Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's £2.5m secret home they had to give up

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend a reception for friends and family of competitors of the Invictus Games (Getty)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's eight-year relationship has seen them explore a wide property portfolio. They started residing together at Harry's bachelor pad at Nottingham Cottage before moving into their marital home at Frogmore Cottage, temporarily staying at Tyler Perry's home in LA and finally purchasing their Montecito mansion, where they now reside with their two children Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.

One home that is rarely discussed is Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's pre-wedding country property. Shortly before they walked down the aisle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle in May 2018, the pair signed a two-year lease on a secluded bolthole in the Cotswolds where they intended to live while Frogmore Cottage was being renovated.

Prince Harry smiles at his new wife the Duchess of Sussex on the steps of St George's Chapel
Queen Elizabeth II gifted Harry and Meghan Frogmore Cottage for their wedding (Getty)

However, their stay was short-lived, and they were forced to flee the home after the press discovered their location. Here's everything we know about the property they "loved"...

The 18th-century Grade II-listed house, estimated to be worth £2.5 million in 2018, was made out of pretty Cotswold stone and featured four bedrooms – one of which had reportedly been converted into a dressing room.

Prince Harry in suit walking with Meghan in ivory caped dress
The couple moved to the Cotswolds while renovations were taking place at their Windsor home, which was their son Prince Archie's first house (Getty)

The Sun revealed that the converted barn extension was a self-contained area with a kitchen, a dining room, and a sitting area with floor-to-ceiling windows that soak up the views of the four acres of private land and the outdoor seating area with patio heaters. There was also a separate two-bedroom cottage for staff.

The Sussexes are said to have been very happy at the Cotswolds property, which offered them plenty of privacy to entertain their famous friends and ample outdoor space to walk their dogs.

Famous neighbours

Doria Ragland now lives near the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in the California
Doria Ragland is said to have visited the couple at their Cotswolds home (Kevin Mazur)

During their stay, the couple is thought to have welcomed Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, to the property, as well as their friends George and Amal Clooney and Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian.

Brooklyn, Cruz, David, Victoria, Romeo and Harper Beckham posing in the Cotswolds
Victoria and David Beckham's country home is also on the Great Tew Estate (Instagram)

They were not the only ones to be drawn to the secluded Cotswolds area. The house was located on the 4,000-acre Great Tew Estate, home to David and Victoria Beckham's country house and celebrity hotspot, Soho Farmhouse.

Forced to flee

Meghan and Harry kiss inside Frogmore Cottage kitchen
Meghan and Harry revealed the inside of Frogmore Cottage on their Netflix docuseries (Netflix)

So what could make them abandon their countryside dreams? The Duke of Sussex detailed his excitement over moving into the home, and the subsequent disappointment of needing to leave in his memoir, Spare.

"We loved it out there. The air fresh, the verdant grounds – plus, no paps. Best of all, we’d be able to call upon the talents of my father’s longtime butler, Kevin. He knew the Oxfordshire house, and he’d know how to turn it quickly into a home," he wrote, recalling their time there as: "A much-needed change of scenery, a much-needed ally in our corner."

It wasn't to last after Prince Harry was alerted to breaches of their privacy.

"A helicopter was hovering above the property, a pap hanging out of the door, aiming telephoto lenses at every window, including our bedroom. Thus ended the dream of Oxfordshire," he penned.

Frogmore Cottage move

frogmore cottage
Harry and Meghan left Frogmore Cottage for Montecito in 2020

The late Queen Elizabeth II gifted her grandson Frogmore Cottage when he married Meghan in 2018.

It required extensive renovations over six months, including replacing defective ceiling beams, upgrading the heating and electrical systems, and installing new gas and water mains.

Frogmore House, Windsor
Frogmore House was where the couple had their engagement photos and their wedding reception (Getty)

The couple moved in shortly before their eldest child Archie was born in May 2019. It held a special place in their hearts, considering it was Archie's first home, and it was near the couple's wedding venue Frogmore House where their gorgeous engagement photographs were taken.

A palace statement to HELLO! at the time read: "Windsor is a very special place for Their Royal Highnesses and they are grateful that their official residence will be on the estate. The Duke and Duchess’s official office will continue to be based at Kensington Palace."

Harry and Meghan paid back £2.4 million of taxpayers’ money used to renovate Frogmore Cottage in 2020 after they stepped back as senior royals and relocated to America.

The royal couple now reside stateside in a sprawling mansion in Montecito, where they have a stunning nursery for their daughter Lilibet, a chicken coop that Archie likes to visit, and an outdoor swimming pool.