Meghan and Harry's ‘£11m ‘forever home’ could reach £3m a year in sky-high running costs, expert warns

THE annual running costs of Prince Harry and Meghan's palatial “forever home” in Santa Barbara could cost as much as £3million, experts warn.

This week, it emerged the royal couple had purchased a sprawling nine-bedroom mansion in upscale Montecito, California.

It is believed the pair, who sensationally quit the UK and official palace duties last year, took out a £7.25m mortgage to buy the 14,563-square-foot property.

But that expenditure is just the start, as huge homes in California come with eye-watering bills for staff, utilities and taxes.

First, it is estimated that they would have to pay £30,000-a-month, or £360,000-a-year, to pay back their mortgage over 30 years, at typical Bank of America interest rates.

And annual property tax in the wealthy area of the US is estimated to be £52,000, according to finance tech firm SmartAsset.

This calculation is based on the £11m price tag of the home and its upmarket location in Santa Barbara.

And big homes in California usually require a staff to maintain the huge gardens as well as the multiple bedrooms and bathrooms.

Christopher Baker, a supplier domestic staff in the state, told the Hollywood Reporter that a staff for A-list celebs can cost around £230,000 per year – although that figure can increase depending on the star's lifestyle.

Utility bills for a home the size of the royal couple's would be at least £2,300 a month, Business Insider reports.

Justin Rubinstein of real estate firm Compass told the news outlet that maintaining the garden at a palatial home could “easily eclipse” £76,000.

He said: “Landscaping is always important because who wants to spend $10million on a house and have an unappealing facade or front yard?”

Mr Rubinstein also says mansion owners should set aside cash for emergencies because “eventually, there will be a flood, or an electrical issue, or a roof repair.”

He said: “Whether you save money each month for that, or you just risk it and wait for something to happen, it's definitely an invisible cost.”

Jennifer Leahy, of real estate firm Douglas Elliman, says large homes can have maintenance costs of around £8,000-a-month.

But the biggest expenditure that Harry and Meghan have is security after they reportedly hired elite company GDBS to protect them while living in LA.

The firm, described as the “secret service for famous people”, costs around £7,000-a-day meaning it would leave the Sussexes with a £2.5million bill.

GDBA is owned by Gavin de Becker, a national security expert and ex-presidential aide who was hired by the world's richest man Jeff Bezos as an investigator.

The Sussexes also have to pay back the UK taxpayer £18,000-a-month for the £2.4million spent renovating their former home Frogmore Cottage, near Windsor Castle.

The co-author of Finding Freedom – an unofficial biography which lifts the lid on the Sussexes' decision to quit the royal family – Omid Scobie told ET that the couple have found their "forever home".

He also dismissed reports saying Prince Charles had helped them with the purchase, saying: "Finding a house in the middle of a pandemic is difficult, but they were able to find a peaceful home in Santa Barbara.

"A home that they have bought with their own money.

"There's been a lot of speculation about Prince Charles potentially funding this.

"But this is really a moment for them to find their independence. They've done this on their own."

Records show that the couple bought the mansion from a Russian oligarch who previously owned the “Scarface estate”.

The Sussexes bought the home from a limited liability company partly owned by Russian tycoon Sergey Grishin.

Grishin is no stranger to big real estate deals in Montecito after he owned the sprawling mansion made famous by the 1983 gangster movie Scarface.

He sold that iconic property, which in the past hosted the likes of Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein, for £9.3million in 2015.

Harry and Meghan's "palatial" pad, known as "The Chateau", was bought by Grishin in 2009 for £19million.

But he has struggled to find wealthy buyers able to meet the asking price.

It was eventually listed again in January, for around £13m and sold to the royal couple for around £2m under that asking price.

According to real estate agents who spoke with the LA Times, the deal was closed in an “off-market” sale in June.

Tax records for the mansion match the limited liability companies previously created by Meghan, it has been reported.

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