Harry and Meghan have reimbursed taxpayers in full for the £2.4 million ($4.7m) used to renovate their Windsor home – in a dramatic escalation of their "divorce" from the Royal Family.
In an unexpected move, the couple – who had been paying back the cash in monthly instalments – announced they had totally refunded the Sovereign Grant for the redevelopment of five-bedroom Frogmore Cottage on the Queen's Berkshire estate.
Sources close to the couple also claimed they would no longer be asking Prince Charles for handouts as they sought to establish "financial independence".
The surprise move came after it was revealed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had secured a lucrative deal to produce shows for streaming giant Netflix, said to be worth in the region of £75million ($147.5 million).
The £2.4m in public money that was used to convert Frogmore from what had been five small staff cottages into a larger country home for the couple has been a particular bone of contention since they quit as working royals in January.
Critics had argued that not only should the cash be refunded in full after their move to California, but they should also forfeit their right to even live at Frogmore, which was given to them by the Queen.
Those calls intensified after they recently bought an £11 million (NZ$21.6m) nine-bedroom, 16-bathroom mansion in Montecito, Santa Barbara, with a £7.5m ($14.7m) mortgage.
Until now, they had been paying back the money at a rate of £18,000 ($35,400 a month – a figure which also covered "rent" on the property.
This meant it would have taken them 11 years to repay the British taxpayer, a timeframe many felt was far too long given the couple's earning potential.
But last night, a spokesman for the couple said Prince Harry had now repaid the money in full. They said: "A contribution has been made to the Sovereign Grant by the Duke of Sussex.
"This contribution as originally offered by Prince Harry has fully covered the necessary renovation costs of Frogmore Cottage, a property of Her Majesty the Queen, and will remain the UK residence of the duke and his family."
The spokesman made clear the Sussexes would continue to use the Windsor property, for which they will now continue to pay an undisclosed "commercial" rent, as a UK base.
The Mail has been told that the decision to suddenly pay back the money in full came as a surprise to royal officials. One well-placed source said the Sovereign Grant money had always been a "sore spot" for Harry, who – rightly or wrongly – felt it was used as a means of "controlling" him by members of his own family, and by the media.
The Sovereign Grant is the money given by the Treasury to support the Queen as Head of State. It meets the running expenses of her official household, as well as the maintenance of properties owned by the Crown Estate.
The source told the Mail yesterday Harry "made very clear from the start that he wanted to repay that money because he felt that if he handed it back then no-one would have the right to control him".
They added: "But while he uses the word control, many see this as a desire by Harry to escape criticism under a fair and free Press." The source added that Harry had never seemed in "any rush" to repay the sum in its entirety.
"This has come as something of a surprise," they admitted, "and it can only be assumed this has something to do with the Netflix deal. Maybe it now means he can afford to pay the money back in full at once or maybe he has been irritated by the criticism that the deal has led to of his finances. No one really knows.
"But if he thinks that it will make him immune from public and media scrutiny, he is misguided.
"This new, highly visible media role that he is seeking in the US makes him more of a public figure than ever."