We visit Harry and Meghan’s Montecito neighborhood where they had a 17 course evening and Harry brought his own steak
UNTIL two years ago, this was a place none of us had heard of, let alone located.
Now, thanks to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, there’s no escaping Montecito.
Whether they’re pontificating via Zoom from one of the nearly 50 rooms in their £11million mansion or sitting in a neighbour’s garden chatting to Oprah, this ultra-exclusive neighborhood is at fame what Windsor is to royalty.
So what does the star-studded enclave on the outskirts of Santa Barbara really look like?
And, most importantly, what do Meghan and Harry actually do all day?
Previous reports have described the couple as ‘super-reclusive’, suggesting they’re doing nothing but sitting on the seven-acre grounds of their 16-bathroom home and thinking of new ways to meet. Or awake.
In fact, says the owner of their nearby organic grocery store, that’s not fair.
“They’re pretty community-minded,” he says. “They’re not exactly walking around town all day, every day, but they make an effort to mingle and be as normal as possible.
“Well, as normal as it gets to be with security in golf carts driving around the perimeter of your house.
Harry doesn’t go to the local hardware store or drugstore for odds and ends – he presumably has “people” for that – but they both make an effort to go out to dinner and chat with the locals.
In fact, we can reveal that two weeks ago the couple enjoyed a “date night” at the city’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, Sushi/Bar.
The intimate space only serves ten diners at a time, offering a £109 17-course Omakase tasting menu including otoro, kurodai, Ticino red, albacore tuna and scallops.
Alas, Harry does not eat fish. Instead, he got special permission to bring his own £23 steak from a restaurant called Lucky’s down the road. Which brought him luck.
Julian, one of the waiters, explains: “Harry said he doesn’t eat fish, so we let him bring his own takeaway and eat it while Meghan ate her sushi.
“She followed the 17 dishes and I think they drank saki. They seemed really nice and were friendly.
Carnivorous Harry is a regular at Lucky’s steakhouse, and the couple sat down at an outdoor table on a double date with showbiz pals David Foster and Katherine McPhee.
Another server, who did not wish to be named, added: “They come here quite often, but we were asked not to discuss or talk about them.
We were also told not to talk to them and that photos were not allowed. So they are not disturbed every time they come here.
The couple also enjoy low-key parties and £12 cocktails at the Honor Bar – where neighbors Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi are also regulars. Oprah, not so much.
“They make an effort to discuss with the inhabitants”
They were seen at the exclusive San Ysidro Ranch, dining al fresco on the grounds of the five-star hotel where Harry Styles went public with his new girlfriend Olivia Wilde. Katy Perry is also a fan.
For daily groceries, locals say Meghan is a regular at the Montecito Country Mart. This is not the case with the Morrisons.
She also visits the upscale family-owned delicatessen, Pierre Lafond, for fresh flowers and baked goodies.
The owner of Montecito’s Village Cheese And Wine, a small gourmet shop selling a range of, uh, cheeses and wines (and some specially imported coffees) reveals that Meghan wrote a beautifully written note thanking him for a basket of treats he had sent the couple over for Christmas when they moved in.
In the card, which he showed to The Sun, Meghan wrote on gold embossed ‘M’ stationery, with a wreath on it: ‘Thank you for the generous Christmas basket and for all the work you do in this very special community.
“We appreciate your kindness and your very warm welcome. Long live 2021!”, and signed it “Meghan and her family”
Owner Patrick added: ‘It was such a thoughtful and special gesture, and no one knows she did it. We didn’t expect that at all, and we’re just glad she enjoyed her treats.
“She’s brought a lot to this community, and I think everyone is happy to have her here.”
And they should be. House prices have soared 12% since the couple moved there in the spring of 2020, with the average cushion now costing £3.9million.
While Harry was recently embroiled in a court case over who should pay for security while the couple are in the UK, the Duke, it seems, is more than happy to pay for his own security closer to home. his home.
Indeed, in front of the driveway leading to their magnificent residence is a sign, bearing the name of a private security company, above the warm and welcoming words, in capital letters: “ARMED RESPONSE”.
Turning sharply away from their driveway — as an Amazon Prime van pulled up to drop off two packages — I bump into a neighbor dressed casually in a huge pastel pink fur coat and white bikini.
“We’re letting Harry and Meghan be,” she growls, as I approach, cautiously.
“There are a lot of famous people here, so nobody makes fun of two other rich people.”
The sycamore-lined coastal road, a five-minute drive from their home, is stunning.
Yet it is a real nightmare at rush hour which, in Los Angeles, lasts from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and sees cars getting stuck bumper to bumper.
And that’s something even Harry and Meghan can’t avoid.
The drive to their Archewell Studios in downtown Los Angeles takes about two and a half hours, which may explain why they haven’t been spotted there much.
Passionate about Pilates and yoga, Meghan, 40, also avoids the city’s wellness studios.
But then again, why would she work out in public when the couple use a sprawling home gym, complete with a Reformer machine, weights and state-of-the-art cardio kit?
Plus a swimming pool and a shower room to cool off afterwards.
The couple also have a home cinema, which means they don’t have to dig into the pick ‘n’ mix with the hoi polloi.
While the Duke and Duchess of Sussex aren’t exactly famous for their relentless work ethic, Harry has been more at home lately, working on his upcoming memoir.
While the Prince, who left Eton with two A-levels, was not given the remains of the book, his Pulitzer Prize-winning ghostwriter JR Moehringer has reportedly been a regular visitor to Harry’s lately.
“Archie trotted with them very gently”
“He and Harry have walked away, leaving no stone unturned,” a publishing insider said – words the Royal Family would be urged to steer clear of.
While all Penguin Random House staff have signed watertight nondisclosure agreements, insiders describe it as ‘dynamite’
Luckily, it’s not just work, no play for our industrious prince.
Harry was spotted cycling along the coastal path, wearing baggy shorts, sports sunglasses and a collared t-shirt (you can pull out the Chelsea Sloane…) .
He passes a hippie shack selling hemp coffees and seaweed smoothies but, according to the owner, has never been tempted by his wares.
And even though he is the father of young Archie and Lilibet, he still manages to find time every morning to meditate for 45 minutes.
While Archie, who turns three in May, was spotted holding hands with Meghan and Harry on occasion – “he tripped between them, very gently” – there were few sightings of little Lilibet.
Meghan and Harry can enjoy a much more laid back lifestyle in Montecito – named one of the 50 best places to travel in 2019 – and the Duchess is regularly spotted in flip flops.
There are 15 different hiking trails, all of which offer stunning views of Santa Barbara and the Pacific, and the couple were seen climbing many of them, dressed in baseball caps and sneakers.
Meghan usually wears luxurious sports leggings and a t-shirt, as two guards walk ten yards away.
While you’d think the ex-royals’ £112m deal with Netflix would tear them to shreds, thankfully they seem to have dictated things at their own pace.
Which, with the best will in the world, is best described as “slow”.
Only two series are said to be in the works – Heart Of Invictus, on his (brilliant) initiative for wounded soldiers, and an animated show called Pearl, about the adventures of a young girl “inspired by influential women in history”. .
Which looks more like a Meghan project.
Despite their less busy schedules, the duo have taken on a new £30 an hour dog walker for their pooches – rescue pup Pula and Guy the beagle.
Local resident Kellie says: “Harry sometimes cycle down the coast and my friend saw them hiking last year with their dogs.
“But they have a dog walker now – who looks really nice – so we don’t really see them on the trails now.
“Unless they go at sunrise, which is a possibility.”
This is, of course, a possibility largely thanks to the region’s near-perfect year-round climate.
And with a wealth of activities on offer – from surfing and hiking to horse riding (Archie has apparently started taking lessons), it’s no wonder Harry has given up on the UK.
It’s a wonderful place but, Harry, you’re welcome to stay put.