Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were recently gifted Adelaide Cottage, a royal estate bestowed upon them by the Queen herself. While the word “cottage” may conjure up the image of a quaint home in the woods, rest assured that this is not that kind of cottage. Located on the Windsor Castle grounds, Adelaide is basically a mini-mansion with a list of former tenants that includes the likes of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
Basically, everyone’s favorite couple is likely in the throes of a major interior design undertaking. But unlike most of us, who head straight to places like IKEA and CB2 in the event of such a challenge, Meghan and Harry’s lifestyle demands something… more.
“Decorating a palace is unlike decorating any other type of residence. You have to account for the historical value of the building, the centuries-old architectural details, and the purpose it is designed for,” says Christine Ross, the editorial director of Meghan’s Mirror, a blog that chronicles the many intricacies of Markle’s existence. “Meghan and Harry will be hosting international dignitaries in this space and carrying out official royal duties, so it has to retain a sense of ‘royalness.’”
While the house is luxurious — especially compared to their former home, Nottingham Cottage, which apparently has no AC and only one bathroom, a setup very much not fit for a princess — it has some rather unusual flourishes. According to the heritage organization Historic England, the plush master bedroom features a “coved ceiling with gilded dolphins and rope ornament reused from the Royal yacht Royal George,” which sounds cool but also pretty hard to coordinate with.
While Harry will, of course, have a say in things, it’s likely the brunt of the home-making responsibilities will fall on Markle’s shoulders. So if you’re dying to get a better idea of what the place where Harry and Meghan will be starting their life together might look like, consider Meghan’s well-documented sartorial sensibilities, as well as the images of how she decorated her Toronto apartment.
According to Ross, like many millennial women who grew up poring over Free People catalogs and pulling together inspiration from across the internet on Pinterest, Markle’s style tends to intentionally incorporate several contrasting elements for a contemporary, layered look. “Meghan’s interior design style, much like her personal style, is a mix of perfectly-imperfect,” she explains. “She loves to match Scandinavian furniture with antique Chinese vases, tied together with a modern art print and a stack of elegant books. She brings together different elements that she loves, whether they ‘go’ or not.” A girl after our own heart!
Cheryl Eisen, celebrity interior designer and president of Interior Marketing Group, has a similar take on what makes something quintessentially Markle: “Meghan seems to have an understated, chic taste that incorporates a few eclectic elements. Her Toronto home is laden with white marble, mirrors, gold accents, and white roses. I think we will see more of the same.”
Of course, what flies in one’s Canadian bachelorette pad might not be as appropriate in one’s palatial English starter home hand-picked by the Queen. Just as she’s had to tone down some of her Hollywood glamour when she’s representing the monarchy (not to mention make some serious sacrifices when it comes to food), she’ll likely have to leave some of the edgier or more contemporary elements out when decorating the cottage. Foreign dignitaries might be a bit confused by trendy items like succulents and British flag throw pillows.
“She may have to save the fluffy IKEA sheepskin rugs for behind closed doors!” agrees Ross. “There will definitely be an adjustment to suit both the architectural and historical value of her new home and the cozy, comfortable, ‘normal’ life she hopes her family will have.”
Eisen thinks she will lean into the more elegant elements that are a natural part of her style. “Her interior design style is classic, comfortable and uncomplicated — something I think will stay consistent as a Royal,” she says. “Light, airy with a good amount of white-on-white, but she mixes in some hand-picked elements that keep her space from looking like a furniture showroom.”
It’s worth noting that major renovations to the home would be verboten, as Adelaide Cottage has Grade II status, a term for a property of historical significance in England. The couple’s new getaway in the Cotswolds, on the other hand, may allow for a bit more self-expression, as it’s not an official royal residence, and the pair reportedly paid for it with their own money.