Meghan Markle and Prince Harry ‘shut door’ of UK return with Frogmore pay-off

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MEGHAN Markle and Prince Harry made another step towards independence from the Royal Family after repaying the taxpayer’s money for the renovation of their old Frogmore Cottage residence.

Now, royal author Omid Scobie has said the move cements their willingness to stay in the US and build a new life. Meghan and Harry are in a probation period which will last until next month, which he suggested is “leaving the door open” for them.

However, he claimed the couple would rather “prove that it can stay shut”.

He said in The HeirPod podcast: “I think it just shows how keen they are, to truly be independent.”

The renovation of Frogmore Cottage took place between 2018 and 2019 and is estimated to have cost around £2.4 million of taxpayers’ money.

Prince Harry’s spokesman said this month the Duke had paid back the bill completely by contributing to the sovereign grant.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle smiling

The Duke and Duchess signed a landmark Netflix deal recently (Image: Max Mumby / Indigo / Getty)

Mr Scobie added the royal couple did not “necessarily” owe the money back.

However, he said having the “looming” debt could have been “an excuse for other things to be used against you”.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will still be able to use Frogmore Cottage as their UK residence, it is understood.

Recently, the couple signed a multi-year production deal with video streaming giant Netflix.

Frogmore Cottage

The couple’s Netflix deal was used to pay back the UK taxpayer for renovations to Frogmore Cottage (Image: PA)

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's UK home will continue to be Frogmore Cottage

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s UK home will continue to be Frogmore Cottage (Image: PA)

Reports vary wildly in estimating the value of the deal, but it is generally claimed to be worth over £100 million.

It will see the couple produce content for the video streaming service including documentaries and children’s shows.

Harry and Meghan said in a statement: “Through our work with diverse communities and their environments, to shining a light on people and causes around the world, our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle walking

The Sussexes said they would become financially independent when they announced they would step down a senior royals (Image: Karwai Tang / WireImage / Getty)

“As new parents, making inspirational family programming is also important to us, as is powerful storytelling through a truthful and relatable lens.”

Meanwhile, Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, said the firm is “incredibly proud” to have been chosen by the Duke and Duchess as their “creative home”.

It is reported the couple also held meetings with a number of rivals to the streaming site.

Omid Scoobie

Omid Scoobie said paying back the money signalled the couple were unlikely to return to the UK (Image: SKY NEWS)

Royal Family taxpayer cost

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s final royal engagements (Image: EXPRESS)

Meghan has been involved in showbusiness before – she was known for starring in the US television drama Suits before her marriage to Prince Harry.

However, the Netflix deal is not the only source of income for the couple as they seek financial independence from the Royal Family.

In June, it was reported the Duke and Duchess could earn up to $1 million per speech after signing up to high-profile speaking agency Harry Walker.

Microphone and crowd

Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos has been credited with getting Meghan and Harry to agree the deal (Image: UPFRONT VENTURES)

Other celebrities on the agency’s roster include actors such as Matthew McConaughey, former presidents of the US, and sports stars such as Venus Williams.

The Duke and Duchess stepped down as senior royals and moved to California earlier this year.

They initially lived in Los Angeles, though they have reportedly moved to the coastal region of Santa Barbara.

Source: EXPRESS CO UK