Frogmore Cottage, the hideaway long used to shelter embattled royals

Lorraine Kelly says Prince Harry can ‘get hotel room’ after Frogmore ‘eviction’

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Frogmore Cottage became the home of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle soon after their wedding in May 2018. The pair lived in the Windsor property until their dramatic exit from the Royal Family less than two years later and have since used it as a base during their occasional visits to the UK.

Now, however, King Charles III has asked his second son and daughter-in-law to “vacate” Frogmore Cottage, a request supposedly made directly by Buckingham Palace within days of the release of Harry’s memoir Spare.

It has been reported that the monarch wishes for his brother Prince Andrew to move into the residence, a decision that has sparked a row among both the public and the Royal Family.

Here, looks back at the origins of Frogmore Cottage and its history as a bolthole for embattled royals.

Coincidentally, the origin story of Frogmore Cottage is apt given its current royal residents. In 1801, Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, had the property built in Home Park, Windsor, as a country retreat for her and her daughters to escape the constraints of life behind palace walls.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex moved to the residence for a similar reason in 2019; tensions between the Sussexes and Prince William and his wife Kate, Princess of Wales, were bubbling and the couples ultimately decided to split their households.

Frogmore Cottage was a wedding gift for Harry and Meghan from the late Queen Elizabeth II. It played a significant role in their early marital life, becoming the first home of their son Archie and providing the backdrop for their time as working royals.

The home has a history of housing those on the fringes of royal life. Historian Helen Rappaport has suggested that Frogmore Cottage was designed to provide respite for the family of King George III, often referred as ‘Mad King George’, who suffered from an illness (likely porphyria, a rare hereditary disease) that prompted episodes of eccentric behaviour.

“The King had episodes of frenzy. He was most likely very hard to live with and [Queen Charlotte] presumably utilised Frogmore Cottage as a retreat,” she told HistoryExtra in 2019.

Another famous resident of the cottage was Abdul Karim, an Indian Muslim clerk who became a close confidant and teacher to Queen Victoria. He and his family lived in Frogmore, and refurbished the property in 1893.

Victoria would visit him at the house “each second day”, historian and author Shrabani Basu explained.

However, Abdul was treated with hostility by the rest of the Royal Household and, following the Queen’s death in 1901, he was forced to return to India by Victoria’s son and successor, Edward VII, who had “abhorred” his mother’s beloved companion.

In the early 20th century, the cottage was home to royal refugees from Russia. Following the killing of Tsar Nicholas II and his family in June 1918, some relatives fled the country and found themselves in England.

One royal group, which included Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna — a cousin of King George V — was offered sanctuary in the cottage.

The exiled royals’ financial situation meant Frogmore soon fell into disrepair, and when King Edward VIII offered Xenia and her family Wilderness House (on the grounds of Hampton Court), the family left Windsor.

The Frogmore Estate also houses a teahouse built for Queen Victoria, an 18th-century summerhouse in the form of a Gothic ruin and the Frogmore Mausoleum, the burial place of Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert.

Frogmore House itself dates from 1680–84, commissioned by Charles II for his nephew. It was later the home of Queen Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent.

The estate has long been used as a bolthole for members of the Royal Family. King George VI and his wife Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) spent part of their honeymoon at Frogmore in 1923, and Queen Elizabeth II, who spent large portions of her life in Windsor, was said to walk her beloved corgis there.

Frogmore House hosted the wedding reception of Harry and Meghan, as well as that of the late Queen’s eldest grandchild, Peter Phillips, and Autumn Kelly in 2008.

It also played a significant role in the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Netflix documentary series, Harry & Meghan, which revealed photos of their private wedding party and family life for the first time.

More recently, the house was converted into apartments for staffers on the Windsor estate. And, since Harry and Meghan moved stateside, the cottage has been largely unoccupied, although Princess Eugenie, her husband Jack Brooksbank and their son, August, moved in temporarily before relocating to London and Portugal.

Now, it is at the centre of a royal row. The cottage, which is considered comparatively humble by royal standards, has been pointed out as a suitable choice of home for Prince Andrew, who relinquished his royal duties amid fallout surrounding his connection with Jeffrey Epstein.

Whether the Duke of York has accepted the offer — or if he even has a choice in the matter — has not been confirmed.

Reports have suggested that Andrew is “resisting” the move to Frogmore Cottage as he doesn’t want to downsize. The Prince currently resides at Royal Lodge, a 31-bedroom mansion on the Windsor Estate that he has lived in since 2003 and shares with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.

While Frogmore Cottage isn’t really a cottage in anything but name, it is significantly smaller than Royal Lodge. The Grade II listed home boasts five bedrooms, two orangeries and a yoga studio.

The property was renovated back in 2019 ahead of Harry and Meghan’s move. Its renovations were paid for with £2.4million of taxpayer money, which the Sussexes subsequently repaid.

Nonetheless, by all accounts, Frogmore Cottage is far humbler than current home, a £12million California mansion in the exclusive enclave of Montecito.

Harry and Meghan reportedly have until the King’s Coronation to vacate their former home.

The news of the King’s dramatic request comes in the wake of the fallout surrounding the Sussexes’ recent revelations and much has been made of whether or not Harry and Meghan will return to the UK for Charles’s crowning.

According to one royal commentator, the lack of a UK home will cause further obstacles to the Sussexes’ future visits to the country.

Writing for Newsweek, Jack Royston said: “If Harry and Meghan do lose Frogmore it will sever a final major tie between them and Britain, which would make return visits to the country far more complex.

“Frogmore comes with de facto police security because it is on the private estate around Windsor Castle, meaning it is not only a haven from press intrusion and royal watchers but is also protected from terrorist attacks and assassination attempts. So losing Frogmore for Harry and Meghan would mean far more than losing a home.”

In contrast, television chat show host Lorraine Kelly described Charles’s request for eviction as “unsurprising,” and later quipped: “They can get a hotel room!”

Similarly, LBC radio presenter Sangita Myska who appeared on Lorraine alongside the host said: “First of all I think it is great that Harry and Meghan have gone off to Montecito and have their own lives. Absolutely good on them, they are both people who have their own talents and will be very successful in life.

“Equally, we are in the middle of a cost of living crisis, there are people who can barely afford their rent and can barely afford their house. I have very limited sympathy for extremely wealthy people who have a place that they are not using in palace grounds.”

She added: “I would suggest that going forward…they can mend their relationships with their families.”

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