Prince Harry and Meghan Markle feel SO much more relatable than other royal couples — as much as I love Prince William and Duchess Kate, Meghan and Harry have always seemed so down-to-earth to me. But I've been reminded that royals are not, in fact, just like us — Queen Elizabeth's wedding gift to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may be one of her country houses, and it's pretty much the ultimate off-the-registry gift. According to 9News in Australia, the property she'd reportedly gift is thought to be York Cottage, located at Sandringham Estate, a property owned by the Queen that has more than 150 buildings, according to the official website.
The news was first reported by Australian news company News Corp., and even though it's being reported without official confirmation from the royal family, there's reason to believe the rumors may have merit. Prince William and Duchess Kate were gifted a country home by the Queen in 2011, and they lived there for the first six years of their marriage, according to Vogue.
Gifting a country home in a quiet area of England isn't much of a financial sacrifice for the Queen — according to Business Insider, the British monarchy has assets worth about $1.4 billion. But it's a meaningful gesture for other reasons. Both Prince Harry and Prince William have been open about the fact that they blame paparazzi for Princess Diana's death, and it has led both princes to be relatively private about their lives. Having a quiet, secluded property allows them to fulfill royal duties while still living relatively normal lives.
It's unclear whether Prince Harry will follow his other brother's lead and live in York Cottage permanently, or take the more conventional route and reside at Kensington Palace with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Because Meghan and Harry have shown us they aren't afraid to break rules during the wedding planning process, there's no way to know what they'll decide.
York Cottage has history dating back to the 19th century. According to a website dedicated to the Norfolk Coast, at least five royals have been born at the property. As much as I love champagne flutes and toasters, this may well be the best wedding gift I've ever seen.
The gift is made even more special because it pretty much squashes the all-too-pervasive rumors that the Queen isn't fond of Prince Harry's bride-to-be. In early 2018, Snopes debunked a claim that the Queen threatened to suspend the wedding because she disapproved of Harry's future bride, and Markle has faced unnecessary scrutiny for being divorced. But the Queen seems to have no problem with Meghan and Harry, and her generous gift is a reminder of that.
As someone currently saving for a downpayment to buy my first home, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous of the royal couple. But another reason that this gift is so meaningful is that Harry and Meghan aren't even asking for wedding gifts — instead, all guests are being asked to donate to charities that support "sport for social change, women's empowerment, conservation, the environment, homelessness, HIV and the Armed Forces," according to a release from Kensington Palace. But the Queen is probably the only person who can definitely get away with breaking any wedding rule she wants.
It's unlikely that we'll see pictures that showcase Meghan and Harry's interior design choices, thanks to the whole intensely private thing, but we can admire it all from afar. Even if the Queen ends up not gifting the happy couple this home in particular, I have a feeling her wedding gift will still be pretty awesome.