Princess Diana Dreamed in Living in California Like Harry and Meghan

Before her death in 1997, Princess Diana was reportedly planning a move to Malibu, California with her sons.

diana princess of wales
(Image credit: Anwar Hussein)

In the months before her death, Princess Diana was excitedly planning a move to Malibu, California, according to both her butler and her voice coach. Diana had recently begun dating businessman Dodi Fayed, who had just bought property of his own in the area. "She said, 'This is our new life, just won't it be great, think of the lifestyle, the boys—nobody's judgmental here in America, you don't have the class system, you don't have the establishment,'" former butler Paul Burrell has said. The late princess's reported dream of moving to California and leaving the royal family behind closely mirrors her son's life: Last year, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle chose to make their home in Montecito, which is an hour away from Malibu down the coast of California.

Said Burrell: "[The house] was going to be in Malibu...I saw the plans. We sat on the floor, spread out all the maps and the layout of the house." The boys, then aged 12 and 15, were based in the U.K. at the time, but Diana shared joint custody with their father Prince Charles. Burrell added: "Why couldn't [the boys] come and spend a portion of their time in America? That would be very stiff and staunchy if the queen would say, 'No, they can't go to America.'"

Speaking to Us Weekly, Diana's former voice coach Stewart Pierce supported Burrell's claim, saying: "She was talking about buying a property in Malibu [and saying] that would be ‘really great’ for the boys to have freedom so that they could surf. Because they’re both very sporty, you know, but they could surf, they could roller blade, they could Frisbee."

diana princess of wales

Diana on vacation in 1993.

(Image credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS)

Of course, Harry and Meghan have other ties to California, too: Meghan grew up in Hollywood, and her mom Doria Ragland lives nearby. And Harry and Meghan said in their Oprah tell-all interview that they love their life there: "I guess the highlight for me is sticking [Archie] on the back of the bicycle in his little baby seat and take him on these bike rides, which is something I was never able to do when I was young," Harry told Oprah.

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Megan and Archie on the beach in California.

(Image credit: CBS)

"Living here now I can actually lift my head and I feel different, my shoulders have dropped, so have hers, you can walk around feeling a little bit more free," he said on Dax Shepard's Armchair Expert podcast.

A source told Vogue at the time of their move: "Harry loves California, but they were both drawn to the smaller town of Santa Barbara, where they can integrate into the community while having some distance and privacy that is hard to come by in the Los Angeles area."

Princess Diana's Most Iconic Fashion Moments

August 9, 1997

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princess diana

(Image credit: Mirrorpix)

Princess Diana visited Bosnia to raise awareness of the landmines in 1997. The royal wore her Cartier watch and Tod's loafers.

August 9, 1997

Image 1 of 36

princess diana

(Image credit: Mirrorpix)

Princess Diana visited Bosnia to raise awareness of the landmines in 1997. The royal wore her Cartier watch and Tod's loafers.