Since Meghan Markle joined the royal family, many Angelenos have felt they have an old friend roaming the halls of Buckingham Palace.
After all, Markle grew up in Leimert Park, attended Immaculate Heart High, an all-girls school in the Hollywood Hills, and worked her way up the Hollywood acting ladder, becoming a regular on the TV show “Suits.”
So when she and Prince Harry announced they were stepping back from royal duties and moving part time to North America, they got mostly cheers from L.A. residents.
“I think they have better things to do than to do the royal [stuff]. They want to lay low and raise a family. This was definitely Meghan’s power move. She wears the ‘princess pants’ in the relationship,” said Diego Valdivia, 31, of Venice.
“I think this has nothing to do with the people that are criticizing them. It’s a bold move,” Valdivia said, adding that it definitely has angered a number of people, “but this is what they wanted to do. Good on them. … I mean, come on, we’re in 2020 and are talking about royals. Are we in ‘Game of Thrones’?”
Helen Dawson, who grew up in England and works in Santa Monica, also supported the duke and duchess’ decision.
“I think there’s been some controversy in the way that it was done. I think it’s good for Harry and Meghan’s future and to think about their family, especially with what happened with Harry’s mom, Princess Diana. I think they’re thinking of protecting their family,” she said. “I think what people were upset about is that they publicly cut their ties without discussing it with the queen first.”
Markle’s independent spirit and decidedly unroyal backstory have long captivated fans.
She has discussed her life growing up in Los Angeles, the daughter of an African American social worker and a white Hollywood television cinematographer.
In a 2015 essay for Elle magazine, she wrote that people would assume her mother was the nanny because of the color of her skin. She said people often were curious about her racial background and asked where her parents were from.
“While I could say Pennsylvania and Ohio, and continue this proverbial two-step, I instead give them what they’re after: ‘My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African American. I’m half-black and half-white,’ ” she wrote.
Dawson and others think Markle may find more adoration and support on this side of the Atlantic.
“I think Meghan’s been more popular here than in the last few months back in England. I think it’d be good if they can find their niche here,” the British expat said.
“I was a bit shocked because they are not that popular in the U.K. at the minute, even for people who love the royal family, because they went to Canada and they were away from the queen during Christmas,” said Finlay Rowden, 23, a resident of Hertfordshire, England, visiting a friend in Hollywood.
“There was a general feeling, even before the news, that they were taking the money and not doing their duties. They definitely wanted to get away from the British press. I wasn’t surprised, but it’s ridiculous to me that they are being paid so much money and their duty is to take the press because they’re the royal family and that’s part of the job.”
But building a life in L.A., should the couple choose to do so, wouldn’t be simple, others warned.
“I’m interested to see how they’re going to support themselves and what kind of life they would be able to have,” said Anita Rogers, chief executive and founder of British American Household Staffing, which connects local families with British nannies and other domestic workers. “I don’t think the queen would allow a royal son or daughter to not have the best of the best when it came to education and child care.”
The city’s hundreds-strong paparazzi corps would also pose a problem.
“I remember before the wedding it was a big deal, like a Cinderella story, and I think there will be a new wave of that,” said Uri Gal of Professional Security Consultants, a private security company based in L.A. “It will be an issue regardless of where they live — how are we going to live a normal life without being harassed all the time?”
Still, he said, Los Angeles, with its scores of A-list celebrities, could be easier on the royal family members than England, where their fame is singular.
“You have the same thing in the U.K., but when you’re over there it’s another level,” he said. “They’re big stars over here, but over there it’s almost like a cult.”
Though some in SoCal would love for Markle and her husband to spend more time here, not everyone thinks it’s a good idea.
“If they came to California,” Dawson warned, “the paparazzi would be following them everywhere.”