Prince Harry and Meghan are gearing up to move into their new family home, Frogmore Cottage, just in time for them to welcome Baby Sussex in the spring! Now that it’s known where the duke and duchess will be living, many are wondering what it’s like on the inside. And the Queen’s former chef, Darren McGrady, has revealed some details of the cottage’s history.
Speaking exclusively to HELLO!, the food connoisseur shared that it used to serve as accommodation for junior chefs, and the staff quarters were basic and “a little bit run-down,” which must be why the space is said to be undergoing some major renovations and remodelling before move-in day. Darren used to live at Frogmore Stables, which is right next door to the cottage, from 1985 to 1993: “When I was there, Frogmore Cottage was split into five different homes. Staff accommodation was run by the Crown properties so it was paid for by the government and they never really overspend.”
He continued: “It was a fantastic location – you’re in the Queen’s back garden – but a little bit run-down. If something wanted repairing it would just be repaired, it would never be replaced. The staff quarters were never the most luxurious so I can imagine there’s a lot of work to be done to turn them into royal accommodation.”
Given Duchess Meghan’s penchant for interior design, she’s sure to have a big hand in the remodelling – and, of course, the decorating would be largely in her and Prince Harry’s hands! Though the space is referred to as a cottage, it’s certainly one by royal standards, Darren shared: "There was an upstairs and a downstairs and it was equally divided between the chefs. It's a two-storey, stucco faced building. I'm sure it'll be put back together and brought back to its glory for Harry and Meghan. They would need to make a lot of changes though, absolutely! They could easily do 10, 12 bedrooms there and then add in all the extras – the drawing rooms, the sitting rooms, the gym."
Darren was Her Majesty’s personal chef for just over a decade, followed by four years spent tending to the late Princess Diana’s culinary needs at Kensington Palace. The Eating Royally cookbook author’s room was right next to Princes William and Harry’s nursery. Of living at the palace, the chef mused: "At Kensington Palace, you have a tiny, tiny garden but after that you're in the goldfish bowl. You're on the high street, it's not a great place for bringing up children. I honestly think that's why William and Kate decided they'd have a base in Norfolk where they can bring the children up before they went to school in London."
Meghan and Harry’s new home is located in the private Home Park, an area not open to the public and is the “back entrance into Windsor Castle,” he explained. Ten minutes away from the cottage is a nine-hole golf course, a walking path through the mulberry trees, the Prince Consort Farm and the Old Windsor Dairy. "It's much more private than Kensington Palace. The Queen would put on her wellies and walk her dogs there. Harry and Meghan can walk their dogs, go anywhere in the park freely." Great news for the royal dog lovers!
It sounds like the cottage will provide a lovely space for the duke and duchess to raise their children. Quiet and away from the big city bustle, Darren added, they “can sit and look across at the Royal Household Cricket Club and listen to the wood on willow on a Sunday. Then you can sit in the back garden and look out onto Frogmore Gardens which is where Harry and Meghan had their evening wedding reception. And then Sunday afternoon is perfect. You just walk five minutes up the hill for afternoon tea with Granny, with the Queen, at Windsor Castle."