Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle are all set to settle down in their new home, which is a 19th-century cottage located on the Windsor estate. The cottage is said to have an Indian connection which goes back to the time of Queen Victoria, the then Empress of India.
Frogmore Cottage was in 2018 gifted to Harry by his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, as a wedding present for him and Meghan, and the two have now turned it into their home which they will share with their new-born baby Archie.
The Indian connection to the cottage is that it was a royal gift to Abdul Karim from Queen Victoria, as a sign of her affection for her Indian aide and confidant.
Born in Uttar Pradesh, Karim, known as “the Munshi”, was an Indian attendant of Queen Victoria. He served her during the final fourteen years of her reign.
Harry and Meghan’s new home is already on the tourist trail as a result of a 2017 film starring Judi Dench as Queen Victoria and Ali Fazal as Abdul.
“Queen Victoria gave it to Abdul Karim, as a special gift. She would often visit the cottage and have tea with his wife and him. He had decorated the house with many exotic things, including presents given to him by European royalty,” said Shrabani Basu, the author of Victoria and Abdul: The Extraordinary True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant which formed the basis for the screen adaptation Victoria and Abdul.
A general view of Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, England. Photo Courtesy: Getty Images
Back to the present, with Harry and Meghan deciding to turn it into their official residence, the cottage underwent refurbishment which cost UK taxpayers a whopping 2.4 million pounds, as revealed by the annual royal accounts released on Tuesday.
According to the latest royal accounts, months of renovation work to turn the property spread over five separate spaces into one single home was paid for by the UK’s Sovereign Grant.
“The property had not been the subject of work for some years and had already been earmarked for renovation in line with our responsibility to maintain the condition of the occupied royal palaces estate,” said Michael Stevens, Keeper of the Privy Purse, in charge of the 93-year-old monarch’s finances.
The refurbishment took about six months with some areas yet to be completed, such as repainting the exterior. Any upgrades to standard fixtures and fittings were paid for by Harry, 34, and Meghan, 37, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, palace officials said.
The cottage is set within the peaceful and secluded Frogmore House estate, near Windsor Castle, surrounded by 35 acres of lush vegetation and Berkshire countryside. The estate has its own man-made lake, Frogmore Lake, and is home to the Royal Burial Ground and the tomb of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.