MEGHAN Markle has added a touch of Hollywood sparkle to the royal family – but it’s come at a price.
Royal accounts this week revealed that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have spent £2.4million of taxpayers' cash refurbing Frogmore Cottage, their official residence in Windsor.
The staggering figure has caused consternation among the British public, already outraged by Meghan’s £330,000 lavish New York baby shower and £787,000 Givenchy-packed wardrobe.
Meghan, 37, has even been dubbed a modern-day Marie Antoinette by Piers Morgan, who said: “She can’t have her cake and eat it.”
The Queen of France, executed in 1793, was infamously extravagant and is believed to have said "Let them eat cake" upon learning peasants had no bread to eat.
Now royal critics are asking how long the spending will carry on and urging the Sussexes to "have a little self restraint".
They believe her extravagant spending is likely to offend our frugal Queen – who famously heats her sitting room with a two-bar electric heater and wears the same Anello & Davide shoes until they wear out.
Here, Fabulous Digital takes a deep dive into Meghan’s spending habits.
£250k Soho House-inspired interiors and kitchen: Fitting out Frogmore
Meghan and Harry turned their backs on a posh Kensington Palace pad in favour of a private residence close to Windsor Castle.
Hugo Vickers, journalist and Royal biographer, said the ten-bed ‘cottage’ – actually a massive house that was divided into five apartments – needed a complete overhaul, from rewiring to reflooring.
He said: “The first things to leave the house when work started was a plague of rats. They’ve put brand new gates in, and a lot of security work has been done outside as well.”
The eco-energy unit alone cost £50,000, and doing up the exterior of the house may add another £600,000.
Vicky Charles, the Soho Farmhouse interior designer, was in charge of the reported £250,000 interiors overhaul, using Meg’s chosen eco-friendly, toxic-free vegan paint.
Plans revealed a top-notch kitchen with “floating floor” to protect the original wooden floor, although the rumoured yoga studio has not materialised.
The Queen’s frugal ways
The Queen’s old fashioned frugality was exposed in 2017, when she was pictured handing an award to poet Gillian Allnut – with a £30 electric heater on in the background!
Back in 2003, a reporter infiltrated the palace, posing as a footman, and revealed that the Queen and husband Philip kept their breakfast cereals – porridge and cornflakes – in Tupperware containers.
She keeps the household budget down by only allowing 40W bulbs to be used, eats leftovers and makes sure everything is reused or recycled – newspapers making ideal bedding for the horses.
The Queen also sets an example to younger royals by recycling her outfits. She wore the same outfit to Kate and Wills’ wedding and on a tour of Australia months later, and wore a pink hat and outfit combo four times in 2013.
The couple will cough up for fixtures and fittings, but Angela Levin, author of Harry: Conversations with the Prince, says there’s a question mark over why they chose not to live in Kensington Palace.
She said: “The renovation there would have cost much less – only the roof needed doing.
"Was it Meghan encouraging him to loosen his ties from Kate and Wills, or did she feel they’d be watched too much in the flat at the Palace?”
The Sussexes recently announced they’ll be setting up their own charity, splitting from Kate and Wills’ Royal Foundation, and adding fuel to the fire of rift rumours which started when the pair announced they’d be moving to Frogmore and away from the Cambridges.
Angela added: “Will Meghan be happy in Frogmore? The rumour is she also wants a house in LA to be near her mum. The perception is Meghan seems to be spending in whatever way she can. How long will this carry on?”
Royal commentators have estimated the couple’s rumoured move to Africa may also cost the taxpayer £1million in security and household costs.
It was recently revealed the pair may move to Malawi, Botswana or South Africa to promote the British Commonwealth once Archie is a little older, for up to two years.
Ingrid Stewart, editor in chief of Majesty magazine, said, “If they go to live in Africa, they’ll attract another load of criticism after spending all this money doing up Frogmore Cottage.”
COST: £2.4million + £1million move to Africa
£358k wedding gown and £82k Dior dress: Meghan’s ‘wow’ wardrobe
Meghan is thought to have splashed out £400,000 on clothes in 2018 – a figure significantly bigger than Kate’s £68,000. And that’s not even including her £387,000 Givenchy wedding dress.
The Duchess has a particular penchant for Givenchy, wearing a £14,000 cream caped dress for her first outing with the Queen, while her entire outfit to meet the Irish president in July last year cost nearly £15,000, including a £1,500 Roland Mouret dress and £3,850 Fendi bag.
Her wardrobe for her Morocco tour alone last year were estimated to top £130,000, and Angela said it was an error for Meghan to spend £82,000 on one Dior evening dress during the trip last year.
“She’s a beautiful woman and she could have looked stunning in something half the price. Why does she want to spend like that?
"Is it because she lacks confidence, or is it because what Meghan wants, Meghan gets?
"A little self-restraint is important. People are having financial problems all over the UK and they don’t want to think Harry and Meghan are on a gravy train.”
Ingrid agrees, saying: “There’s no need to spend so much on gowns when you’re trying to present a philanthropic front to the world.”
The Duchess’ £600,000 jewellery box
Eyebrows were raised this week when royal fans spotted Meghan had upgraded her £250,000 engagement ring, changing the thick gold band for a thinner one lined with pavé-set diamonds.
“Engagement rings are historic items of jewellery,” Ingrid tells us.
“Now it’s a bling ring instead of being a classy, traditional one. This is an example of her wanting to put her stamp on things.”
Harry spoke of how much care he had put into designing the ring, revealing: “It’s yellow gold because that’s her favourite and the main stone I sourced from Botswana and the little diamonds either side are from my mother’s jewellery collection, to make sure she’s with us on this crazy journey together.”
Angela commented: “If someone you love gives you an engagement ring, you have to keep it as it is.
"If you change it, it takes away from the love and the promise. It’s been reported she has £600,000 worth of jewellery.
"They might be presents from the Queen or Harry, but it looks like an endless roll of spending.”
The Duchess has a £116,300 Reflection de Cartier bracelet, and her Cartier Tennis Bracelet costs around £22,000.
While Kate’s collection is thought to top £1million, much of that is due to inherited pieces she has the right to wear as the wife of the future king.
A-list guest list and four French Macaron towers: Blinging baby shower
Meghan’s blingtastic New York baby shower – which cost an eye-watering £330,000 – was a big mistake, according to royal commentators.
“It was all terribly American and not terribly royal,” Hugo tells us.
At the time, the Queen’s former press spokesman Dickie Arbiter said he was “unimpressed” and called the event “over the top”.
He added: “We don’t do it here in the UK.”
The Duchess flew over in a private jet at a cost of around £100,000 and was put up in a £66,000 a night penthouse at luxury hotel The Mark, reportedly by best pal Serena Williams.
Met Police refused to confirm if there was a security cost involved, but she did have protection officers with her.
Angela says: “If you are a campaigner for climate change, taking a private jet is a contradiction.
"And whoever paid for it will want something in return and that’s what the Queen doesn’t like. All this spending could put the Royal Family in a difficult position.”
"Ironically Meghan’s lavish baby shower coincided with Prince Harry’s visit to school kids in south London in a bid to help beat hunger during school vacations.
"It led many to comment she reminded them of Marie Antoinette. I think it was the turning point,” she adds.
“Too lavish, too American, too much. It’s too much celebrity that’s not sitting well with the public.”
Megs and Harry also had a pre-babymoon at Heckfield Place Hotel in Hook, Hants, costing £33,000.
Kate, of course, has never had an all-singing and all-dancing baby shower, which has been public knowledge.
Who was Marie Antoinette?
The Austrian royal was married to the French king Louis XVI, and was executed at the age of 37 for high treason during the French Revolution in 1793.
Popular at first, she soon attracted criticism for her lavish spending and wild parties at court.
She was known as “Madame Déficit” and her extravagance was cited as one of the reasons for the country’s financial problems.
During their reign, the country suffered poor harvests and the queen is famously thought to have said, “Let them eat cake” (Qu’ils mangent de la brioche) upon learning peasants had no bread to eat.
She probably never uttered the words, but they came to symbolise her thoughtlessness and out of touch attitude towards the French people’s suffering.
Meghan’s spending since becoming a royal is set to top the £5million mark, with Kate’s £1.5m overhaul of Anmer Hall looking thrifty in comparison – so it’s no wonder she’s being dubbed the modern-day Marie Antoinette.
“I think she hasn’t grasped what it’s like to be a member of the Royal Family yet. She needs to look at the bigger picture,” says Angela.
“Kate’s had years to understand. And she’s frugal by nature, making her children wear hand-me-downs. Meghan has to learn that.”
But while Hugo insists “it’s a shame” that the couple are being pilloried for their excessive spending on the house, Ingrid advises Meghan needs to pay attention to the bad press she’s getting.
“Everyone who meets her says she’s wonderful, but Meghan must remember the overall effect she’s having.
“She says she doesn’t read her press, but I think she should and listen to public opinion to learn where she is going wrong.
"Being royal isn’t all about wearing the most expensive clothes and jewellery.
"It’s about representing the ‘family firm’, which means doing things with humility and dignity.
“Fergie and Diana both went through this, and if the Queen does at any point think she’s overstepping the mark, she would get her Private Secretary to have a word.
“The Queen has high hopes for them but all this is bad for the Monarchy.
"They just need to be seen to be giving a bit more of themselves."
TOTAL COST: £5,150,000
In more royal news, Prince William says it's be ‘absolutely fine by me’ if Princes George or Louis or Princess Charlotte identified as gay or lesbian.
We also revealed how the Queen has "blocked Meghan and Harry breaking away from Buckingham Palace to keep an eye on them."
Plus Meghan Markle and Prince Harry wished William a happy birthday on Instagram with an oddly formal message amid "rift" rumours.
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