Prince William and Kate Middleton’s reported move to a new home on Queen Elizabeth II’s Windsor Castle estate has “raised eyebrows” after the British taxpayer footed the $5.4 million renovation costs for the couple’s Kensington Palace apartment in 2014, according to a prominent royal biographer
Omid Scobie, best known for his 2020 biography of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle co-authored with Carolyn Durand titled Finding Freedom, cast his critical eye over William and Kate’s property portfolio in his latest column for Yahoo! News.
Reports that William and Kate will move with their children, Prince George, 9, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4, to Adelaide Cottage in Windsor Great Park have circulated for months with the duchess’ uncle appearing to confirm the move in comments to Britain’s The Sun newspaper earlier this month.
So far, the Cambridges’ office has declined to comment.
The move would see the family spend less time at their London home of Kensington Palace where they were given the use of the expansive Apartment 1a after their marriage.
The exclusive residence is spread across four floors of the 17th century red-brick palace, with a private walled garden and was formerly the home of the queen’s late sister, Princess Margaret.
When the couple moved in, Scobie wrote, the media were told that the $5.4 million renovations to the fabric of the apartment, which had changed little since the 1960s, were justified as “a necessary investment as the couple planned to use the property as a permanent base to work and raise a family.”
“This house,” Scobie continued, “they assured, would be their forever home.”
The couple’s potential new home in Windsor has been identified as Adelaide Cottage, a small family home a short walk from the castle set in the secure confines of the royal park.
The expanse of the 5,000-acre estate would give the Cambridges not only more space but also freedom to enjoy that space without the risk of being overseen, a luxury not afforded in the gardens of Kensington Palace.
A move to Windsor Great Park would also bring the Cambridges closer to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle who reside at Frogmore Cottage to the north of the castle when they are in Britain.
Harry and William have not been photographed together in public since the unveiling of a statue of Princess Diana in July 2021 amid a reported royal rift. The Sussexes are due to return to Britain in September where they are scheduled to attend charity events. It is not yet known whether they intend to stay at Frogmore Cottage during the visit.
Royal biographer Ingrid Seward previously commented, on an episode of True Royalty TV’s The Royal Beat, that Windsor’s extra space would be a valuable asset to the couple as their children grow up.
“Kate can’t walk in the park like Diana used to,” she said of Kensington. “She can’t take her dog into the park. The only place to go is a field where the helicopters land so you are very imprisoned and everyone knows what you’re doing and coming and going.
“So I do understand [in moving to Adelaide Cottage] that their children will have the freedom of Windsor Great Park and the security of being right next to the queen.”
While the move could signal happier times for the Cambridge family, Scobie highlights the gap between the lived experience of the royals and the rest of the country at a time of economic strain.
“It’s a decision that has raised a few eyebrows,” he wrote. “Particularly at a time when the country is dealing with a major cost of living crisis.
“Picking up a third home, especially when one of them cost the public so much to renovate, is hardly the norm for regular folk.”
Inflation in the U.K. hit 10.1 percent in July, its highest level for 40 years.
In addition to Kensington Palace, William and Kate were also given a country home on the queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk, known as Anmer Hall—though no public funds are reported to have been used in connection with their taking over the property.
Despite reports of the move to Windsor, there is no suggestion as yet that the couple will make Adelaide Cottage their permanent home or that they will no longer have a presence at Kensington Palace.
Scobie explained his belief that “Apartment 1A will still play a significant role.”
“As well as being home to their official offices,” he wrote, “William and Kate will regularly be in and out of their London base… It’s also the home where the couple plan to return to when their children grow up.”