Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have found their forever home. Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family co-author and royal correspondent Omid Scobie tells ET that the former royals are settling into their new Santa Barbara mansion and are entering a “very special part of their life.”
“Finding a house in the middle of a pandemic is difficult, but they were able to find a peaceful home in Santa Barbara. A home that they have bought with their own money,” Scobie tells ET. “There’s been a lot of speculation about Prince Charles potentially funding this. But this is really a moment for them to find their independence. They’ve done this on their own.”
“Like many couples, they have a mortgage,” he continues. “It is a peaceful home. It’s a forever home and somewhere where they’ll lay their roots. It has space for Archie, a playground. Really, it’s gonna be a special part of their life.”
ET learned that Meghan and Harry purchased a nine-bedroom, 19-bathroom home in Montecito, California. The 18,671-square-foot house, which was built in 2003, was purchased June 17 by the couple for $14.6 million.
The family had previously been living in Tyler Perry‘s eight-bedroom, 12-bathroom, $18 million Tuscan-style mansion in Beverly Hills.
“One of the most difficult things for Harry and Meghan was moving to the U.S. and not actually having a home of their own,” Scobie says, adding that many people speculated the couple were staying in Los Angeles. “It’s been interesting to see this line drawn between Harry and Meghan’s decision to move to California to some sort of connection to Hollywood. Of course, they’re now living in Santa Barbara, a hundred miles away from Los Angeles.”
As for how they’re paying for their lavish new abode? “Both of them are extremely liquid when it comes to their assets,” explains Scobie. “Harry brings a lot to the table himself and Meghan lives off residuals from Suits and the many appearances that she’s done in other projects too.”
“They focus very much on their philanthropic work, but we have seen them sign with the Harry Walker Agency, they’ll be taking on a lot more smart speaking engagements as a couple and separately,” he continues. “But from what I’m told from sources, all of that work will still have the same social impact. We won’t see them endorsing products or taking on sort of fluffy ventures. Everything will still revolve around the issues that are important to them. I can see them following a path not that dissimilar to the Obamas when they left the White House.”
Among their rumored neighbors are Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher. Scobie tells ET that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex moving to the “very private part of California” was very important for them, especially with paparazzi following them in Los Angeles.
“I think moving slightly out of the city and somewhere where other celebrities are able to enjoy privacy, such as Oprah or Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, they’re really able to now create a safe place to raise Archie, away from prying eyes,” notes Scobie.
While there are some reports suggesting that the couple moved to Santa Barbara to be closer to Winfrey, Scobie says that is not the case. He states that they moved to be closer to Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland.
“Doria is a big helpful hand in their lives and one of the reasons that they chose to be in California in the first place,” he says. “I think for them it was really only over a matter of the U.K. or the U.S. to be near one side of the family or the other. Santa Barbara is a place Meghan has visited many times… but of course, they visited Oprah’s place. I’m sure they would have been very impressed by the place that she has and wanted a slice of it for themselves.”
As for whether Doria is living with the pair, Scobie suggests that she will be there “most of the time,” as Meghan and Harry have a guesthouse on their property.
The couple also are doing their best to stay connected with friends and family amid the coronavirus pandemic and quarantine. Many celebrities have been linked to the former royals, with rumors suggesting that Meghan and Adele have recently become quite close.
“There’s a recent rumor that Meghan and Adele have started doing yoga together. They did live close together when Harry and Meghan were staying at Tyler Perry’s home,” Scobie shares. “But as far as I’m aware, there is a friendship there… No yoga sessions have taken place… They first met when Meghan was supporting Grenfell [Tower] fire victims in London, when she was working with the Hubb Community Kitchen to launch the cookbook. Adele was actually a regular visitor, and they really got to know each other through philanthropy.”
Scobie believes Harry and Meghan’s move to Santa Barbara will bring them closer to other celebrity friends. “Ellen [DeGeneres] is very close, nearby. Meghan and Ellen have a very long history. It was Ellen that convinced Meghan to adopt one of her dogs. They’ve continued that relationship. Ellen and Portia [de Rossi] visit Harry and Meghan and met Archie in London. I’m sure they’ll be regular visitors to the home.”
“They’re living very close to Oprah, a dear confidante of the couple and also a friend of Doria’s, but they have other friends in the area too,” Scobie adds. “Harry and David Foster, the Canadian music producer and composer, has become a very close confidante and someone he can really lean on for business advice and other matters. In fact, from sources, I hear they speak very regularly.”
For more on the couple’s new home, watch above. Finding Freedom is out now.