This December marks 52 years since a British queen made Southern California her new home—not an actual monarch, mind you, but the legendary ocean liner Queen Mary that remains to this day a tourist attraction in Long Beach.
It’s not the only British presence in California, if you consider the countless entertainers—“Hollywood royalty”, if you will—who populate the hillsides and beaches in the greater Los Angeles area.
The question is: will that number grow by three if the news reports are correct and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, i.e., Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (and their newborn son), plan to add a California property to their real-estate portfolio?
This isn’t to suggest that the royals plan to become full-time Californians. News report also have the couple looking a home in one of the Commonwealth’s African nations, in addition to their current country cottage in England. So perhaps the plan is for the Sussexes to be global citizens in the truest sense.
But California as one of their North American way stations?
It makes perfect sense. Here’s why:
First, the main economic consideration that drives young families out of California—the middle-class squeeze of finding an affordable home and getting by on two incomes, with access to quality schools and a reasonable work commute—doesn’t apply to these new parents.
While the British royal family’s worth is estimated to be close to $90 billion, Harry “gets by” on a fortune closer to $40 million (that includes inheritances, trust funds, and his salary as a British Army officer). Let’s assume Harry could either come up with the money on his own to buy a California home, or convince his grandmother or his father, the current occupant of and heir to the throne, respectively, to cosign a loan.
But where to live?
As of February, the “typical” home price in Los Angeles was a shade under $580,000. Why Los Angeles? Because the duchess’s mother lives there (in a two-bedroom home in the city’s Windsor Hills district). From fashion and fitness to cuisine, it suits the duchess’s lifestyle. And, as for many an established celebrity, there’s a natural landing spot: an upper-seven-figure home in Brentwood (I’m picking that tony part of LA because it’s home to the Meghan Markle comfort zone of Tracy Anderson’s exercise studio and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop store).
LA’s second selling point for the globe-trotting Sussexes: education, if they’re so inclined.
In February, for the first time in six years, California released the names of its lowest-performing schools. In all, some 1,640 schools, one-sixth of all California K–12 public schools, were deemed in need of comprehensive or targeted assistance, as they’re struggling to adequately serve their student populations. The Los Angeles Unified School District is home to 110 of those schools.
But that’s not where Baby Sussex and his future siblings would enroll, should they break with family tradition and matriculate somewhere other than Eton or, as with their great-grandmother the queen, get an education at home.
Odds are that Harry and Meghan would do the same as other privileged Brentwood parents: send their kids to the likes of the Carlthorp School and the Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences, thus ensuring the “woke” parents that their progeny receive a daily forced feeding of progressive idealism, gender neutrality, and anti-microaggression sermonizing.
LA’s third selling point: for the duchess, it’s strength in numbers. If palace watchers are correct and she’s a liberal fish out of water in Harry’s world of British aristocracy, it’s just the opposite on the west side of Los Angeles and its clique of uber-wealthy liberals who haven’t met a progressive cause they didn’t like.
Consider this “new world” that British explorer Harry would enter:
- A state where individuals applying for an original or renewal driver license are free to choose one of three categories for gender: male, female, or nonbinary.
- A state where new parents can obtain gender-neutral birth certificates.
- A state where, if the governor has his way, paid family leave for a new baby eventually will expanded to six months (in the United Kingdom, new dads get only two weeks).
- A state where the governor’s wife isn’t California’s First Lady, but instead the state’s “First Partner”—with “cultural change” her mission of choice.
Californian paradise, of course, comes at a price (other than the housing and the struggling public schools). Should Harry buy a Tesla for his missus but a Range Rover for himself, he’ll discover that gasoline in the Golden State goes for more than $4 a gallon, the steepest price in America. Then again, a gallon of gas in London runs closer to $6 a gallon.
Now, let’s suppose the duchess wants to reboot her acting career (before marrying Prince Harry, Megan Markle was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her actress best known for playing an attorney on the television series Suits).
The duchess may be able to find work, but California is hardly a paradise for working women with children. A study released earlier this month by the website WalletHub deemed California the nation’s worst state for median women’s salary and next-to-last in daycare quality.
California also placed:
- In the bottom ten worst for female unemployment and child-care costs;
- Below average in its ratio of female executives to male executives;
- Average in pediatricians per capita;
- Above average in size of gender pay gap and length of the average woman’s workday.
For Meghan Markle, should she want to add California to her housing portfolio, this provides an opportunity. She could easily filter back into show business (the line forms to the rear for networks that would kill for a “Living Sussex” reality show).
But if equality and social justice are where this new mother wants to makes a difference (her son, seventh in line to the British throne, is believed to be the first person of mixed race in such a senior position in the history of the empire), then the Golden State lines up as a unique fixer-upper for the house-hunting duchess.
Forget the protocol and posturing that comes with being a member of the House of Windsor—a house, we assume, that’s too uptight for Meghan Markle’s progressive belief system. And forget taking up space in Los Angeles as just another celebrity couple (do the Sussexes really want to be the new “Posh and Becks” . . . or, even worse, this generation’s Duke and Duchess of Windsor?).
Maybe she and Harry should set their sights on a different part of California—and a different line of work. I’m thinking: a large California city where smug progressivism is never in short supply and a European import with dual citizenship, a show-business past, and living in a (racially/politically) mixed marriage, can reach the greatest heights of power.
Is Sacramento ready for Governor Sussex—and her First Partner, Harry?