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ALISON BOSHOFF: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are making Santa Barbara their new home

A slice of paradise for the wealthy and woke; where you can ‘absorb micro minerals’ by doing yoga in a pink salt cave, buy a silk kaftan from Gwynnie then pop out for a camomile brûlée.

Welcome to Santa Barbara, the new home of Harry and Meghan and celebrity pals Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Surely we should have suspected this might be the ultimate destination for our disgruntled prince and his ‘California girl’ bride.

Known as the ‘America Riviera’, Santa Barbara has its own airport, a Polo club where Prince William has played and hums with deep pocketed humanitarians, right-on and rich. So what lies in store for Harry and Meghan? Alison Boshoff reports…

A source says of the royal move to Montecito, Santa Barbara: ‘They intend to put down roots in this house and the quiet community, which has considerable privacy.’

They will be among friends who share those priorities. The sense of privacy was also a massive draw for Meghan’s friend and confidante Oprah Winfrey, who until yesterday was its most famous resident.

She has expanded her ocean-side Promised Land estate in Montecito from 42 acres to 70 and recently bought a house from actor Jeff Bridges because it neighboured hers.

Her 23,000-square-foot mansion has a library, 14 bathrooms, rose gardens and fountains in her landscaped grounds. There is also an outdoor theatre and man-made fishing lake.

Another local friend is Ellen DeGeneres, the chat show host who is going through a scandal over her alleged ‘mean’ behaviour on her daytime chat show.

She revealed recently that she had visited the Sussexes soon after Archie’s birth, had fed him and described Harry and Meghan as the ‘cutest couple.’ She and Meghan text each other.

Her main home with actress Portia de Rossi is in Beverly Hills, but she has four houses in Santa Barbara.

The most intriguing, bought in January for £2.7million, are a pair of 18th-century half-timbered houses which used to sit in Surrey.

They were dismantled and shipped at huge expense by a previous owner and are now in a wooded 1.3 acre plot in Montecito, connected by a glass orangerie.

There will be plenty of little friends for baby Archie, now 15 months.

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher have daughter Wyatt, five, and son Dimitri, three. Natalie Portman’s children, Aleph and Amalia, are nine and three.

An hour down the coast in Malibu is Leo Hess. He is the son of Meghan’s best pal, the designer Misha Nonoo, and was born in March, so is less than a year younger than Archie.

What could be more indicative of the solid silver character of the area than the fact it has a polo club?

Harry will be able to take part in the sport, which he has long loved, at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. Prince William played at a charity event here in 2011 while on a tour of California.

Yoga and wellness are huge in the area. Meghan and Harry may enjoy the gong baths at Salt, a spa situated in a man-made underground salt-lined cave, with crystals flown in from the Himalayas.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s website Goop calls it: ‘A total new age freak-out in the best possible way.’

Santa Barbara has a reputation as a food lover’s paradise. Celebs flock to Lucky’s Steakhouse. More modish food is offered at the vegan Mesa Verde, where a Wheatberry brunch bowl, of black lentils, harisa, radishes and za’atar, will cost you $15 (£11).

Actor Sir Patrick Stewart is a fan of La Super Rica Taqueria – a Mexican restaurant – saying: ‘I will not queue – ever. Except here.’ The area is very popular for wine touring and Meghan, who named her blog the Tig after an Italian wine Tignanello, is sure to be in heaven.

Top schools in Montecito include Laguna Blanca, a private co-ed day school that says it ‘celebrates the worth of the individual’. The pupil teacher ratio is 6:1. Another option for Archie would be the exclusive Crane County School which was founded in 1928. Both cost about £20,000 a year.

This part of the world is sometimes called ‘North Hollywood’ because so many showbiz types love it.

Gwyneth Paltrow calls it a ‘jewel’ and spent £3.5million on two plots of land in 2016. She is building a massive holiday home for her and children Apple, 16, and Moses, 14.

Actress Natalie Portman, 39, paid £4.9million for a ten-acre modern retreat made of steel, glass and concrete on a cliff top with amazing ocean views.

Kevin Costner has been a Santa Barbara resident for 20 years although he and wife Christine Baumgartner have been trying to sell their house, which was on the market for £37.5 million, since 2017.

Star Wars creator George Lucas had a beachfront house then snapped up its neighbour as well.

Ronald Reagan – a B-movie actor at the time – bought a 688 acre ranch 12 miles away in the Santa Ynez Mountains in 1974. 

 

Prince Harry and Meghan’s £8million secret Santa Barbara house buy came under scrutiny today – after it emerged Prince Charles helped with funds and the couple are still paying off Frogmore Cottage’s renovations.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex ditched Tyler Perry’s 12-bedroom Beverly Hills mansion for the ‘considerable privacy’ of the new property.

They have been living in the upscale California community for six weeks since early July under the radar.

Their neighbours now include close friends Ellen DeGeneres, 62, as well as Oprah Winfrey, 66, who also have multi-million-pound properties there, as well as Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis.

But there were questions asked about the expense after the pair had agreed to pay £18,000 a month to repay £2.4million used to refurbish and renovate their previous Frogmore Cottage residence.

Royal expert Ingrid Seward told MailOnline she understood why people were asking about the price spent on the new home.

She said: ‘I think people at this moment of time when Meghan and Harry do anything to do with money, it isn’t going to be looked at very favourably. People will not like what they do when it involves a lot of money.’ 

Film directors and screenwriters are also known to favour their new community – nicknamed Beverly Hills North – due to its proximity to Hollywood and LA. Santa Barbara also has a bi-weekly Woke Men groups for people to get in touch with their feelings.

Royal insiders said Prince Charles had contributed money to his son to help him secure the property for his family. 

A source said: ‘Charles had been keen to help out and put his hand in his own pocket to assist. He is devoted to both his sons and any time he can assist them he always will’. Clarence House declined to comment.

At their peak Harry and Meghan’s combined wealth had been estimated to be worth around £33 million.

He was estimated to have earned as much as £700,000 to speak at a star-studded JP Morgan summit in Miami in February. Papers for their now in liquidation Sussex Royal Foundation also showed it was owed £200,000 from an unknown source. 

News of the couple’s new home were revealed last night, surprising fans of the couple who had no idea they had left Beverly Hills.

It came hours after controversial new Harry and Meghan biography Finding Freedom was finally released. 

A source said: ‘Harry and Meghan have been quietly living in their own home in Santa Barbara since early July.

‘They are not houseguests of Oprah or anyone else, they bought this home themselves. This is where they want to continue their lives after leaving the UK.

‘This is the first home either of them has ever owned. It has been a very special time for them as a couple and as a family — to have complete privacy for six weeks since they moved in.

‘They intend to put down their roots in this house and the quiet community, which has considerable privacy. This is where they want to bring Archie up, where they hope he can have as normal a life as possible.’  

Little details are known about the home, but the source told Page Six the couple have vetted the property.  

‘They have thought about this carefully and researched it well. This is the place where they plan to be happy, make good friends and bring up Archie, giving him the chance to play with other children his age,’ the insider added.

Most properties in Santa Barbara cost between £1.5million and £15million according to estate agents in the US.

Cristal Clarke, of Montecito Sotheby’s International Realty, told Mansion Global: ‘Occasionally a house will sell for over $20million (£15million).

‘The most popular price bracket is $4million (£3million) to $10million (£7.6million) and buyers pay in excess of $5million (£3.8million) for a home with a sea view.’

Oprah’s property is worth $100million (£76.6million) and has been nicknamed by her as her ‘promised land’, while Ellen and wife Portia de Rossi’s home is worth $27million (£20.7million).

Star Wars creator and director George Lucas has a $28million (£21.4million) house, while Gwyneth Paltrow bought there for $4.9million (£3.8million).

Actor Rob Lowe has got a property in Santa Barbara worth $47million (£36million), while Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis have got a $10million (£7.6million) beach home in the area.

Harry and Meghan had been staying at Tyler Perry’s $18million (£13.8million), 12-bedroom, eight-bathroom Beverly Hills mansion for the last few months. 

Perry is close friends with Oprah, who lives just a few miles away from where the couple now reside. He is also represented by some of the same people representing the couple.

‘While it was a nice favor to them at a very difficult time, Tyler Perry’s house with 18 bedrooms isn’t Harry’s style. Yes, he grew up in royalty and the halls of Buckingham Palace, but he prefers more intimate homes with character,’ the source said.  

The couple have taken legal action against numerous paparazzi agencies after Archie was pictured with Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland in a driveway at the house. 

‘Harry and Meghan are both very upset by this breach of privacy, but that wasn’t the reason they left Los Angeles. They were already in the process of buying their home in Santa Barbara. 

‘Harry and Meghan never intended to make Los Angeles their home. It was a good place for them to be upon their arrival in the US to be close to Meghan’s mother,’ the source shared. 

A spokesperson for the couple confirmed that they have moved to the new home.  

‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex moved into their family home in July of this year. They have settled into the quiet privacy of their community since their arrival and hope that this will be respected for their neighbours, as well as for them as a family,’ the source said.

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