Meghan, Harry and the year that wasn’t

Yet despite its commendable loyalty, the local newspaper does not appear to get everything right. Despite exclusively revealing last September that Harry ‘has been honing his mallet skills “stick and balling” at the Santa Barbara Polo Club,’ an employee of the club confirmed he has never played there – although he has apparently been spotted running through the polo fields .

He has, however, introduced Archie, two, to the sport beloved of his great-grandmother, the Queen, according to Richard Mineards, who writes about social events. As I reported last August: “’My niece just gave Archie his first riding lesson,’ a friend of mine whispered to me at my birthday party in July. ‘She was thrilled but she wo n’t give any of the details’. We both knew the elegant private stables where her daughter is the riding master. But we won’t tell where it is.”

Around the same time, Mineards also reported in Georgetowner, a small Washington DC area paper, that the media frenzy surrounding the couple’s arrival in the exclusive ‘celebrity enclave’ had died down, adding: ‘The sightings are rare. Harry is seen occasionally driving through the village in his Range Rover and walking his dog on the beach. But Meghan is rarely seen. Many in Montecito are disappointed they haven’t been more involved in the community – though that may be because of the pandemic.’

Speaking to The Telegraph, he revealed that when the Oscar Meyer wienermobile, a giant yellow and orange car hot dog-shaped car, was in Montecito, ‘Harry spied it, approached it and requested that he drive it and he did.’ Mineards chuckles: “Harry must’ve wanted to be a HOT dog!”

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Yet contrary to the suggestion they have not been very community-minded, they joined The Montecito Association as soon as they arrived, although they are not on the board and it is understood that they do not attend meetings.

According to former board member Kathy King: “They’ve sponsored a few events and been supportive of Montecito Association events like the holiday parades.”

Confirming they had joined the nonprofit community association, its executive director Sharon Byrne adds: “They showed up at the July 4 parade in 2021. They waved at everyone and were very casual, just like everyone else.”

One neighbor who has lived near the Sussexes’ property for decades has never seen them: “I’ve only ever seen their security; no sightings of them on their road at all. I used to walk that mile every night.”

Another local adds: “They live quietly and privately.”

An insider revealed that the couple were spending “thousands” on security, with bodyguards patrolling the property 24/7 in golf carts.

The couple do venture out occasionally, though. Harry has been seen buying groceries in town several times while December saw Meghan photographed carrying bags from Pierre la Fond, a local upscale delicatessen and bakery. She has also been snapped browsing at the Montecito Country Mart, an upmarket shopping mall.

A resident who frequents the deli tells me: “Robert Mitchum used to go there. Everyone goes or went there, Oprah, Julia Child, and Steve Martin too. But I’ve never seen the Sussexes there. Perhaps it’s different because of the pandemic.”

It is said the family has been spotted riding bikes on the Santa Barbara boardwalk, and last March they posted video footage of Archie playing on the beach. They are also thought to have dined at Lucky’s Steakhouse, a restaurant popular with locals and area celebrities, where a 12oz filet mignon will set you back $95 (£71).

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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