Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have undeniably overtaken Prince William and Kate Middleton as the most-talked about British royal couple. Indeed, since getting married, the high-profile pair’s every move has been pored over by the global press. Their spending habits have perhaps raised the most eyebrows, and they added fuel to the fire in 2019 with an Ibiza vacation that redefined the word extravagant.
Of course, you wouldn’t expect the man sixth in line to the British throne to holiday in the kind of cheap and cheerful hotels favored by many White Isle visitors. Especially when the trip was to mark his wife’s 38th birthday. But even so, at a cost of $133,000, the villa that Harry shared with Megan and their son Archie for a six-day break inevitably attracted some criticism.
And it wasn’t just their plush surroundings that set the tabloids talking. Indeed, having become renowned for their environmental advocacy, the Windsors were accused of being hypocritical when it was revealed they took a private jet for their Ibizan trip. Here’s a look at the controversy that arose from their Balearic getaway and the stunning villa that will no doubt leave you green with envy.
Prince Harry and Megan Markle decided to visit Ibiza for a break with their son Archie in tow in August 2019. The getaway coincided with the princess’ 38th birthday celebrations and was also the first time overseas for their baby, who’d been born three months previously. Meghan had already vacationed on the White Isle three years earlier with pals such as fashion designer Misha Nonoo.
Not for the first time, the royal couple flew to their destination of choice on a private plane. Indeed, just a fortnight previously Harry had used the same mode of transport to travel to Sicily, where he’d warned of the devastating effects of global warming in a keynote speech. Inevitably, this led to accusations of hypocrisy.
In fact, when it comes to damage caused by carbon emissions, the average commercial plane journey is far more environmentally friendly than a chartered private jet. And in a startling analysis reported in The Times, it was revealed that in just 11 days the royals couple’s travels had created an astonishing 82 tons of CO2. To make the same impact as a motorist, the pair would have had to use 17 different vehicles for an entire year.
And if you thought that made for troubling reading, wait until you learn of their carbon emissions over a far lengthier period. According to the same report, Harry and Meghan had spent so much time flying on private planes in the previous couple of years that it would take approximately 1,400 trees to ameliorate – over a period of a decade, too.
And if Harry and Meghan thought they could make up for their carbon footprint with cold hard cash, they can think again. As the Aviation Environment Federation’s director Tim Johnson told The Times, “Paying to offset a ton of CO2 doesn’t make that CO2 go away… It will stay in the atmosphere for years.”
So is it a case of do as I say, not as I do? Well, the royal couple certainly seem to be keen on telling others how they can be more environmentally conscious. Shortly before their Ibizan trip, they spent an entire month increasing awareness of global warming on their Instagram account.
However, there is at least one area in which Harry and Meghan appear to be leading by example. Indeed, guest edited by Meghan, the September 2019 edition of British Vogue magazine saw Harry discuss his concerns about the environment. And in the interview, he stated that in order to reduce their human impact on the world, he and his wife planned on having no more than two kids.
One of the couple’s most high-profile friends also leapt to their defense over the claims of hypocrisy. Sir Elton John had actually lent Meghan and Harry the holiday home in Nice he shares with partner David Furnish to the royals for their second August break. And he quickly took to Instagram to explain why Harry and Meghan couldn’t fly commercial.
The music legend stated, “After a hectic year continuing their hard work and dedication to charity, David and I wanted the young family to have a private holiday inside the safety and tranquility of our home. To maintain a high level of much-needed protection, we provided them with a private jet flight.”
“I highly respect and applaud both Harry and Meghan’s commitment to charity,” the Rocket Man continued. “And I’m calling on the press to cease these relentless and untrue assassinations on their character that are spuriously crafted on an almost daily basis.” Moreover, Sir Elton wasn’t the only high-profile name who stuck their head above the parapet for the couple.
Chart-topping singer Pink tweeted, “I’m happy to see people coming to the defense of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The way people treat her is the most public form of bullying I have seen in a while. It’s out of control. Let’s all be a bit kinder, huh? Let’s show our children that it’s cool to be kind.”
Ellen DeGeneres also took to the same social media platform to defend the royal couple. The popular daytime chat show host told her many followers, “Portia and I met Prince Harry and Meghan in England to talk about their work on wildlife conservation. They were the most down-to-earth, compassionate people.”
Of course, Harry and Meghan aren’t the only royals to favor the private jet. In fact, in the same month that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex headed to Ibiza and Nice, the Duke of York was seen taking a chartered plane from Balmoral, Scotland. And the rest of the family routinely choose private jets for official engagements abroad as well as their vacations, which largely take place in August.
Richard Fitzwilliams, an expert on the British Royal Family, told the Daily Express, “The problem is that on their holidays Harry and Meghan will take Archie and want privacy. The only way you get that is going by chartered flights. There would be press greeting them as well as intrusive activity on the aircraft, which would be unacceptable. On this, they can’t win.”
Moreover, it isn’t just Harry and Meghan’s carbon footprint that has come under scrutiny. The latter’s spending habits, in particular, have also been the source of constant speculation by the media. For example, during a trip to Morocco with her husband in February 2019, Meghan reportedly spent a whopping $150,000, while her collection of maternity clothes allegedly set the couple back more than half a million dollars.
That’s not all. Meghan’s baby shower in the Big Apple reportedly cost around $400,000. And while refurbishing their official Windsor residence, Frogmore Cottage, she and Harry spent an incredible $3 million of British taxpayers’ money. Jennie Bond, a long-time royal correspondent, believes that the Duchess has to be careful when it comes to splashing the cash.
In a June 2019 interview with Yahoo’s Royal Box, Bond said, “I am getting the feeling that the public don’t like her terrifically spending huge quantities of money. Being extravagant, massively extravagant, she can afford it, she is a wealthy woman. But it doesn’t play very well, so I think she needs to just watch that.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Angela Levin, who in 2018 published a biography of Prince Harry. “I think Meghan on occasion has been extravagant, which has not gone down well,” Levin told Conservative Women in June 2019. “The Queen is known to be frugal, and some members of the British public have balked at a proportion of their tax going towards what they consider to be frivolity.”
Levin did applaud Meghan for how she’s adapted to the royal way of life so effortlessly, however. “I think she’s done brilliantly at some things. She’s marvelous when they are out and about,” Levin told Fox News. “She’s very good at talking to people. It’s an awful lot to learn, and she’s very energetic and keen.”
Nonetheless, Levin believes that Meghan would benefit if she was a little more open to outside help. “Before in her life, she was very used to making her own decisions,” Levin added. “I do think it’s very difficult for her. This is a very strict, traditional path. It takes a while to get used to it.”
To be fair to Meghan and Harry, the pair do appear to have taken some of the criticism on board. After returning from their August vacations, for instance, the couple and their son Archie headed for the Rose & Crown, a humble country pub in Berkshire. And there they enjoyed a lunch that cost just $20.
A fellow customer told the Daily Express, “The staff clearly knew who they were but kept the service low-key. They just chatted away like any normal couple and were laughing a lot. After the controversy they have been attracting they were getting their feet back on the ground with pub grub like millions of ordinary folk, and it was nice to see.”
Of course, this display of humility did occur in the same month that the pair enjoyed a vacation at what’s been described as a “billionaire’s playground.” Indeed, along with their son Archie, Harry and Meghan spent six days at Vista Alegre, a luxurious and gated community on the Balearic island of Ibiza. And as you’d expect, it didn’t come cheap.
In fact, the royal couple’s hillside villa reportedly costs $133,000 per week to hire out. But it seems fair to say that they certainly got plenty for their money. Most notably, there’s the stunning view, with the secluded property sitting beside the picturesque Porroig bay.
According to the Isle Blue villa rental website, the community itself is “one of the most sought after urbanizations on the island of Ibiza.” It’s also “perfectly positioned, close to the beaches of Cala Jondal, Es Torrent and Es Cubells.” Visitors may enjoy “the breathtaking beach where you can swim in the gorgeous azure ocean, jet ski on the top of the rolling waves and scuba dive deep down into the depths of the wondrous sea.”
The royals chose to stay at Sa Calma, a villa featuring no fewer than seven bedrooms. Indeed, the pair were certainly prepared for the possibility of any surprise guests turning up unannounced. The property also boasts a lavish dining room that can sit more than a dozen people.
And should Meghan or Harry have fancied a holiday workout, they had plenty of options to choose from. They could have enjoyed a refreshing morning swim in the 50-meter outdoor infinity pool that faces the sea, for example. Or they might have got the heart rate going a little faster by hitting the state-of-the art home gym.
Of course, it’s more than likely that the royals chose the villa simply as a base to relax. And they weren’t exactly short of space to do so. The property comes equipped with a large terrace area complete with another grand seating section. As well as taking a dip in the pool, Meghan and Harry could also enjoy a soak in the Jacuzzi.
One of the villa’s most awe-inspiring sights is the lounge, a room with a high ceiling that makes guests feel they’re at one with nature. Indeed, large sliding doors made of glass open up the space entirely, blurring the boundaries between the interior and exterior. And like the majority of rooms in the villa, it also faces the sea.
Let’s just hope that Harry and Meghan are fans of wooden furnishings. From its tables and chairs to its terrace roof and staircases, the property is dominated by wooden fixtures and fittings. In fact, there’s even a giant piece of wooden art that sits on the vast lawn area overlooking the sea.
As for the seven bedrooms on offer, four of them are found on the ground floor. But it seems reasonable to assume that the couple would probably have chosen the master bedroom located alongside two guest suites on the upper floor. Each and every sleeping quarter comes equipped with an en-suite bathroom, safety box, television and wardrobe.
It seems unlikely that Harry and Meghan would have done much cooking on their vacation, of course. But should they have wanted to whip up a light snack, then they could have done so in style. Indeed, the villa features a stunning designer kitchen complete with all the mod cons you could ever wish for.
Unsurprisingly, the couple are reported to have brought their very own chef along with them to cater for their every culinary need. And this particularly royal employee could also benefit from the villa’s high-end design. That’s because in addition to the everyday guest kitchen, the property also includes a professional one to ensure that guests continue to receive the five-star treatment at mealtimes.
Even if you don’t happen to have your very own staff, though, help is still at hand. Guests at Sa Calma can also benefit from a range of services including a housekeeper, house manager, waitress and even a live-in caretaker. The villa offers visitors their very own chauffeur and security guard, too.
And that’s not all, either. Harry and Meghan could also request the services of a nanny if they wanted to enjoy some alone time. A personal trainer, masseur and yoga instructor could help with their physical well-being, too. In addition, they would have been given the option to hire their own butler, beautician and bartender.
Sa Calma’s official website reveals the thinking behind the house’s immaculate design. It states that the villa is intended to “maximize comfort and create an easy-going lifestyle throughout the property in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere as well as reach luxury standards in a sophisticated and discreet fashion. Ultimate beauty and harmony were pursued while respecting the limitations of the surrounding nature, fusing local Ibizan architecture with avant-garde elements.”
So, who actually owns this piece of Ibizan paradise? Well, the property is reportedly run by Art Invest Studio, a company with just one director: Maria Isabel Esparcia Pedraza. Its actual proprietor, however, is said to be property developer Fernando Corominas. But the man in question declined to comment when asked about his royal guests.