Friends of King Charles have ridiculed the idea that Charles is using upcoming repairs at Royal Lodge, Prince Andrew’s massive home in Windsor Great Park, as a means of pressurizing Andrew to move out, but suggested that the disgraced prince will ultimately have to leave the gigantic, 30-room, crenelated property as it will be too expensive for him to maintain without subvention from the monarch.
A friend of the king said: “The idea that Charles is going to use building works as some underhand pretext to get Andrew out and then lock the doors is about as ill-informed as earlier speculation he was going to cut off the electricity. That’s simply not how he operates.”
The friend pointed out that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were asked “in a straightforward” fashion to give up the lease to their home, Frogmore Cottage. It is understood Harry and Meghan were financially compensated for money they spent on the property.
Asked if this meant Andrew was going to be asked to leave Royal Lodge in a similar way and given a similar deal, the friend dodged the question, saying: “It’s a very expensive place to live and Andrew doesn’t have a significant source of income, so ultimately he will probably have to move out.”
The friend said they did not know if reports that the king had cut Andrew’s allowance, rumored to have been as much as £250,000 ($311,000) per annum under the queen, as has been previously reported, were accurate, but said, that in any case, “250 grand wouldn’t go far on Royal Lodge. It’s enormous. It needs staff and constant, major repairs. It’s impossible for him to live there long term without the king’s support.”
The guessing games about Andrew’s tenure at Royal Lodge have re-erupted after a report in the Daily Mail, by the paper’s respected royal correspondent Rebecca English, claimed that Andrew was refusing to move out of Royal Lodge even temporarily during building work, which he himself commissioned, for fear “he might never get back in.”
A source told the Daily Mail that: “It’s become farcical. Andrew has roof repairs scheduled later this summer, which will take several months to complete and has been advised that staying in the house during those renovations could prove problematic. But he is reluctant to leave.”
However a source in Andrew’s camp recently told The Times that he has no intention of quitting Royal Lodge, and believes he is on a sound legal footing because he has a formal lease with the Crown Estate for the property.
The source told The Times: “This is a lease between him and the Crown Estate. That’s not a matter for the king. It’s a matter for the chancellor of the exchequer. The only way you could get him to move out would be through an arrangement—he would have to agree.”
If Andrew does move out, it will leave another empty house-shaped headache for Charles (or, more accurately, Sir Michael Stevens, the Keeper of the Privy Purse, as the monarch’s chief accountant is known) to solve.
The king is facing criticism for the number of valuable properties the family have access to, not least the monarch himself who has multiple homes at his disposal including Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, Balmoral, Sandringham, Highgrove, Clarence House and several others. His wife, Camilla, also maintains her own private home.
It has been rumored that Andrew is to be persuaded to relocate to Harry and Meghan’s former home, Frogmore Cottage, so that William and Kate could move into Royal Lodge, which has ten bedrooms, and in which Andrew and his ex-wife, Sara Ferguson, live in separate wings. However a source previously told The Daily Beast the couple were “very happy” at four-bedroom Adelaide Cottage, also in Windsor Great Park, to which they moved in August last year, and they are understood to not be agitating to take on Royal Lodge.
“In the end, Andrew will play ball.”
— Friend of King Charles
A friend of William’s told The Daily Beast: “They have literally only just moved to Adelaide, so I doubt they are keen to do it all again.”
Last month, friends of the royals told The Daily Beast that they suspected Andrew would move out “in the end”—and that media forays by Andrew’s camp, suggesting he would not willingly move out of Royal Lodge, were simply “maneuvers” to “get a better deal.”
A friend of King Charles’ previously told The Daily Beast: “In the end, Andrew will play ball. The house is far too big and expensive for him to run without the king’s support and goodwill. The speculation is that he is ‘on maneuvers,’ and trying to get a better deal.”
However it is no secret in royal circles that Charles thinks it is damaging for the monarchy that Andrew is still living in a luxurious royal palace after he was kicked out of the ranks of the working royals after he was accused of sexual assault by Virginia Giuffre, a Jeffrey Epstein trafficking victim.
The question is whether Andrew is now bluffing in the hope of getting a bigger financial settlement for surrendering his lease, or if he really intends to defy his brother by staying put in Royal Lodge. If that really is the case, and he and his family cannot afford to repair and maintain it, Charles will have to choose between allowing a historic home to crumble around his nightmare sitting tenant—or pay for the upkeep himself after all.
Buckingham Palace did not respond to a request for comment. Andrew no longer has a formal press spokesperson, but his solicitor, who was emailed with a request for comment, did not reply.