With the news that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are set to move to Windsor, questions need to be asked about the fortune they have already spent.
We hope Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, knows where she can get sage with her well-groomed hands. Lots of sage.
The Times confirmed over the weekend that she, her husband Prince William, and their three children are set to move to the Queen’s Windsor estate. Sun learning that specifically they would be moving into a 19th-century chocolate box property called the Adelaide Cottage.
While the title may sound like something from a Beatrix Potter book, it has a rather dark history.
The house was built for Queen Victoria’s tragically widowed aunt Queen Adelaide in 1831, whose first daughter lived only a few hours, the second died at the age of four months, and the twin boys were still born.
After World War II, King George VI immediately transferred his trusted stable captain Peter Townsend to a four-bedroom house and became the backdrop for much of Townsend and Princess Margaret’s doomed and far from secret romance.
In short, these four walls have seen a lot of grief.
Therefore, all the sage that Kate will need to buy is ideally by the bushel.
But what should make the Cambridges’ drive to move from the fashionable streets of Kensington to open a shop in the Berkshire countryside – plus a few miles to the Preta or Zara outpost – so moot that their move essentially means they’ve wasted millions and millions of dollars. Sovereign grant money.
Now, the initial report that they were moving into Adelaide Cottage indicated that the family would pay rent for the property and that their move would not require any cash outlay on it or the addition of any new taxpayer-funded security. .
(The same story also made a slightly reverent hint that they would not have permanent staff, as if William, having to sleepily pour Frosty Flakes into three small bowls in the morning, puts him in line for a medal.)
But in all the rush to portray the couple as a thrifty couple is the fact that they already have two other grand homes full of security and a small team of trained professionals cleaning the toilets.
What’s more, their London apartment 1A at Kensington Palace was extensively refurbished in 2014 at a cost of $7.8 million from Sovereign Grant funds. (Of course, the grant is 25 per cent of the income from the Crown estates, which the royal family keeps for the maintenance of royal property and their official good works, and the rest of the money goes to the British government’s treasury).
William and Kate also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money on further renovations and interiors.
During the costly refurbishment, the line was simple: William, Kate and little Prince George were preparing to move from Wales to London to start a full royal life, and so they needed a suitable base.
It was good that such large sums of money were spent on a four-story building with 20 or more rooms, because the Cambridges and their horde of assistants and advisers settled there for life.
In short, Kensington Palace will be the headquarters of Cambridge, William and Kate’s mothership, where their transition from ordinary members of the royal family to William’s accession to the throne will take place.
This plan has clearly failed, and Berkshire is beckoning. As veteran royal Robert Jobson tweeted this week: “I was personally and categorically told by the Duke’s senior aide when millions of public money was spent on the KP and Flat 1A for Cambridge” that he/KP would be their base when William became heir. throne. Will that change now with the move to Berkshire?”
Since the Cambridge families have only lived in London permanently since 2017, that means that in their Kensington Palace reno they are costing Grant and, in a way, taxpayers, $1.56 million a year in royal debt.
What I’m curious about here is where is the hype?
Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, in 2019 pretty much climbed the firecracker for a $4.4 million renovation of Frogmore Cottage, also on the Windsor estate and also funded by the Sovereign Grant.
The general public and press had their own take on how much the Sussexes had spent on the property, rightly pointing out that Apartment 1 at Kensington Palace had conveniently just been vacated by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
Moving Harry and Meghan to Frogmore seemed wasteful and indulgent, Grant left to pay the bill because they didn’t like living in the panopticon with the twitching curtain that is the Palace.
The exact same situation plays out here: The Duke and Duchess decide they like this clean country air for their children, and yet we’ve heard the criticism?
Of course not.
While in the past the Sussexes seemed to generally think they were doing a rum deal, unlike the haloed Cambridges, at least on the front of the house it looks like they were on the money, pun intended.
The Sussexes have been slapped in the face by the media for spending Grant’s money so freely and easily, while the Cambridge saints are being held up as models simply because they are willing to do without a 24/7 housekeeper.
Aside from the element of hypocrisy, there’s also the fact that William seems to be getting a completely free pass here, considering his big charity push on homelessness day.
Just last week, he allegedly went “undercover” to sell the Big Issue, which was a well-intentioned but transparent stunt.
Yes, it did draw attention to an ongoing and serious problem, but the Duke’s willingness to pose for countless social media photos on his “Big Trouble” clobber while he went on his cover mission suggests that his aides were hardly trying to cover up his charity outing. . .
All this walking around the Big Edition seemed to be meant to garner a certain amount of praise: “Oh, that Prince William, isn’t he a good man?” Just like his mom!
This is an area that William will only be more than happy to engage in, as the Times has reported that his next major philanthropic venture, to be launched next year, will be a long-term initiative focused on the homeless. According to the same report, he also “wants to see what role the duchy can play in his homelessness project.”
However, there’s something quite nauseous about the fact that in just a few days, two of William’s big stories that have made headlines are how he fights homelessness and what he adds to his portfolio of historical property. (The Queen gave the Cambridges a ten-bedroom home, Anmer Hall, on her Sandringham estate following their 2011 wedding.)
It just doesn’t sit right.
It’s not that William shouldn’t be told this, or that he, as a parent, should be denied the opportunity to do what he thinks is best for his children, but the sloppiness here is really annoying.
Does he know that the public approval of the Cambridges, especially Kate, is so strong that they can almost knock over a BTS member and still smell like roses? Or does he not care how frustrating it is that he just picked a big house, like a little kid choosing sweets just a few days after he left the house and did his “Decent Man Trying to Help” routine?
I really think that his heart and his ambitions are in the right place when it comes to being homeless. From the age of 11, his mother Diana, Princess of Wales secretly took him and Harry to meet those in need of food and shelter at The Passage charity, and in 2019 he was named patron.
In 2020, it was revealed that he helped cook and serve food there during the pandemic. Meanwhile, William’s first royal patronage in 2005 came from another organization dedicated to homeless youth, Centrepoint.
In my opinion, the timing of this week’s two events in Cambridge soil is just horribly inappropriate, and yet no one in the royal family or the media seems particularly concerned about it. If it had been any other member of the Queen’s family, we would have seen Fleet Street and Twitter.
raise one hell of a stink.
Remember apartment 1A in the Palace? Now it will be used as offices for William and Kate’s employees, which will certainly make it the best place in the world to spend time from 9 to 5, working on Excel spreadsheets and sipping a cup of weak tea.
Sometimes it must be very pleasant to be a Cambridge, even if they are now in the market of wise men looking for work.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years of experience working with a range of leading Australian media outlets..