Inside Nottingham “Cottage” Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Homes?
It’s a busy time for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The couple, who will celebrate their first wedding anniversary in May, are about to become parents for the first time. The royal baby is due in a matter of weeks, but before then the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have a house move in the cards.
They’re moving from Nottingham Cottage, which is on the grounds of Kensington Palace, to Frogmore Cottage, on the Queen’s Windsor estate. But that won’t be their only home. Here’s what we know about Harry and Markle’s homes — including a few rumored abodes that didn’t make the cut.
Goodbye, Bachelor Pad
When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle first started dating in 2016 (Harry confirmed the relationship on Nov. 8, 2016, when he made an official statement asking the media to stop harassing Markle and her mother), Harry lived in his London “bachelor pad,” Nottingham Cottage, one of several apartments on the grounds of Kensington Palace. Meanwhile, Markle lived in Toronto, where she was filming “Suits.” While they were dating, Markle often visited Harry at Nottingham Cottage, and after they got engaged, she moved in. In fact, it was in Nottingham Cottage that Harry popped the question — while the couple was “trying to roast a chicken.”
Nottingham Cottage, First Marital Home
Nottingham Cottage, known as “Nott Cott” by royal insiders, is one of the smaller apartments within the grounds of Kensington Palace, but it’s possible that the royal definition of “small” is quite different than most people’s.
No images are available of the current interior of the cottage, Harry and Markle’s first marital home, but it’s believed to have two bedrooms, two reception rooms, a bathroom and a small garden. One of Markle’s friends revealed that it is “cozy” and that when she visited, Markle had prepared the guest bedroom with “a candle lit by the bed, slippers and a robe.”
Costly Renovations At Kensington Palace
Extensive renovations to Kensington Palace, including the refurbishment of the statue of Queen Victoria, which was designed by her daughter Princess Louise, were completed in 2012. The King and Queen’s state apartments were also renovated, and a display of dresses worn by Diana, Princess of Wales was created. In 2014, Apartment 1A was renovated for Prince William and Kate Middleton at an estimated cost of $5.3 million. The Daily Mail reported in 2018 that Apartment 1 was being renovated for Harry and Markle to move into, which would make them William and Middleton’s neighbors. However, Harry and Markle decided not to move into Apartment 1 and remained in Nottingham Cottage for the time being.
Designed By A Knight
Nottingham Cottage reportedly boasts impressive reception rooms designed by Sir Christopher Wren, one of Britain’s most highly acclaimed architects. Wren, who was knighted in 1673 and died in 1723, designed 53 London churches, including St. Paul’s Cathedral, as well as many other notable buildings, such as Royal Observatory Greenwich, London’s Temple Bar, the Sheldonian Theatre and the monument to the Great Fire of London. Wren also designed Kensington Palace, which has been owned by the royal family for more than 300 years.
A Home Full Of Flowers
We can only speculate about how Harry and Markle have decorated their cottage. Based on Markle’s now-defunct Instagram account, we know she’s a fan of comfortable spaces with lots of candles and flowers. On July 1, 2017, Markle posted a picture of an enormous bouquet of white and pink peonies on Instagram with the caption, “Swooning over these. #London #peonies #spoiledrotten.”
A few months later, the world knew the identity of Markle’s secret suitor, and on May 19, 2018, the couple included peonies in the stunning flower arrangements at their St. George’s Chapel wedding.
Rich Royal History
Past royal residents of Kensington Palace include Queen Victoria, who spent her childhood there, and Princess Louise, Victoria’s sculptor daughter. In more recent times, Diana, Princess of Wales, lived in Kensington Palace apartments with William and Harry following her separation from Prince Charles. The location is believed to hold precious memories for both princes, so it’s perhaps no surprise that Prince William and Kate Middleton chose it for their first marital home. They currently live there with their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
Escape To The Country
Harry and Markle also have a country bolthole to escape to when they need a break from London life. They have a two-year lease on a $3.3 million property called Beaconsfield Farm, on the Great Tew Estate near the Cotswold village of Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. The Grade II-listed (listed buildings have historical relevance) renovated farmhouse is reported to have four bedrooms, a two-bedroom “outhouse” and a separate cottage for staff. The couple reportedly spent most of their time at Beaconsfield Farm while their new home was being renovated for the arrival of their first child.
The Cotswolds was declared an area of outstanding natural beauty, or AONB, in 1966 and is the largest of 46 AONBs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It’s also the second-largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District National Park. The Cotswolds stretches for 790 square miles from Bath and Wiltshire in the south through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire to Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north. The perfect home away from home, this area gives the royal couple plenty of opportunities to let their beloved dogs roam free.
Chipping Norton, A Quintessential English Village
Chipping Norton, known by locals as “Chippy,” is a civil parish and the highest town in Oxfordshire. Located on the western slopes of a hillside that was once the site of a Norman castle, it’s an area steeped in history. Just outside the town is one of its most famous landmarks, Bliss Tweed Mill, a late 19th-century factory designed by George Woodhouse with an unusual dome-based chimney. The Cotswolds is filled with beautiful old buildings, such as the Old Bell Hotel near Malmesbury Abbey in the town of Malmesbury.
A Stone’s Throw From Soho Farmhouse
The Great Tew Estate is close to one of Markle’s favorite hotels, Soho Farmhouse. This is where she reportedly spent her bridal shower (organized by her close friend Markus Anderson, a consultant at Soho House Group) ahead of her wedding to Harry. The main farmhouse sleeps 14 adults and costs 6,000 pounds, or nearly $8,000 a night. There’s also a luxury spa on the grounds, but it’s not known whether Markle and her guests enjoyed any treatments, or if they took part in cooking classes at the Cookhouse using seasonal produce grown in the Farmhouse Kitchen Garden. One thing we do know is that it seems to be a beautiful location in any season, as one of their recent Instagram posts shows:
Room For The Clooneys
The Sussexes have used their Cotswolds home to entertain A-list guests such as George and Amal Clooney, who attended their wedding in May 2018, hosted the newlyweds at their Lake Como retreat shortly afterward and are believed to be named godparents to the royal baby. Amal recently attended Markle’s baby shower at The Mark hotel in New York and reportedly paid for the duchess’s transport to and from the event — a $43 million private jet, no less. The Clooneys are parents to 1-year-old twins Alexander and Ella, who will no doubt be playmates for the new royal baby.
VIP Guests Welcome
Other guests who have reportedly stayed at Harry and Markle’s Cotswolds retreat include Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas, and Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland. In 2017, Markle described her yoga instructor mother as a “free spirit,” saying, “We can just have so much fun together, and yet, I’ll still find so much solace in her support. That duality coexists the same way it would in a best friend.” Ragland was very involved with the royal wedding planning process and is sure to be a hands-on grandparent.
Preparing For Baby
Life has changed for Harry and Markle since they got married in May 2018. They are now expecting their first child, so it comes as no surprise that their new home is an arguably more family-friendly choice — Frogmore Cottage, which is on the grounds of the Queen’s Windsor estate. The official word from Kensington Palace is that the royal baby is due in the spring of 2019, but in January, during a visit to Birkenhead, Markle reportedly told members of the public that she was expecting to give birth at the end of March or the beginning of April.
Frogmore Cottage is in the grounds of the Queen’s Windsor Estate, near Windsor Castle. The Grade-II listed cottage, which was built in 1801 at the direction of Queen Charlotte, is situated in front of the 17th-century country house Frogmore House. Harry and Markle’s new home was until recently a series of five separate units housing Windsor estate workers but has undergone major renovations (overseen by Markle) over the past few months to turn it back into a single unit. Apparently, the revamped cottage will include a gym and, of course, a nursery.
Party And Wedding Venue
Initially a retreat for Queen Charlotte and her unmarried daughters, Frogmore Cottage was home to theologian Henry James Sr. in the 1840s and Victoria’s personal Indian servant, Abdul Karim, in the late 1890s. In the 1920s, it housed Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna during her exile from her native Russia. Frogmore House, which is a Grade-I listed building, is not occupied at the moment but is used by several members of the royal family for both private and official events. In 2008, Frogmore was the venue for the wedding reception of the Queen’s grandson Peter Phillips to Autumn Kelly.
Housewarming Gifts Of Art
Harry and Markle both like to collect art; Harry gifted his wife with “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” by British artist Van Donna while they were dating. To help decorate Frogmore, the Queen has reportedly offered the couple a range of paintings from her own personal collection. That’s quite a housewarming gift; the Queen has one of the largest collections of works of art in the world (though it’s not held personally by the Queen, but held in trust by the Queen as a sovereign, for the nation and the Queen’s successors).
A-List Interior Design
According to reports, Harry and Meghan have enlisted the help of Soho House interior designer Vicky Charles, who designed many of the private member’s clubs around the world, to help them decorate their new home. Besides Markle’s love for Soho Farmhouse, the couple was spotted in Soho House London and Soho House Toronto in the first few months of their relationship. Markle loves to cook, so perhaps Frogmore Cottage’s kitchen will be modeled on the pantry bar and kitchen of Soho House Toronto? Here’s a photo the club posted of the pantry bar on Facebook:
Frogmore House was the setting for Harry and Markle’s official engagement pictures, which were taken by world-famous photographer Alexi Lubormirski. Lubormirski said when he first went to meet with the couple they were “cutesy” and giggled every time they looked at each other, which made his job easier. He also said that the couple seemed “naturally in love” and that former actress and model Markle used her previous experience in front of the camera to “coach” her husband-to-be through the shoot.
Windsor is a special place for Harry and Markle for many reasons, primarily because it’s the home of St. George’s Chapel, where they got married in May 2018. In November, an official statement from Kensington Palace announcing their move said, “Windsor is a very special place for their royal highnesses and they are grateful that their official residence will be on the estate.” The Palace also confirmed that “the Duke and Duchess’s office will continue to be based at Kensington Palace.”
The Sussexes’ wedding reception was even closer to their new home than their wedding was; Frogmore House was the venue for their star-studded private reception. Markle changed into a bespoke Stella McCartney gown and satin heels by luxury Italian shoe label Aquazzura for the bash, which was hosted by Prince Charles. The newlyweds arrived at Frogmore in style — a silver-blue Jaguar E-Type driven by the groom. Around 200 close family and friends, including Oprah Winfrey, the Clooneys, Robbie Williams and Ayda Field, joined the couple to celebrate their marriage.
Windsor Castle, like all the royal properties, is always decorated with a huge Christmas tree. However, Harry and Markle are likely to spend their first Christmas as parents away from home. In 2018, for their first Christmas as a married couple, they spent Christmas Day with the queen at Sandringham. It’s traditional for most members of the immediate royal family, including Prince Charles, Camilla Parker Bowles, Prince William and Prince Harry, to be at Sandringham for Christmas and New Year. They spend Easter at Windsor Castle.
After they move to Frogmore Cottage, Harry and Markle’s official office will remain at Kensington Palace, meaning the couple will be making the 25-mile trip back to their former London home regularly for work. In 2019, after she returns from maternity leave, Markle’s royal duties will include work for her four royal patronages: the National Theatre, the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), animal charity Mayhew and Smart Works, an organization that helps unemployed and vulnerable women by giving them skills and confidence to succeed in job interviews.
Remembering Diana, Princess Of Wales
Another reason for Harry and Markle to visit Kensington Palace — besides playdates with Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis — is to spend time in the White Garden, which was created as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, who lived at Kensington Palace for 15 years. On Aug. 30, 2017, the day before the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry made an official visit to the White Garden, which was formerly known as the Sunken Garden.
Visiting William And Kate
Harry and Markle will undoubtedly spend time at Kensington Palace visiting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their three children. The Cambridges have lived in apartment 1A, a four-story, 20-room home, since 2013. Apartment 1A has five reception rooms, three main bedrooms, dressing rooms and bathrooms, a night and day nursery, staff bedrooms, large staff quarters and an extensive, walled-in garden. In 2016, the Cambridges hosted Barack and Michelle Obama at their Kensington home, where they were joined by Harry.
In 2017, shortly after Harry confirmed his relationship with Markle, rumors circulated that the couple was going to buy Luckington House, a multi-million dollar countryside manor located near Highgrove House, which is the current home of Prince Charles and Parker Bowles, and where William and Harry spent much of their childhood. The large, remote Luckington House, typical of houses in the area, is in the Cotswolds and is known for being used as the location of Longbourne in 1995 British TV series based on Jane Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice.”
Another report around the time of the royal wedding stated that the queen was planning to give Harry and Markle a country home called York Cottage on her Sandringham estate, where the couple spent Christmas Day 2018 with several members of the royal family, including Prince Charles, Parker Bowles, Prince William and Kate Middleton. William and Kate already have a home in the area, but a royal expert dismissed the claims that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have followed in their footsteps as “utter nonsense.”
Another home the queen was reported to be gifting Harry and Markle is the Grade II-listed Adelaide Cottage, which was built in 1831 as a retreat for King William IV’s wife, Queen Adelaide. This property is also in Windsor, close to the queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s private apartments and also the Guards Polo Club in Windsor Great Park, which Harry frequents. The Adelaide Cottage rumor hasn’t been confirmed by Kensington Palace, and clearly Frogmore Cottage was Harry and Markle’s top choice for their main residence.
Ready To Move
With the first baby shower over — it’s believed that Markle will have a second shower in the U.K. for family members, including her mom and sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge — and a recent trip to Morocco with Harry complete, Markle now has a short time to prepare for the move to Frogmore Cottage. The move will take place sometime in March, to give them at least a month to settle in before their baby is due. That gives them just enough time to ensure everything is ready for their new arrival!
Hospital On Standby
The Sussexes’ move to Frogmore means their baby will be born in a different hospital than their cousins George, Charlotte and Louis. The Cambridge children were born in the private Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in London, but Harry and Markle’s baby is likely to be born at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, which is closer to Windsor. It’s also where Harry’s Aunt Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, gave birth to her two children, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.