Will taxpayers still contribute to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's new life?

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have made the decision to step back as senior members of the Royal Family.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are hoping to be “financially independent” but, one royal insider believes this will be more difficult than the couple might think.

“Of every aspect of this, how they’ll be financially independent concerns me the most,” Duncan Larcombe, The Sun’s former royal editor, tells Yahoo UK.

What will Harry and Meghan's announcement mean for the taxpayer? [Photo: Getty]

“From Harry’s point of view, if this move is the result of them trying to walk away from the scrutiny and perhaps the criticism that they faced in the past few years, setting up their own brand and trying to make their own money is fraught with danger.

“As soon as it’s perceived that they’re effectively cashing in on the royal status when it suits them but not carrying out any royal duties in return, then the proverbial ton of bricks will land on them and they will not escape scrutiny, they will be subjected to scrutiny at a level that they haven’t even come close to yet.”

READ MORE: Meghan's father Thomas Markle 'disappointed' over couple's decision to 'step back' from Royal Family

There are still lots of questions to answer, not least what the couple’s new life will mean for the taxpayer.

Harry and Meghan’s new official website Sussexroyal.com explains that the couple’s plans mean they will no longer receive funding through the Sovereign Grant from the taxpayer.

“In 2020, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made the choice to transition into a new working model,” the website reads.

“As they step back as senior members of the Royal Family and no longer receive funding through the Sovereign Grant, they will become members of the Royal Family with financial independence which is something they look forward to.”

The website explains the couple will no longer receive funding through the Sovereign Grant from the taxpayer for their official office expenses, which it said to account for 5% of their office costs.

The Prince of Wales currently pays for the remaining cost of their public duties and some of their private costs from his Duchy of Cornwall income.

“Public funding has never been used, nor would it ever be used for private expenditure by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who also do not receive any tax privileges,” the statement continues.

But, it is not clear how their work will be funded.

The Sovereign Grant is also used to pay for Harry and Meghan’s official royal travel and their website states they “proudly” carry out official overseas visits in support of the Queen, which suggests they will still continue to do so despite the change.

It still isn't entirely clear how Harry and Meghan will fund their new life [Photo: Getty]

The website also addresses whether the couple will be getting paid jobs, which it looks like they may do.

Sussexroyal.com says Harry and Meghan “value the ability to earn a professional income, which in the current structure they are prohibited from doing.

“For this reason they have made the choice to become members of the Royal Family with financial independence.

“Their Royal Highnesses feel this new approach will enable them to continue to carry out their duties for Her Majesty The Queen, while having the future financial autonomy to work externally.”

But, will the British taxpayer still contribute to the couple’s new life?

It seems there could still be some form of contribution in terms of ongoing security.

Even once the couple have relinquished themselves of their royal seniority, Harry and Meghan will likely be classified by the Home Office as “internationally protected people”, - a statement on their website explains.

“The provision of armed security by The Metropolitan Police is mandated by the Home Office, a ministerial department of Her Majesty’s Government, responsible for security and law & order.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are classified as internationally protected people which mandates this level of security.”

READ MORE: Royal finance expert explains how the royal fortune works

Taxpayers contributed £2.4 million to the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage [Photo: Getty]

The Mirror estimates that the British taxpayer could be looking to fund a £600,000 per year security bill as the couple adjusts to life outside the monarchy.

There’s also the issue of where Prince Harry and Meghan will live.

Though they plan to split their time between the UK and North America, it is understood the couple wish keep Frogmore Cottage.

The Windsor home was gifted to them by the Queen and it is understood they do not wish to return such a generous present.

But, royal accounts show £2.4million of taxpayer money has been put into renovating five-bedroomed Frogmore Cottage, so how will the public feel about funding this, in light of the couple’s proposed move?

Some believe the money spent on the refurbishment should now be repaid.

“You are either a member of the Royal Family or your are not. You can’t be one foot in, one foot out,” Norman Baker, a Liberal Democrat member of the Privy Council said in an interview with Express.co.uk.

“If he is a member of the Royal Family, he has royal duties like most of them.

“If he doesn’t want that, it is fine. I understand that and good luck to him.

“But what he can’t do is becoming a private citizen, not doing royal duties and still have the state paying for him.

“He should give the money back spent on Frogmore Cottage and pay himself for the jets between the UK and America.

“And pay for his security,” he adds.

Some experts believe the duo have the potential to make millions, particularly if they choose to follow in Barack and Michelle Obama’s footsteps with public speaking opportunities, books, and TV deals.  

It is thought that the pair could charge six-figure sums to speak at events and dinner parties.

There is also speculation they may bring out their own merchandise including T-shirts and magazines.

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