Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are facing heightened security concerns at their Montecito estate in California following a series of burglaries in their upscale neighborhood, Business Times has learned.
The couple, who made a surprise appearance at the "Bob Marley: One Love" movie premiere in Kingston, Jamaica, were alerted to the potential threat to their $14.65 million compound by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office. The warning highlighted a spate of recent burglaries targeting safes in unoccupied residences adjacent to open spaces, heightening fears for the royal couple's extensive collection of personal and historically significant valuables.
The Sussexes, who have resided in their 7.4-acre Montecito home since stepping back from royal duties four years ago, possess a trove of irreplaceable items, including pieces of Princess Diana's jewelry and other royal memorabilia.
"Harry has multiple pieces of Princess Diana's jewelry, some things from his late grandmother and more irreplaceable items," a source close to the couple revealed to Globe magazine. The transition from the unparalleled security of the royal palaces in England to the relative vulnerability of their California home has raised concerns about the protection of these valuable assets and sensitive information.
Despite employing a highly experienced security team, with veterans from the protection details of figures like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the late Michael Jackson, the couple's Montecito estate has previously been compromised. Police records indicate six security alert calls from the property within 14 months, including two intruder alerts.
One such incident occurred on the couple's wedding anniversary, coinciding with their visit to Britain for Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee. Another trespasser was apprehended on Christmas Eve, only to return two days later, underscoring the persistent risk despite the significant investment in security measures.
The recent burglaries in Montecito have prompted Prince Harry to consider further bolstering their security to ensure the safety of Meghan and their children, Archie and Lilibet. "Harry's focus has always been on keeping his wife and children safe," the source added, highlighting the dilemmas faced by high-profile individuals in safeguarding their families and sensitive possessions against sophisticated criminal threats.
As the Sussexes grapple with these security challenges, the situation underscores the broader issues of privacy and safety confronting public figures, especially those with valuable legacies to protect. The couple's ongoing efforts to maintain a secure and private life in the wake of their royal departure continue to be tested by the realities of their new environment.