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Prince Charles gave the Duke and Duchess of Sussex a "substantial sum" in the months after they quit their roles as senior royals to become financially independent.

Royal accounts were made public just months after Prince Harry's told Oprah Winfrey that the Royal Family had cut him and wife Meghan Markle off financially following their move to the US.

Charles gave almost £4.5 million to the Sussexes and Prince William and Kate Middleton during the last financial year, down from £5.6 million, or about 20 per cent, the previous 12 months.

It also revealed Harry and Meghan's £2.4 million reimbursement of the taxpayer for renovating Frogmore Cottage also included more than 18 months’ rent.

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Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince Charles attend the 2020 Commonwealth Day service
(Image: Getty Images)

A spokesman for Clarence House has said the Prince of Wales continued to support the Sussexes financially, giving them a "substantial sum", in the months after they stepped down as senior royals in March 2020.

Heir to the throne Charles' support ended the following summer and the couple are now financially independent, the spokesman said.

Harry and Meghan, who this month gave birth to their second child, a daughter named Lilibet "Lili" Diana, now live in suburban Los Angeles, and have struck lucrative multimillion-pound deals with Netflix and Spotify.

Until last summer both of Charles' sons had been receiving money from his income from his private Duchy of Cornwall estate, a vast portfolio of property and financial investments with net assets of almost £1 billion.

Prince Charles gave Harry a "substantial" handout in stark contrast to the duke's claims, sources say

It now covers more than 52,000 hectares of land across 21 counties, mostly in England's South West, including arable and livestock farms, residential and commercial properties, as well as forests, rivers, quarries, and coastline, according to the Duchy of Cornwall website.

It states: "The current Prince of Wales chooses to use a substantial proportion of his income from the Duchy estate to meet the cost of his public and charitable work as well as the public and private lives of his family, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and their children."

When Charles becomes king, William will become the Duke of Cornwall and inherit the Duchy of Cornwall estate.

Before Harry and Meghan quit their roles, 95 per cent of their income came from Charles' private estate.

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During their bombshell interview with Oprah, which was watched by millions of TV viewers in March, Harry said "my family literally cut me off financially, and I had to afford security for us".

He said his family had cut him off “in the first quarter of 2020”.

Harry revealed he and Meghan had relied on his inheritance from his late mum Princess Diana – a sum thought to have been about £7 million at the time of her death in August 1997.

“I brought what my mum left me. And without that, we would not have been able to do this," he told Oprah.

Princess Diana, who died in August 1997, left millions of pounds to her sons
(Image: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

The duke told Oprah he and Meghan secured their deals with Netflix and Spotify to pay for security.

It is said William received a similar sum from his mother's estate.

When the Queen Mother died in 2002, reports suggested Harry and William would split about £14 million from their great-grandmother's estimated £70 million fortune.

Pre-Megxit, Harry and Meghan's joint wealth was estimated to be £18 million, but will have been boosted substantially by their high-profile deals.

They live in the exclusive community of Montecito after buying a mansion reportedly worth £11 million.

Prince William will inherit the Duchy of Cornwall estate when Charles becomes king
(Image: Getty Images)

Clarence House’s annual review revealed that Charles' bill for the Cambridges’ and the Sussexes’ activities, plus other expenditure including Charles’s capital expenditure and transfer to reserves in 2020/2021, was £4.452 million, a fall of around 21 per cent or £1.155 million from £5.607 million in 2019-2020.

The report provided no detailed breakdown of the figures.

Charles’s annual income from the Duchy of Cornwall profits fell to £20.4 million, a drop of £1.8 million or eight per cent.

His Sovereign Grant funding dropped from £1.8 million in 2020 to just £0.4 million this year.

A senior Clarence House spokesperson said: “As we’ll all remember in January 2020 when the duke and duchess announced that they were going to move away from the working Royal Family, the duke said that they would work towards becoming financially independent.

Prince Charles gave gave almost £4.5 million to his sons and their wives in their latest financial year
(Image: PA)

“The Prince of Wales allocated a substantial sum to support them with this transition.

“That funding ceased in the summer of last year. The couple are now financially independent.”

Quizzed on the discrepancy in the duke’s remarks, the Clarence House spokesperson said: “I wouldn’t acknowledge that they are dramatically different. All I can tell you are the facts.”

A spokesperson for the Sussexes insisted there was no difference in timeline, and that Harry was actually referring to the first quarter of the fiscal reporting period in the UK, which runs from April to July.

“You are conflating two different timelines and it’s inaccurate to suggest that there’s a contradiction,” Harry and Meghan’s spokesperson said.

“The duke’s comments during the Oprah interview were in reference to the first quarter of the fiscal reporting period in the UK, which starts annually in April.

“This is the same date that the ‘transitional year’ of the Sandringham agreement began and is aligned with the timeline that Clarence House referenced.”

The Clarence House spokesperson described the couple’s departure from the working royal family as “a matter of enormous sadness to the family”, adding: “But the prince wanted to help make this work, (and) allocated a substantial sum to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, to help them with that transition.”

They added: “I betray no confidence when I say they’ve been very successful in becoming financially independent.”

Sussexes paid £2.4m for Frogmore Cottage works

Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s £2.4 million reimbursement of the taxpayer for renovating Frogmore Cottage also included more than 18 months’ rent, royal accounts have revealed.

Critics had urged Harry and Meghan to pay back the millions spent refurbishing the property after they stepped down as working royals for financial and personal freedom and moved to the US early in 2020.

It was thought the substantial sum covered just the updating of the period home close to Windsor Castle, but the annual report on royal finances appears to indicate that it included rental costs as well.

Harry and Meghan were living at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, Berkshire
(Image: Daily Mirror)

A senior royal source said: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have paid £2.4 million and we’re satisfied that, on the basis of that payment, it satisfies all their current obligations.”

Harry and Meghan paid rent for the five months up to May last year, the report stated, and later paid the £2.4 million refurbishment bill.

The large sum also appears to cover a 22-month rental period – from June 2020 until March 2022 when the couple’s annual licence to occupy their private UK home is up for renewal.

The source said: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have paid £2.4 million, which covers the rental income in 2020/21, rental income in 2021/22… So all of the payments are reflected in the accounts.”

In the 2018/19 royal financial report the work to renovate Frogmore Cottage was listed as costing £2.4 million, with the document adding: “The scheme consisted of the reconfiguration and full refurbishment of five residential units in poor condition to create the official residence for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their family.

“The works started on site in November 2018 and were substantially completed by the end of March 2019.”

A spokesperson for the Sussexes said: “The duke made a substantial contribution to the Sovereign Grant last year to support necessary and existing refurbishments to Frogmore Cottage, which specifically included essential structural updates to the building.

“As part of this agreement, all tenant obligations are being met. The duke and duchess continue to operate with no money being drawn from the UK taxpayer.”

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are now financially independent, says Clarence House
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Details of an investigation into claims of bullying made against Meghan were expected to be included in the report but were not, and the source said the cost of the ongoing independent inquiry by a law firm is being met privately.

It is likely that a senior member of the Royal Family is paying the bill, but it is unclear when or if the privately funded report will be published.

Accounts for the Sovereign Grant show the monarchy cost the taxpayer £87.5 million during 2020/21 – an increase of £18.1 million on the previous financial year.

The Queen was left with a £10 million shortfall in her finances amid the Covid pandemic, and had to break into savings to fill the gap.

With royal activity curtailed by the pandemic, most of the major expenditure areas have fallen, but property maintenance soared by £11.2 million to £49.5 million as the 10-year project to renovate Buckingham Palace continued.

Income plunged from £20.2 million in 2019/20 to £9.4 million in 2020/21.

The Sovereign Grant – money given to the monarch by the Government based on the income surplus from the Crown Estate two years ago, increased £3.5 million to £85.9 million during 2020/21 .

It comprised a core element of £51.5 million that funds the Queen’s official duties and her household, and an additional £34.4 million pays for ongoing reservicing costs for the palace.