Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Frogmore Cottage to have a new tenant?

June 2019, Trooping the Colour @Marlene Eilers Koenig

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's office have issued a statement confirming The Sun's exclusive report earlier today that the couple is being "evicted" from Frogmore Cottage.  '"We can confirm the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been requested to vacate their residence at Frogmore Cottage." 

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Frogmore Cottage is not a part of the Crown Estates.  This residence and Frogmore House are under the purview of the Sovereign. 

 On November 15, 2022, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) issued a statement from an unnamed individual who had filed a Freedom of Information Act request for communication between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex "from 1 July 2021 to 2 February 2022, in relation to Frogmore cottage and/or any other property and/or land holding owned and/or managed by the Crown Estate."

According to the 7-page statement released by the ICO. "The Crown Estate responded on 2 March 2022. It stated: “I can confirm that we hold no information relevant to your request; we hold no records of communications with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex over the time period you refer to.”

" On 11 November 2022, in response to the Commissioner’s enquiries, the Crown Estate set out the evidence for who owns and manages Frogmore Cottage in the following terms:  Frogmore Cottage forms part of Frogmore House and Gardens, which were annexed to Windsor Castle for use by the Sovereign in perpetuity by an enactment in 1841 under Queen Victoria [redacted]. 

"Frogmore Cottage is therefore a property which is at the disposal of His Majesty," a fact further reflected in section 5(5) of the Crown Estate Act 1961 which makes provision for such properties. As such, while the land on which Frogmore Cottage stands forms part of The Crown Estate it is, as part of Frogmore House and Gardens and while at the disposal of His Majesty, a property which the Crown Estate Commissioners are not permitted to sell, lease or deal within any way. 

 "The Commissioner considers that, although there are several websites that link Frogmore Cottage to the Crown Estate, it is not the case that the Crown Estate either owns or manages Frogmore Cottage. The Commissioner has seen a copy of the Act of 5 October 1841 which makes it clear that Frogmore cottage is part of Windsor Castle: “An Act for annexing the Mansion House, Gardens, and Grounds at Frogmore, Part of the Land Revenue of the Crown, to Windsor Castle”. The Act was debated in Parliament on 16 September 1841, a record of which is publicly available in Hansard."

Here is the text of the Act:

This "request to vacate" came from King Charles III, as he owns the property under the 1841 Act.  The late Queen Elizabeth II didn't give the cottage to her grandson.  She was his landlady.  

It is understood that the decision to end Harry's lease was made by the King on advisement shortly after the publication of Spare.   After the Duke refunded the £2.4 million back to the Sovereign Grant for Frogmore Cottage's original refurbishment, he reached an agreement that eliminated the commercial market rent they paid.

"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex made a contribution of £2.4 million to the Sovereign Grant which covered the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage. They have fulfilled their financial obligations in relation to the property," according to Buckingham Palace.

"In line with usual practice for the Sovereign Grant report, the accounting treatment was scrutinised and signed off by the National Audit Office and the Treasury. As with any such agreement between landlord and tenant, further details regarding the Sussexes' tenancy arrangements would be a private matter."

The Duke and Duchess were said to be "stunned" by the announcement.

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 One friend of the couple told Omid Scobie: “It all feels very final and like a cruel punishment. It’s like [the family] want to cut them out of the picture for good.”

Actions have consequences.

Harry chose to live in the United States. If he chooses to visit the UK, he is responsible for himself and his family, not his father or the taxpayers.  With the number of guns and mass shootings here in the US, I believe Harry (and all of us) are less safe here than if we lived in England!  [Scobie is not good at checking facts. In his Yahoo column, he writes: "Prior to getting the keys, the cottage had spent more than 90 years split into five separate units for estate workers."  This is incorrect. In 1933, Frogmore Cottage was the home of Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia, George V's first cousin, and a younger sister of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia.  King Edward VIII ordered Xenia to leave Frogmore Cottage in 1936.  She moved into Wilderness House at Hampton Court, where she died in 1960. ]

When Matt Wilkinson's exclusive story broke last night, the Duke and Duchess were having dinner at San Vicente Bungalows, a private members' club in West Hollywood.  I read in at least one article that cell phones are not allowed to be used in the Club, which meant that Harry would have learned about the Sun's report until after he and Meghan left the club.  This is incorrect. From the Club's Guidelines: 

 "Cell phones can be used to text, email, surf the web, etc., anywhere in the Club at any time.

  Cell phone conversations are allowed only in the Living Room, Pool House, and in the Smoking Garden (behind the Living Room) however cannot be conducted on "speaker" out of respect for your fellow members." 

The Sun's article set in motion a cross-section of views.  Supporters of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex began sending tweets referring to King Charles as cruel, as well as other malevolent and unkind comments. They see the Crown Estates' action as another attack on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. It is not.

In my view, there has been an excessive amount of coverage of the Sussexes ... for clickbait.  Harry wanted out of the Royal Family even before he met and married Meghan.  He and Meghan made the decision to pick up sticks and move across the ocean, first to Canada, and then to Montecito, California to start afresh as royals without portfolios.  

And then we have the haters of the couple, most of who are white women, not always well-educated, who spew vitriol every time they hit the keyboards.  They share poorly sourced articles. They support conspiracy theories (for the record: Archie and Lilibet came out of Meghan's womb and were not born through surrogacy.)  The Sun's report has led to a rush to the shops to purchase more boxes of Depends because their disturbed gleefulness has led to massive leakage!

If you do not like Harry and Meghan, ignore them.  Every hateful tweet makes your blood pressure go up another notch.

Actions have consequences.

The Duke of Sussex said that Frogmore Cottage was the "only place left that's safe" in the United Kingdom for him and his family.  The cottage is in Windsor Home Park, which includes Windsor Castle, Frogmore House, Adelaide Cottage, and other properties.   This area is not open to the public.  All of the roads that lead into the castle or the park are guarded with 24-hour security.  

Oh, Harry, you are wrong.  The fact that your lease has not been extended is due to your actions.   This doesn't mean there are no other safe places to stay.  If you choose to visit the UK in the future, you may have to pay for your security, but if you are visiting your family, it is possible that the king would invite you and your family to stay at Windsor Castle, which has plenty of rooms.  Many, many rooms.

Your clothing and furniture will not be tossed out of the cottage and onto the front lawn.  No bailiffs will show up to escort you out of the cottage.

Actions have consequences.

This brings us to the second exclusive in the Sun's story that Frogmore Cottage will be the Duke of York's new residence.  According to the Daily Express' royal reporter, Richard Palmer, the duke is "fighting tooth and nail" to prevent this move.

His situation is different.  The Duke of York has a 75-year lease with the Crown Estates for Royal Lodge.   In 2005, The National Audit Office issued a report: The Crown Estate - Property Leases with the Royal Family.

"On Royal Lodge

Royal Lodge occupies 40 hectares within the heart of Windsor Great Park. Under The Crown Estate Act, Windsor Great Park is to be maintained as a Royal Park within a designated area.

Royal Lodge falls within that designated area and includes within its boundary, although not part of the leased property itself, the private Royal Chapel. The Crown Estate Act states that “the Commissioners shall not sell or give in exchange any land forming part of the Windsor Estate”, except for a very specific provision relating to public or local authorities requiring land for development in the public interest. The properties within the Park may, however, be leased.

After the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, HRH the Duke of York approached The Crown Estate to express an interest in acquiring the leasehold of the property.

The Crown Estate has stressed to us that one of the options for the property was that it could have continued to be a “grace and favour” residence for the Royal Family but this option was declined by the Royal Family in favour of a commercial arrangement, providing income to The Crown Estate. If such an option had been chosen, not only would there have been a loss of income to The Crown Estate but The Crown Estate could have been required to undertake significant refurbishment.

The Crown Estate could have offered up the lease option to the wider market but did not, because of the sensitive location of the property in the centre of the Windsor Great Park with its consequential management considerations, and because of security concerns surrounding the Royal Family’s access to the Royal Chapel. It was The Crown Estate’s view that in the absence 

of the “grace and favour” option being followed it remained appropriate that the property should remain in Royal Family occupancy.

The terms of the August 2003 lease agreement between The Crown Estate and HRH the Duke of York prevent him from gaining financially from any increase in the value of the property, as the freehold rests with The Crown Estate and the leasehold cannot be assigned to anyone else except to his widow or his two daughters (or a trust established solely for their benefit). As part of the lease agreement, HRH the Duke of York is required to undertake substantial refurbishment work which must be completed within the first two years. The work to be undertaken by HRH the Duke of York is outlined in a schedule to the lease agreement and it gives an estimated cost of that work as being £7.5 million at September 2002 prices, exclusive of VAT. The Crown Estate has told us that it estimates that the agreed programme of work is now 95 percent complete.

Should HRH the Duke of York wish to terminate the lease, the property would then revert to The Crown Estate. The Crown Estate may then be required to pay him compensation in respect of the refurbishment costs incurred. The maximum compensation of just under £7 million is subject to annual reductions over the first 25 years of the term of the lease, so that at the end of that period, there is nil compensation payable.

After a process of negotiation, HRH the Duke of York secured the 75-year lease for a one-off premium payment of £1 million to The Crown Estate, as landlord. In coming to the arrangement with HRH the Duke of York, The Crown Estate appointed an agent to review the options available in respect of Royal Lodge; to provide a valuation of the property; and to advise on the expected annual rental value after completion of the estimated refurbishment. The Crown Estate estimated that the necessary refurbishment of the property would cost at least £5 million. The agents advised that HRH the Duke of York should pay a premium of £1 million and could be given the option to buy out the annual rental for an additional £2.5 million payment. Once HRH the Duke of York made his commitment to spend £7.5 million on refurbishment, the final settlement was reduced, on the basis of professional advice, to the £1 million premium. We have been told by The Crown Estate that the full costs of refurbishment have exceeded the £7.5 million commitment. The £1 million premium payment was determined by The Crown Estate’s agents using an assumption of £5 million refurbishment costs; a 5 per cent return for The Crown Estate; and a minimum notional rental sum of £260,000, as agreed in December 2002 by agents acting on behalf of both HRH the Duke of York and The Crown Estate.

The Crown Estate’s internal Investment Appraisal Committee considered the terms for letting Royal Lodge. The Committee approved the lease deal in principle, based on an outline proposal, and then approved the lease arrangement in March 2003. The Main Board of The Crown Estate was kept informed about the emerging lease agreement throughout the process.

Owing to the nature of this transaction, and the importance of being secure in their judgement, The Crown Estate appointed a second independent agent to assess the details of the lease deal.

This second agent concluded that the transaction was appropriate given the over-riding need to maintain close management control over Royal Lodge and also indicated that the security considerations had a very significant impact on The Crown Estate’s ability to realise the market rental value for a property of its size and type.

The Accounting Officer and the other Commissioners, having taken independent advice, judged this transaction to have satisfied The Crown Estate’s need to ensure propriety and value for money, taking into account the other, non-financial, considerations relating to the lease of this property.

The Annex to this document sets out information on the Royal Lodge lease agreement.

The Royal Household has not provided information on the number of rooms in the property occupied by HRH the Duke of York, as it claims that it is “personal information” under Section 40 of Part 2 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2000."

Royal Lodge has 30 rooms, NOT 30 BEDROOMS!   It is about a half mile from Cumberland Lodge and is located in Windsor Great Park, which is separate from the Home Park.  

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 In 1931, the Royal Lodge became the country residence of the Duke and Duchess of York and their young daughters, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.  The following year, the people of Wales gave Y Bwthyn Bach  (Little Welsh house) to Princess Elizabeth for her sixth birthday.  The house remains on the Royal Lodge Estate.  

All Saints Church, where Queen Elizabeth II often worshipped is also on the property.  This is the church where Princess Beatrice married in 2021.

Windsor Great Park is accessible to the public.  There are many residential areas within the park, available for rent, as well as Savill Gardens, the Guards Polo Club, Cumberland Lodge,  Royal Lodge, the Cumberland Obelisk, and the Copper Horse statue, which is at the southern end of Long Walk. [I have walked nearly the entire Windsor Great Park area from the Copper Horse statue all the way to Virginia Water.  Two different visits.  I also talked my way into Cumberland Lodge.

When Andrew was a working royal, he received approximately £250,000 per year from the Sovereign Grant,  which covered the expenses for his official duties and staff salaries.  Although never confirmed, the Queen continued to provide the funding after Andrew stepped down in May 2020 as a working royal. He has lost his office at Buckingham Palace.  

It is also being reported that Charles will not provide his brother with the annual payment to cover his staff expenses.  The Duke now has to cover the salaries of those who work for him at Royal Lodge.  He is well-off, but his income is based on trust funds and an annual Royal Navy pension, believed to be in the range of £20,000.

His alleged actions involving underaged women also have consequences.  

Andrew still has security because Royal Lodge is outside the security perimeter.  The entrance has 24-hour security.  It is a private home. There have been numerous reports about ending Andrew's security. It would be foolhardy to remove the security from the entrance to Royal Lodge (even if it is empty). 

It is realistic for the King to want his brother to move into a small house with fewer expenses. Andrew is an empty nester. He and his former wife, Sarah, live in the Lodge with their dogs and staff.  Their daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie are married and have families of their own.  Perhaps it is time to downsize and move into something smaller.  Yes,  Frogmore Cottage is not a mansion, but it is not a hovel, either.

The cost of a cleaning lady will be a lot less than the cost of Royal Lodge's housekeeping staff.  There is a nice garden to potter around in.   A perfect retirement home.

Charles currently pays the bill for Andrew's security, but if Andrew moved into Frogmore Cottage, he won't need the police outside his front door.  Frogmore Cottage is in the Home Park and within the security perimeter.  

The Crown Estates will provide compensation when Andrew agrees to the early termination of his lease.

But what will happen to Royal Lodge, as security will be needed even after the Duke moves into Frogmore Cottage.  

 I have an idea. The house has been home to four generations of the Royal Family.  

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 It needs a family with young children, especially a young princess who will enjoy playing in Y Bwthyn Bach, just as her great-grandmother did in the 1930s.

If you liked this article perhaps you can buy me a cup of coffee


Bill said...

nice factual post.

Wendy Hunter said...

Another well-researched article. We can always believe you Marlene!

ladarlena said...

Thanks for getting us the facts Marlene. Good work.

ComprehensiveShape64 said...

Well written! I have been trying to tell people about this too, it is the Crown Estate offices that have ended the lease not King Charles! The Crown Estate is run by a Board (The Crown Estate Commissioners) & is an independent commercial business. For the financial years 20/21 & 21/22 the lease was paid as part of the 2.4 million that Prince Harry repaid for their personal upgrades (including ”fixtures, furniture and fittings”) to the renovations that were planned years before they even got engaged. The Public Trust paid for the majority of the renovation. Eugenie then sublet Frogmore so this financial year 23/24 would be the first that Prince Harry would be financially responsible for repairs, rates and insurances and annual market set leases. Along with heating, staff and grounds maintenance the sum would be high. I personally think that he may well have decided not to renew the lease as he is hardly there.

Royal admirer said...

Great article. Your rich knowledge of the history of the Windsor Home Park puts much of the clickbait in perspective. Imagine Grand Duchess Xenia's supporters' uproar 95 years ago. Here's hoping Prince William and Prince Louis have a good relationship 30 years from now (;

Malcolm said...

I wonder why it was an annual lease given the money they spent on it.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Charles certainly had a role - and would have made the recommendation to the Crown estates.
As for George and Louis - well Louis is not spare in waiting. Charlotte is

Royal admirer said...

Well, above I was considering William as King having a challenging relationship with his younger son, Louis...but you are right, the scenario applies to Charlotte just as much or more.

Victorianna said...

Such a wonderful, informative article, Marlene. I loved reading every bit of it. Thank you.