Meghan and Harry break council rules – but details kept secret for ‘national security’

The couple changed their mind about the design in the garden following the granting of planning permission by their local council. However, in newly revealed planning documents published by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council, the couple applied for retrospective planning consent for parts of “external landscaping works” in the garden after using a different design to the one approved by the council. The couple will now not be forced to reverse the work at their pad after retrospective planning consent was granted this afternoon.

The exact details of the changes are not clear, however, because large parts of the application have been redacted – which will add further to the growing secrecy row faced by the couple.

Planning applications, by law, should be published by local councils in full however there are exceptions including some government buildings.

But Ian Ratcliffe, project manager at the Royal Household said in an email to the council’s planning enforcement team that details of the couple’s plans should also be kept secret stressing that “national security could be compromised if public access is given to the plans”.

The royal couple moved into the Grade II listed Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Estate in April ahead of the birth of their first child Archie after an extensive £2.65 million renovation funded by £2.4m from the taxpayer and £250,000 from themselves, according to sources.

The cottage was gifted to the Duke and Duchess by the Queen last year, with Kensington Palace confirming the move in November, saying Windsor was a “very special place” for the couple.

Frogmore Cottage is located near of Windsor Castle, the Queen’s summer residence, and St George’s Chapel, where Harry and Meghan tied the knot in May as millions around the world watched on TV.

Under planning law, a retrospective planning application is submitted if the council if a change is made to a property that requires planning permission and approval has not been sought.

A local authority can also request that a retrospective planning application is submitted for the work that has already carried out.

However, it does not mean that planning permission will automatically be granted and the application will be treated in the usual way.

If the retrospective application is refused, the local authority can issue an enforcement notice which could require the couple to reverse any changes made to Frogmore Cottage.

Under the plans revealed by a well-placed royal source last month, the plans include provision for a Tennis or Badminton Court at the couple’s Windsor home.

There are also said to be plans for exterior painting and landscaping, the installation of security lights and the planting of £20,000-worth of fast-growing shrubs and trees.

Several baby friendly features for the couple’s child Archie as well as a Veggie Garden so the couple can grow their own produce are also included.

The revised plans, according to the source, will be slightly different following a last-minute change of heart by the royal couple.

Commenting on the approval, a well-placed source close to the royal couple said: “The changes have been made to the plans to create the Duke and Duchess’s garden after the original planning consent was granted.

“It’s great news that the plans have been approved as the couple can now finish their project.

“Frogmore Cottage will be the perfect place for a royal prince to grow up with the Duke and Duchess and these changes are very important to create a perfect home for themselves and Archie.”

Plans for the initial multi-million-pound renovation were approved by Royal Maidenhead and Windsor Borough Council in December after asking for permission for “internal and external works […] and associated landscaping”.

But there was no further details on the council’s planning page at the time, just a note which said it contained “sensitive information” so documents wouldn’t be made public.

However, the couples latest project got underway about three weeks ago and is expected to be completed later this summer.

Frogmore Cottage was built in the 18th century for Queen Charlotte, the consort of King George III.

Queen Charlotte used the property as a countryside retreat for herself and her unmarried daughters.

Queen Victoria had breakfast at the cottage in 1875 and said it was a place with an “immense number of frogs” which she found “quite disgusting”.

Kensington Palace said in a statement about the plans previously: “The letter that was submitted to the council, and the language that was used, is standard for planning applications for all Royal Residences. In keeping with the usual process, the details are not released for security reasons.”

Any building work is covered by the Sovereign Grant – funded by the taxpayer – while the couple will pay for the furnishings.

Kensington Palace has been contacted for comment about the decision by the council. 

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