The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have paid back £2.4 million for the renovations to their Frogmore Cottage home, it has been confirmed.
The Duke has now paid the money from the couple’s private income to the Sovereign Grant fund, the Telegraph has learned, as they sever a further tie with Britain's public purse.
The sum, used to convert the Windsor cottage into a family home for the Sussexes, has been a particular bone of contention, with critics calling for it to be returned to the British taxpayer now that Prince Harry and Meghan have left Royal duties behind for “financial independence” in America.
They were last week revealed to have signed multi-year Netflix production deal, estimated to be worth many millions of dollars, and have bought a £11 million home in Santa Barbara with a £7.5m mortgage.
A spokesman for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said: “A contribution has been made to the Sovereign Grant by The Duke of Sussex.
"This contribution as originally offered by Prince Harry has fully covered the necessary renovation costs of Frogmore Cottage, a property of Her Majesty The Queen, and will remain the UK residence of the Duke and his family.”
The Sussexes have been particularly concerned with removing what they see as unjustified "public interest" in their new lives from the British media.
Until now, they had begun the process of paying back the £2.4 million at a rate of £18,000 a month - meaning it would have taken them 11 years to repay the British taxpayer - in a deal heavily criticised by those who felt they could afford to do it sooner.
They are understood to be keeping Frogmore Cottage as their UK base, intending to make use of it throughout the year for working visits once the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic ease.
The cottage is still owned by the Crown Estate, with the “Sandringham settlement” in January seeing them continue to pay rent on it.
A source close to the Sussexes separately confirmed that they are no longer receiving financial support from The Prince of Wales, from either the Duchy of Cornwall or his private income.
The move to pay off the Frogmore Cottage money is part of Prince Harry and Meghan’s mission to remove the public interest in their new lives.
In recent months, they have moved to emphasise their lack of reliance on British taxpayers funds, first taking over the funding of their own security and now paying back the Sovereign Grant.
In a statement in January, they confirmed their wish to “live a more independent life as a family, by removing the supposed ‘public interest’ justification for media intrusion into their lives”.
Confirmation of the £2.4m payment comes after significant pressure following news of their Netflix deal.
Speaking this weekend, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, deputy chair of parliament's public accounts committee, told the Telegraph: "Clearly anyone who has borrowed taxpayers' cash needs to pay it back as quickly as possible. £2.4 million is a lot and even if you paid back £250,000 a year it would still take a decade."
Bim Afolami, a former member of the committee, which scrutinises public spending, agreed, saying: "If the Royal family wants to subsidise Harry and Meghan that's fine but the state should not pay for that. They need to pay the money back now."
Situated in front of a lake and Frogmore House, where Prince Harry and Meghan hosted their wedding reception in May 2018, the Grade-II five-bedroom property was remodelled before the couple moved there in April 2019.