Celia Walden: 'Meghan should cut and run to LA home'
On the day Meghan and Harry got married, how many of us made bets whether it would last and, if so, how long?
Will she be pregnant within six months, and will there be one, two or three babies?
My bet, however, was on how long it would take the royal couple to move to California.
After a decade spent dividing my time between London and Los Angeles, I was convinced it would take less than two years for the actress-turned-duchess to grow sick of the inevitable venom, so I had been anticipating the recent headline: “Homesick Meghan Goes House Hunting in LA.”
After nearly 18 months of married life, and with her first choice of home, Windsor Castle, denied, Meghan still hasn’t slotted into the role the palace had defined for her from the moment she posted a picture of two bananas spooning on Instagram, which confirmed things were serious.
Square pegs and round holes were always going to be an issue for a woman who refuses to have her edges filed down to fit; a TV star who didn’t come this far to wear high-street clothing, no matter what the PR Svengalis urge (she reportedly had the most expensive wardrobe of any royal last year); a forward-thinker whose impulses (to re-write chunks of her Suits scripts) had always paid off in Hollywood.
However, whereas scrawling inspirational messages on bananas (again) for sex workers gets you anointed humanitarian of the year by US Weekly, in the UK it only gets you mass derision.
No wonder Markle was caught on camera two months ago harrumphing to pop star Pharrell Williams: “They don’t make it easy.”
They don’t, but if there’s one thing LA does better than anywhere else on Earth, it’s making things easy. Everything from dentistry to celebrity and hypocrisy is facilitated in the place actress Emily Mortimer once called “a beauty parlour at the end of the universe”.
Malibu, where Meghan and Harry have been looking for that bolthole, is a celebrity enclave within the biggest celebrity enclave on the planet. A little slice of A-list-stuffed heaven, it’s a place with a sufficiently limited grasp of royal terminology to welcome “homesick” Markle back as a princess. It could be her very own principality.
The privacy afforded stars in LA is one of the city’s biggest draws. Many celebrities with families live their lives day-to-day without making a big deal of their fame. It’s true that an invisible forcefield surrounds the stars out there, repelling any intrusion or negativity.
I’ve watched Anne Hathaway wait in line in a supermarket without being given a second glance, and seen Meryl Streep wander in and out of Chateau Marmont unnoticed.
I’ve listened to a top action star brag about his ferocious heterosexuality, only to find myself seated at a neighbouring restaurant table that very night as he, his boyfriend and their miniature schnauzer enjoyed a candlelit supper.
I’ve witnessed a famous married TV star carouse his way through the city, and heard an LA neighbour recount how brazenly a still-more famous, married sportsman “uses my SoulCycle class as a pick-up joint”, both safe in the knowledge that the city protects its famous own.
For that reason, hypocrisy – endemic in Hollywood – isn’t just tolerated but expected. Only in La-La Land can a celebrity spokeswoman for natural ageing look like a human blowfish, such has been her penchant for hardcore injectables for the past two decades.
Only there can an actress fly her CO2-spewing private jet from the ecological award ceremony, where she will tearfully accept her lifetime achievement award (with the battle cry “This is for Mother Nature!”) to the animal welfare rally she spearheaded, barely having taken the time to set down her endangered species-skin handbag.
These people have meditated and green-juiced their way out of the cynicism we’re so proud of. Their love of celebrities, like the love a child has for its parents, is unconditional.
Although the royal couple’s imminent LA adventure will be described as temporary to start with, it’s not hard to imagine how the seagulls soaring over Malibu’s Ocean Front Cottage might hold more appeal than the 28-planes-an-hour over Frogmore cottage.
When it emerged that Markle reportedly asked for air fresheners for St George’s Chapel before the wedding because she didn’t “like its musty smell”, somebody should have explained that the musty smell is royalty.
LA has been described as “mostly full of nonsense, delusion and egomania – they think they’ll be young and beautiful for ever”.
Meghan and Harry are young and beautiful now, so perhaps it's better they revel in the nonsense, delusion and egomania of that city while they can.