Frogmore Cottage: nine surprising facts about Prince Harry and Meghan’s home — from the frogs to the big-budget soundproofing
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex confirmed on Wednesday, via a spokesperson, that they have been “requested to vacate their residence at Frogmore Cottage” in Windsor.
Interest in the couple’s former UK base is high, as is speculation about which member of the royal family may take up residency there next.
Here are nine things you may not yet know about the Windsor Estate home.
1. The cottage was originally named Double Garden Cottage
But it earned its current name thanks to the unusual number of frogs living in this low lying, marshy spot close to the River Thames. In 1875 Queen Victoria commented in her diaries on the “immense number of little frogs” she saw while breakfasting at the cottage. She described the spectacle as “quite disgusting … the paths had to be swept over and over again”.
2. It cost just £450 to build
The 10-bedroom cottage was built as a retreat for Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III, in 1801. At the time it was very fashionable for wealthy landed gentry to build large but rustic-style cottages on their estates, and the Queen and her daughters used it as a retreat from life at court.
Royal records suggest constructing the cottage cost £450 — or £52,991.04 in today’s money.
3. But it cost £2.4 million to renovate
Harry and Meghann were given a lease on the cottage as a wedding gift from the Queen; an apartment had originally been earmarked for them at Kensington Palace but the reported souring of their relationship with Prince William and the Princess of Wales caused a change of plan.
Renovating the cottage for the newlyweds cost £2.4 million of taxpayer’s money. The Sussexes, who later repaid the cash, lived there from April 2019 until their move to the US at the end of March 2020. They have since used it for short visits to the UK, most recently for the Queen’s funeral. This means that living at the cottage has effectively cost them around £63,000 per night.
4. Sound-proofing from the Heathrow flight path cost £50,000
The project included £50,000 for soundproofing and triple glazed windows, to block the noise of the 28-or-so Heathrow planes that pass within a mile of the house every hour.
5. Harry and Meghan added a California-style veg plot
The couple had an organic vegetable plot added to the garden, and had planned to grow herbs, fruit, and vegetables. In an interview when she was still an actress the duchess enthused about the benefits of home-grown produce. Growing up in southern California... I loved gardening and growing my own vegetables,” she said. “That farm-to-table ethos was ingrained at such a young age”.
6. It has had a Soho House makeover
Harry and Meghann called upon the talents of interior designer Vicky Charles of Charles & Co design studio to create the interiors. Charles had worked for Soho House, where the couple had their first date, for two decades, before setting up her own practice and designed Soho Farmhouse in the Cotswolds where the couple have enjoyed country getaways.
7. But also boasts Ikea staples
When the couple moved to the USA they left most of their furniture at the cottage, taking only personal items with them. In an interview with The Cut the duchess described packing items including “good old Ikea frames”, diaries, and socks.”
8. The cottage has been lived in by everyone from servants to Russian royals
Pre-Prince Harry and Meghann, the Grade II-listed cottage provided a home for a varied roll call of royals and royal servants. Queen Victoria’s Indian attendant Abdul Karim lived there at the turn of the last century (their relationship was explored in the Stephen Frears film Victoria & Abdul). A few years later, surviving relatives of Tsar Nicholas II moved in after escaping to the UK following the Russian Revolution. It was later divided into five flats, used by Windsor estate workers.
9. Queen Victoria is buried on the same grounds
The cottage, owned by the Crown Estate, is set within the 33-acre Frogmore estate, half a mile’s walk from Windsor Castle. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are buried in a mausoleum on the estate.