It’s been two and a half years since they sensationally stepped down as senior royals to restart their life in California. Since then, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have been enjoying a laid-back lifestyle worlds apart from the one they had back in the UK.
The couple live in an £11m nine-bed mansion in Montecito, a town in Santa Barbara, close to LA, with their two children Archie, three, and Lilibet, one.
And since moving to LA – which was a return home for Meghan, who grew up there – the couple have been papped dining at lavish restaurants, hiking in the hills and spending time at the elite Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club – where membership costs over £8,000 a month.
But Meghan, 40, and Harry, 37, like to keep a lot of their lives under wraps – with only brief mentions of their hobbies and habits in interviews. And a source tells Closer how former Suits actress Meghan has been slowly carving out a new lifestyle, which has seen locals dub her “The Princess of Montecito”.
The source reveals, “There’s a lot more going on in Meghan’s world than people think, she just keeps it very private these days but her royal status gives her a lot of leverage. She spends most of her time in Montecito, but she heads into LA every week or so.”
Meghan previously revealed in her now defunct lifestyle blog, The Tig, that she likes a slow-paced morning, with meditation, journaling and hot yoga. She wrote, “On my perfect day, I would wake up late, take my dogs for a walk, do some yoga before a perfect sashimi lunch.”
And the source says she still hikes with their two dogs, Pula and Guy, nearly every day, saying, “Meghan loves driving around LA to go to the same hiking trails that she used to visit back in the day, well off the beaten track. Often she’ll head off just herself and the dogs, which gives her time to reflect.”
After dropping Archie to nursery with a nutritious home-made packed lunch, Meghan will usually head back to her home office, complete with a stone fireplace, neutral décor and stacks of books and crystals.
Sources have previously revealed how the actress-turned-humanitarian has been planning for a career move into politics – which seemed even more likely when Meghan revealed last month that she would be heading to Washington after speaking out against the Roe V. Wade ruling, which bans abortion across several US states.
Meghan is also thought to be working on her podcast, Archetypes, which is set to be released this summer as part of the couple’s £21 million deal with Spotify.
The source says, “Their home is large enough to host most of her business meetings, but sometimes Meghan will secretly book a conference room at the five-star Beverly Hills Hotel, known to locals as The Pink Palace. She’s throwing herself into work on her podcast at the moment, which she can work on from home.”
Within weeks of moving to Montecito, the Sussexes wasted no time in building new friendships with the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Serena Williams, James Corden, and their neighbours, Orlando Bloom and Katy Perry.
The source says, “She spends a fair amount of time at Oprah’s palatial house, where they’ll kick back with her closest friend, Gayle King, and talk about everything from Meghan’s future plans to what’s going on back in the UK and how Harry’s coping with everything.
“Despite her former acting career, she doesn’t go to the movies much but they’ve been known to watch private screenings at Oprah’s place, and other power players in LA have hosted them for dinner parties and spiritual gatherings.”
Meghan is also a self-proclaimed “foodie”. The source adds, “If she’s going into Beverly Hills or West Hollywood for lunch or dinner, she’ll generally call ahead and request a table that is completely secluded.
“Some of her favourite places were off the beaten track and not all that well-known, like gourmet sushi joints in the Downtown area or authentic Mexican places in the area she grew up in. But, generally speaking, these days she likes higher-end hangouts like Cecconi’s, Sunset Tower, Sugarfish or Lucky’s steakhouse in Montecito, which was recommended to them by Oprah. It’s become their favourite and they’re waited on hand and foot. They’re also big fans of Nobu – the bills can often reach up to $5,000, but Meghan and her friends are happy to pay.”
Meanwhile, the source says husband Harry is only too happy to support his wife – and revels in spending time with their two children.
The source reveals, “He’s up at the crack of dawn getting the kids fed, washed and dressed. Meghan’s often very busy on business Zoom calls, or nipping into LA for meetings, which Harry often chauffeurs her to. Then he’s back to the kids as soon as possible because he doesn’t like leaving them with nannies.
“With all this speculation around her political career ambitions, everyone thinks Harry would be happy at the idea of being First Gentleman if she accomplishes her long-term goal. Having said that, he might be fine with it right now – but you have to wonder for how much longer.”