They’ve been busy settling into their new Santa Barbara mansion, but yesterday Prince Harry and Meghan carried out their first charity engagement since lockdown.
The couple were photographed distributing clothing, nappies and other supplies to families in need on behalf of a Los Angeles charity called Baby2Baby.
It comes in the wake of the fuss about Finding Freedom — the sensational book about the couple that was published earlier this month.
But among many fascinating insights into their life and relationships with the rest of the Royal Family, the book also reveals that Harry and Meghan have themselves received many generous acts of benevolence from their powerful supporters.
Again and again, the authors tell how private jets are proffered, and houses loaned — or rented for a price well below market value. Hotel rooms are also made available, often for free or vastly reduced rates.
So what have they bagged, and from whom, according to this apparently authorised account of the couple’s turbulent time in the spotlight? And how much would it have cost them to have paid for all of it themselves? ALISON BOSHOFF reports . . .
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle bought their new home for £11million, but buried in the pages of Finding Freedom are tantalising revelations about largesse they have received – from private jets to luxury hotel stays
Harry and Meghan hired this eight-bedroom mansion owned by studio mogul Tyler Perry in an exlcusive area of Los Angeles
A TEMPORARY MANSION IN HOLLYWOOD: £45,000
The couple hopped over the border from Canada just before the U.S. entered lockdown and landed a vast eight-bedroom mansion owned by studio mogul Tyler Perry – a friend of mutual pal Oprah Winfrey – on Beverley Ridge.
They stayed there gratis for four months while contemplating where to live permanently. This particular home is not available for rent but a similar looking place on Beverley Ridge is advertised for rent at £11,250 a month.
A ROOM IN SOHO HOUSE ON DATE NIGHT: £405
Was there a freebie room for actress Meghan on the night of her first date with Harry at Soho House in London’s Dean Street in July 2016? Authors of Finding Freedom Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand hint as much.
They write: ‘She settled on an outfit and then got started on her make-up in her suite at Soho House’s Dean Street Townhouse property. Meghan had been offered a heavily discounted stay at the five-star Dorchester Hotel but chose the luxurious room secured by Markus [Anderson — Soho House director and Meghan’s friend] instead.
‘As a celebrity and influencer, Meghan was regularly offered free holidays, travel discounts, and the like. But she turned down the Dorchester amid a Hollywood boycott after the hotel chain’s owner, the Sultan of Brunei, introduced sharia law in his country, including death by stoning for those found guilty of gay sex.’
A suite at the Dean Street Townhouse costs from £405 a night.
The Diptyque Baies diffusers proved controversial at the royal wedding but were they provided by the company for free?
LUXURY SCENTS: £130 EACH
The Diptyque Baies diffusers used in St George’s Chapel at the royal wedding are a matter of debate in the book, with the authors saying coverage of this matter proves media bias against the couple, but that they were ‘okayed’ by all involved in the wedding. They note that the diffusers, which cost £130 each, were ‘provided by Diptyque’ — but was it for free?
LUXURY COTTAGE AND SUITE: £4,650
During the couple’s courtship, Markus Anderson ‘put them up’ at a private four-bedroom cottage in the Cotswolds Soho Farmhouse and at the Soho House property at Babington in Somerset (below). The book notes: ‘He put them up at a private four-bedroom cottage, tucked away from the main members’ Soho Farmhouse.
‘In Oxfordshire, barely an hour-and-a-half outside of London, it was the perfect retreat from the city. Although the stone house stood on 100 acres of English countryside, they still enjoyed sashimi and other Japanese dishes delivered to their cottage from Pen Yen, one of the restaurants on the property.’
Babington House is a private members club in Somerset owned by Nick Jones, founder of Soho House
Did they pay for the exclusive break? It certainly sounds as though they did not. Farm Cottage costs £1,800 a night.
Anderson, who had a front-row pew at the Sussexes’ wedding, later arranged for the couple to spend a weekend at Babington House, a Georgian manor near Bath. The property is owned by Nick Jones, the husband of TV and radio presenter Kirsty Young.
He is managing director of the Soho House Group which is much noted for its excellent spa, cocktails and hand-painted wallpaper. The nicest room is a 65 square metre suite with a four-poster bed and views of the garden and lake. It costs £525 a night.
SECRET TRIP TO SEE PRINCE: £49,000
Meghan’s best friend, the Canadian socialite and stylist Jessica Mulroney, was asked to help to get Meghan to the UK for a private visit after the news of the royal romance broke in October 2016.
The book says: ‘Jessica arranged for her to use the private jet of the Canadian real-estate power couple Krystal Koo and Michael Cooper. Long-time friends of Jessica’s, the couple had run interference in the past for Harry and Meghan and were more than happy to help.
‘Fancying a trip to London themselves, Krystal and Michael joked about hiding Meghan in one of the new suitcases Meghan had bought.’
A flight on a private jet from Toronto to London would cost from £49,000 one way.
Harry and Meghan used a private jet to escape on their secret honeymoon after their extravagant wedding in May 2018
PRIVATE JET FOR HONEYMOON: poa
After their wedding in May 2018, Harry and Meghan went on a secret honeymoon which, the authors note, ‘they had flown to on a private jet loaned by a friend. They spent the majority of the week-long trip in the sun at a location so private, most of their friends still don’t know where it was.’
CLOONEY PICKS UP THE BILL: £13,260
Meghan and Harry enjoyed a break with the actor George Clooney and his lawyer wife, Amal, at their home on Lake Como in August 2018. The two couples have been friends for some time.
The book notes: ‘A few months after the drama with her father, George Clooney arranged for Harry and Meghan to fly from London to Lake Como on his own private jet.’
A return flight on a light jet would cost from £13,260.
ROMANTIC VACATION IN THE ARCTIC CIRCLE: £5,021
Norwegian adventure guide Inge Solheim had previously sorted out a romantic jolly for Prince Harry and his then girlfriend Cressida Bonas.
In January 2017, he was asked to arrange a trip to the Arctic Circle for Harry and Meghan — a week in a cabin in Tromsö at the very tip of Norway.
The authors note of Harry and Meghan’s trip: ‘There, Harry and Meghan enjoyed seven days of dog-sledding, whale-watching, dining on local delicacies and snuggling to watch as the aurora borealis lit up the skies.’
Seven nights in a luxury tent with glass roof would cost £3,521, and business-class flights to Tromsö around £1,500. It’s not clear whether the couple paid for their holiday.
Royal couple visited Arctic Circle and enjoyed dog-sledding, local delicacies, whale-watching and Aurora Borealis (file photo)
LOAN OF SYDNEY HOUSE: £5,000
During the couple’s successful tour of Australia in October 2018, they were supported by Jessica Mulroney, who had helped to style Meghan and travelled privately to be with her.
Jessica’s husband, Ben Mulroney, at the time Canada’s top TV anchor and the son of former Canadian PM Brian Mulroney, was also there.
The book notes: ‘In Sydney to take on engagements and host the fourth Invictus Games, Harry and Meghan managed to sneak out for an evening off with Jessica and Ben Mulroney, the latter of whom was covering the Games for Canada’s CTV network. The couple had announced Meghan’s pregnancy on this tour.
‘A real-estate billionaire loaned them his home for an intimate and completely secret evening with a five-course meal prepared by a private chef.’
How much would this have cost? Surely at least £5,000 if they had paid themselves — but it sounds as though this was a freebie.
BABY SHOWER JAUNT: £50,000
Meghan famously hitched a ride back to London with pal Amal Clooney and her twins after Meghan’s lavish baby shower in New York in February 2019, as the authors confirm.
The flight home to the UK, had she paid for it, would have cost at least £50,000.
Her blowout at the Mark Hotel cost an estimated £328,000 all in, with the penthouse suite alone costing £57,000 a night. It was a gift from the friends who attended, including tennis champion Serena Williams.
Biography reveals couple borrowed jet from Elton John (pictured left with husband David Furnish) to fly from Ibiza to France
ELTON LENDS A PLANE: £6,000
The book confirms that they took Elton’s private plane from Ibiza, where Harry, Meghan and Archie had been holidaying, to his home in Nice, France, in the summer of 2019.
This would cost about £6,000 if paid for privately. The matter raised a storm of controversy, particularly as Harry launched his ‘eco’ travel initiative Travalyst soon afterwards. The authors say he regretted ignoring the advice of Press supremo Sara Latham, who had warned Harry that the apparent hypocrisy would not play well.
Sir Elton (below) loyally raged about ‘spurious’ criticism and said that he had paid to carbon offset the impact of the trip.
ELITE ECO SUMMIT VISIT: £11,388
Prince Harry’s trip to address the ‘global elite’ at the Camp Google eco summit in August 2019 was controversial.
The summit brought together celebrities and the very wealthy at a hotel in Sicily and is said to have cost the tech giant $20 million. It burnished the company’s image, badly hit by revelations about anti-competitive behaviour, tax avoidance and a #MeToo scandal.
The Prince, barefoot, spoke passionately about the environment. It was thought he flew in and out by rented private jet and used a helicopter to get to the Verdura resort.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were pictured volunteering with Baby2Baby at Dr Owen Lloyd Knox Elementary School in Los Angeles earlier this week
However, the book says he flew one way by private jet — and the whole affair was entirely gratis.
‘The tech giant footed the bill for everything, including travel to the resort and back. Harry’s original plans were to fly commercial, there and back on the same day, but while at the event he accepted a lift back to London on an attendee’s private jet so he could stay a day longer and discuss his work on a sustainable tourism initiative.’
Two nights at the resort cost from £466 a night plus a one-way flight to Palermo, business class £456, plus a private jet from Palermo to London, around £10,000.
HOUSE GIFT FROM GRANNY: £3.25M
Authors Scobie and Durand describe Frogmore Cottage as a ‘gift from the Queen’ to the couple and trill that she loves to give homes to her grandchildren. ‘It’s her thing!’ says their source.
The Sussexes moved into the historic Grade II-listed house, which is part of the Home Park in Windsor, in 2019 after infamously spending £2.4 million of taxpayers money to upgrade and improve it.
Of course, it could never be sold — but how much would something like it cost? A ten-bedroom house on Crown land in Windsor recently sold for £3.25 million.
The property where Price Harry and Megan Markle were believed to be staying on Vancouver island in British Columbia
A ‘CHEAP’ RATE IN CANADA: £37,500
Harry and Meghan stayed at the £10.7 million Mille Fleurs house in Vancouver from November 2019 until March 2020. The book reveals the house was secured for them by Ben Mulroney via his pal, music producer David Foster, whose friend owns the house.
It is noted that the Sussexes stayed there for a rent which was ‘well below market value.’
Had they paid full whack, they might have expected to fork out as much as £15,000 a month, or a total of £75,000.
It’s possible that they had to pay only half this sum.
According to the book, in their four years together, the couple may have enjoyed freebies that amount to a figure approaching £3.5 million.