Just one question: As officially “financially independent” ex-royals, who no longer receive funding from the Sovereign Grant, how will they pay for such a palatial property? Here’s one idea: They could rent out their place by the hour.
In fact, that may already have been happening. On Oct. 16, the Daily Star reported that long before Harry and Markle had moved in, back in August, their property was up for rent on the film location site Giggster for $700 an hour.
And even after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex moved in, their house allegedly remained up on Giggster, only to disappear abruptly once the British press pounced on the story.
Tatler notes that the listing now reads, “Sorry, this location was unpublished.”
Just 90 miles north of Los Angeles, the couple’s 18,000-square-foot estate comes with nine bedrooms and 16 bathrooms, plus a pool and tennis court.
Clearly, it would be a splendid spot not only for filming movies, but weddings, fundraisers, and other events that call for a gorgeous backdrop.
Still, given that hordes of royal fans and paparazzi would no doubt pay any price to get a peek at this famously private couple’s new digs, you have to wonder: Are these rumors about their residence even true?
Giggster did not respond to our request for comment, but some real estate experts say that given both Harry and Markle’s current financial belt-tightening and the cost of maintaining this massive home, renting it out by the hour could make a whole lot of sense.
Why Harry and Meghan may want to rent out their place
As strange as it may seem that wealthy people would need to rent out their massive mansions, it’s surprisingly common, particularly in a posh neighborhood near Los Angeles like Santa Barbara.
“Santa Barbara County has dozens upon dozens of scenic houses that you can rent by the day for a variety of reasons,” adds Tyler Drew, CEO of Anubis Properties in Los Angeles.
“This includes wedding destinations with on-site catering and weekend getaways. Some are open to the public, and others are only available if you know the owners personally.”
Given that Harry and Meghan are likely to be traveling quite often, renting out their home while they’re away could help fund their lavish lifestyle.
“They probably need the money, since their exodus from royal status and the overhead required for keeping up a mansion like this is extremely costly,” posits Cara Ameer, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Los Angeles.
While a $700 price tag doesn’t seem that steep, keep in mind that when the listing was reportedly up, the property had mandated a 10-hour minimum in the fine print, designed to eliminate anyone who wasn’t a serious financial player in the film business.
“The message here is to make sure you have deep pockets or go home—tire-kicking production companies need not apply,” says Ameer.
Other stipulations on the Giggster listing, understandable in the pandemic, were that the group visiting must be limited to a maximum of 15 people—with further bans on smoking, pets, and alcohol (which could make for a rather dull soiree).
The risks Meghan and Harry could face renting out their home
Probably the biggest concern if the couple were to rent out their house would be security clearances.
“There’s a tremendous amount of vetting that goes on each time a film or photo shoot is arranged,” says Ameer.
In addition to privacy issues, “There’s potential for wear and tear on the property, and security is a huge issue when you’re allowing access to outsiders onto the grounds.”
The Giggster listing also reportedly stipulated that one type of filming would definitely not be allowed on the premises: porn. Which makes sense, although shockingly, adult films are not always a no-no for wealthy homeowners who rent out their pads in this manner.
“If it’s a flashy, rockstar kind of property, then perhaps the porn thing may actually help the home’s marketability,” says Ameer. “But not so much if it’s a place that’s geared toward families.” Or displaced royals, apparently.