VF: Prince William & Kate are ‘guilty’ of excessive and costly real estate drama too

Vanity Fair recently published an interesting article about “the saga of royal rents and monarchs-as-landlords.” There’s some interesting history about various king’s mistresses and the various grand apartments or estates they were given. There’s also some interesting stuff about more modern royal real estate drama and how King Charles is going to make some big changes, especially with the grace-and-favor homes and apartments given to distant relations. Of course, they mention how he evicted the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from Frogmore Cottage, still one of the most rotten moves from Charles. Especially given that, as this article makes abundantly clear, most of the Windsors are living in homes they didn’t pay for whatsoever. Some highlights (mostly quotes from Tom Quinn, author of Kensington Palace: An Intimate Memoir and Scandals of the Royal Palaces):

All of the royals rebuild & refurbish their gifted real estate: “There has also always been an insane habit of each new royal resident insisting that their palace or house has to be completely refurbished, even rebuilt, before they can bring themselves to move in,” Quinn explains. “When Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon moved into their Kensington Palace apartment vast amounts of Georgian fittings were destroyed—Margaret insisted—according to one of her staff—that she had absolutely no intention of using a lavatory that had ever been used by anyone else!”

Grace-and-favor homes: The near constant hassles over royal real estate have become increasingly fraught in recent decades with the press exposing the unfairness of “grace-and-favor residences” given to family members, loyal friends, and servants at the discretion of the monarch. “In the 1970s, there were more than 200 grace and favor apartments and houses––dozens at Hampton Court Palace and at Balmoral, at Sandringham, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and Clarence House,” Quinn points out. Things came to a head in the 1990s when it was revealed that Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, who are non-working royals, were paying very little to live in Kensington Palace.

What happened to the Kents: To quell the furor, Queen Elizabeth II decided to raise the couple’s rent. “The Duke and Duchess of Kent found they suddenly had to go from paying a peppercorn rent for their grace and favor apartment at Kensington to paying market rent. From paying around £69 a week for their five bedroomed apartment they were forced to pay around £60,000 a year,” Quinn writes. “Fair enough perhaps given at the time—the 1990s—the duke was only 49th in line to the throne.”

Charles won’t be as generous as his mother: According to Quinn, there are still more than 100 grace-and-favor residences controlled by King Charles III, but apparently, he won’t be as generous as his mother. “Charles has every intention of curbing the wild expenditure on royal houses that typified earlier generations of royals and a member of staff told me he is determined to reduce further the number of grace and favor apartments,” Quinn claims.

Charles’s ultimate goal: As his ultimatums to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Prince Andrew attest, the king believes the family squabbles over royal property are out of control and bad for both public relations and the bottom line. There have also been reports that the king will eventually ask more royal family members to pay up or vacate their homes, and in turn, will rent them to people outside the family at market rates. He wants members of the royal family to stop behaving with such an air of entitlement, especially when it comes to housing. One aide told me that even Charles can’t understand why each new generation has to strip out everything in their apartments before they are prepared to move in—whether at Kensington or Windsor—and start again from scratch at great expense.”

William & Kate: “William and Kate are as guilty as anyone else when it comes to this sort of thing,” Quinn says. “Their Kensington apartment was virtually rebuilt when they moved in and now includes an underground bunker.” (Outlets report the apartment includes a panic room and escape tunnel.)

Caretaker royals: “Charles is also keen to emphasize that each generation of royals is, as it were, merely a caretaker when it comes to housing—they are there to keep the houses and palaces in good order for the next generation and for the public,” Quinn explains.

[From VF]

While Kensington Palace Apartment 1 really did need a big overhaul – they had to remove asbestos – Quinn is correct in that William and Kate were so excessive with how much money they spent renovating and refurbishing not only KP Apt. 1, but Anmer Hall as well. Kate ripped up Anmer, which had already recently been renovated. I remember how she tore out a perfectly lovely kitchen. What was also crazy about the KP reno was that the PR around the whole thing was that the money was worth it because KP would be their permanent home and they would be based in London. Instead, they quickly moved to Anmer for years, and then they moved to Windsor, where they’re looking to push Prince Andrew out of Royal Lodge. You know Kate can’t wait to spend millions renovating Royal Lodge too.

The Frogmore Cottage eviction makes even less sense when you consider how many royals and royal-adjacents are paying next to nothing for their palatial estates and lavish apartments. The Sussexes literally paid back the cost of renovating that dilapidated shack AND they paid for the lease. And Charles’s big scheme is to evict the Sussexes and “give” Frogmore to Andrew free of charge. Anyway, I can’t wait to see how many enemies Charles makes when he starts evicting all of his relatives, all while giving William and Kate their sixth, seventh and eighth homes.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Netflix, Instar, Kensington Royal social media.

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