It's hard to believe, but it was just three months ago that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they were "stepping back" as senior royals. Since then, they have attended their last event as working members of the royal family—the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey—escaped to Canada, where Meghan used to film Suits, and made their way to sunny streets of Los Angeles, all against the backdrop of a global pandemic. Now Meghan, Harry, and their almost-one-year-old Archie are reportedly quarantining in a "secluded compound" in Malibu. How did they pull off this transition so quickly? And do they finally have the lifestyle they want? Let's discuss.
Hiding out in Canada
After Meghan and Harry completed their last appearance as working royals on March 9, they retreated to Vancouver Island in Canada, where they had been staying as they worked out their official separation from the royal family. (They reportedly stayed in a private home in a deal that was brokered by celebrity composer David Foster, of all people.)
Around this time, the coronavirus crisis became much more serious in North America, and some of the couple's closest friends became directly affected. Sophie Trudeau, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, tested positive for coronavirus, and Meghan and Harry were reportedly "very concerned" for her. A source told Page Six, "Right now Meghan and Harry are just concerned for the health and safety of others. These are scary times and they are more worried about what is happening in the world than what's next for them." (Sophie has since recovered.)
In the same Page Six story, a source insisted that Meghan and Harry had no plans to leave Canada, despite rumors to the contrary. "The pair are also not moving to Malibu, but will use Canada as a base for the foreseeable future," the outlet reported.
But People, which has long been Meghan's favorite tabloid (remember this exclusively sourced, sympathetic cover story from last year?), got different information. On March 13, the tabloid reported that Meghan and Harry had "their sights set on California."
"They love being in Canada, but they are looking at houses in LA too," a "person in their circle" told the mag. "They'll likely have houses in both places."
But with social distancing recommendations going into effect—California issued a statewide shelter-in-place order on March 19—it seems highly unlikely that Meghan and Harry had time to do any significant real estate shopping. So how did they make the move?
Escape to LA
On March 26—six days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump closed the US-Canada border—People reported that Meghan and Harry had, in fact, left Vancouver Island for LA. The tabloid was careful not to reveal when, exactly, the couple traveled to their new home base. If they were spotted on the journey, no tabloids have reported on it. It's likely that they took a private plane, something they have been criticized for in the past.
According to the Daily Mail, Meghan and Harry found a soft place to land. The British tabloids sources say Meghan, Harry, and Archie are staying at one of several Malibu mansions owned by the oil tycoon John B. Hess. The connection: Meghan is best friends with fashion designer Misha Nonoo who married Hess's son Mikey in Rome last fall. (Meghan reportedly read a poem during the ceremony.) The Mail reported last week that Meghan and Harry are looking for a permanent home on the beach while they stay at the Hess property. So far, they have not been photographed in the area.
Unfortunately, news of Meghan and Harry's escape to LA reached the White House last week. President Trump tweeted that the U.S. would not be responsible for the couple's security costs, and that "they must pay!" A spokesperson for Meghan and Harry told news outlets, "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have no plans to ask the U.S. government for security resources. Privately funded security arrangements have been made."
This response seems to confirm that Meghan and Harry have set up camp in LA. Longtime fans of Meghan will probably not be surprised that this is where the couple ended up. As Meghan wrote in her now-shuttered lifestyle blog The Tig years ago, "I was born and raised in Los Angeles, a California girl who lives by the ethos that most things can be cured with either yoga, the beach or a few avocados."
Meghan and Harry's last official day as working royals was March 31. They are now free, theoretically, to start working on any project that pleases them, but it's likely that most of their plans are on hold for now.
The Telegraph reported this week that Meghan and Harry are planning to launch a charitable foundation called Archewell, forcing the couple to reveal (some) of their plans. "Like you, our focus is on supporting efforts to tackle the global COVID-19 pandemic," they said in a statement. "But faced with this information coming to light, we felt compelled to share the story of how this came to be. Before SussexRoyal, came the idea of 'Arche'—the Greek word meaning 'source of action.' We connected to this concept for the charitable organisation we hoped to build one day, and it became the inspiration for our son's name."
"We look forward to launching Archewell when the time is right," they added. According to several reports, the couple poached Catherine St. Laurent from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to serve as Chief of Staff of the new organization.
One project that has come to fruition is Elephant, a Disney documentary that Meghan narrated which was released online on April 3. (Never forget that video of Harry hitting up executive chairman Bob Iger for voiceover work for Meghan at The Lion King premiere last summer). According to Page Six, however, Meghan will not return to acting. "She's not going to be a Marvel hero or a Disney princess—none of those things," a source told the gossip outlet. "It's completely fabricated, and completely at odds with their plans. It's simply not a conversation that has happened."
In mid-March, People reported that Meghan and Harry had accepted an invitation to vacation with the Queen this summer at her residence in Scotland. That trip looks less likely by the day, and any kind of U.K. visit is probably a long way off. For now, it looks like Meghan and Harry are stuck on a beach, far away from the British tabloids and the rest of the royal family, which is probably not so bad.