Hollywood is a place where privacy, insofar as it exists, goes to die. This is a shared reality for those whose names inspire entertainment-related headlines, and has quickly become familiar territory to former senior royals Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Since moving into their temporary home in Hollywood Hills, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have reported five drone-related incidents to the Los Angeles police department’s non-emergency hotline.
Five drone-related incidents, all in the month of May. Ever since the pair moved from Vancouver Island into their friend Tyler Perry’s home, they’ve reportedly been wrestling with “unimaginable” levels of press intrusion.
The potentially illegal drones they’ve seen circling the air, for example, have flown as low as 20 feet above their property, photographing them as they play with their infant son, Archie.
“They see these drones coming in at them, and they guess that they are being operated by photographers, but they can’t just assume that,” a friend of the couple told The Daily Beast. “Meghan received racist death threats at the time of her wedding, so the terror threat is very real for them.”
Watch: Harry and Meghan increase security at their LA mansion. Story continues below.
A representative for the L.A.P.D. confirmed to ET Canada that they’d seen previous drone violations in the very same area where Harry and Meghan are currently staying, including a separate “drone incident” from over a month ago, in West Los Angeles.
Invasions of privacy since their relocation to L.A. have happened on the ground, too.
Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, Harry and Meghan have been delivering meals to L.A. residents with critical illnesses, an ongoing charity effort they’ve been doing with Project Angel Food.
During one food delivery run last month, it was reported that paparazzi spotted the couple and began to follow them, cutting across lanes of traffic and driving “erratically” to snap some photos. They almost caused an accident.
And if any of this sounds eerily familiar, it might be because Princess Diana, Prince Harry’s mother, was killed in a car crash in 1997 when her driver tried to outrun paparazzi in a Paris underpass.
“I think being part of this family, in this role and this job, every single time I see a camera, every single time I hear a click, every single time I see a flash, it takes me straight back,” Prince Harry said of his mother’s death in an interview from last year.
In that same interview, Meghan expressed her own frustrations with the unrelenting British press, revealing the extent to which the attention on her during her pregnancy affected her mental health.
The tragic irony of the present moment: the couple broke free of the royal family in March in an attempt to build a more peaceful life, outside the public eye.
The couple still doesn’t have a private security team, despite previous reports that Prince Charles said he would foot the bill. (President Donald Trump, as you might remember, announced the U.S. wouldn’t be covering the cost of their protection either.)
The residence where Harry and Meghan are staying is equipped with a security detail, but there’s not much those people can do about drones flying above their home, or cars chasing them down L.A. streets.
“It’s like people forget they are real people. But this is a real family,” the source told The Daily Beast. “They are not asking for any special treatment; they are just asking for the safety and security we all expect in our own homes to be respected.”