taxpayer money that was spent to upgrade their 10-bedroom U.K. home, Frogmore Cottage at Windsor Castle, in 2019. The cries of protest grew louder after they ended up living in Frogmore Cottage only a few months before leaving the U.K. in late 2019. In response to the criticism, Harry and Meghan repaid the Frogmore Cottage costs after moving to the United States.

Meanwhile, William and Kate have long been celebrated for leading a relatively simple life when it comes to royals, Scobie said. For example, it was seen as “refreshing” when the newlyweds spent about $900 a month on a farmhouse in Wales, Scobie said.

The narrative about Adelaide Cottage, their new home in Windsor, is that it’s unpretentious and will only have four bedrooms and therefore won’t have room for live-in staff, including a nanny. The couple’s three children, George, Louis and Charlotte, also will have lots of room — 655 acres — to run around on. During school holidays, the children will continue to have lots of outside places to play at Anmer, the Cambridges’ country estate in Norfolk, which was a wedding gift from the Queen.

Scobie said it might soothe people’s concerns about money spent on Apartment 1A if the couple continue to use it for their London offices. They probably will stay there if they need to be in the city for official business. They also may return to Kensington Palace after their children are grown up, he added.

“Apartment 1A will always be their official residence,” a royal source told Scobie.

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