A former minister has called for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to relinquish their titles and repay the £2.4million spent on renovating their official residence after they said they want to quit as senior members of the royal family.
Norman Baker, a former Liberal Democrat MP and a Home Office minister in the coalition government, said ‘you can’t be one foot in, one foot out’.
He also said the Duke and Duchess of Sussex should hand back the public money spent on overhauling Frogmore Cottage, the Grade II-listed property near Windsor Castle, which the couple intend to keep.
Meanwhile, MPs have accused Prince Harry and Ms Markle of wanting to ‘have their cake and eat it’ after they said they want to be able to earn a professional income while also retaining some royal financial backing.
Mr Baker, who remains a member of the Privy Council, told the Express: ‘You are either a member of the royal family or you are not.’
He said that Prince Harry is ‘entitled in my view to absent himself and become a private citizen’.
‘But what he can’t do is becoming a private citizen, not doing royal duties and still have the state paying for him,’ he added.
‘He should give the money back spent on Frogmore Cottage and pay himself for the jets between the UK and America. And pay for his security.’
The couple said all travel arrangements in their private time ‘will continue to be paid for privately and not by UK taxpayers’ but security costs are likely to still be picked up by the public.
The bombshell announcement made by Prince Harry and Ms Markle last night has sparked a wave of questions over what their future status as members of the royal family will look like.
There is growing speculation over whether they will be able to retain their Duke and Duchess titles if they proceed with their plan to earn their own income.
They said in a statement published on their website: ‘We intend to step back as “senior” members of the Royal Family, and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.’
They did not address the issue of titles in the statement but they do appear to be planning to turn their ‘Sussex Royal’ moniker into a global brand, having trademarked it on more than 100 items.
The announcement has prompted intense scrutiny of the couple’s finances with the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage having been funded by the Sovereign Grant.
The Sovereign Grant is the annual funding mechanism that covers the work of the royal family in support of the Queen, including expenses to maintain official residences and workspaces, and pay for official royal travel.