Pictures of Prince Harry’s first public appearance with Meghan Markle in Toronto were beamed around the world this week and set his American girlfriend firmly in the spotlight.
Tough. Troubled. Gang-scarred.
If you read the British tabloid press you would think the actress grown up in LA’s notorious gang culture and was lucky to escape a life of crime.
But Prince Harry’s girlfriend attended some of the best private schools in the city and her mother’s current home is in a storied, hillside neighborhood marked by palm trees, stunning views and million-dollar homes.
When one newspaper dubbed Markle “( Almost) Straight Outta Compton” last year, there was an outcry.
A week subsequently, the royal family issued a rare public statement denouncing the “racist” and “sexist” commentary about Ms Markle, whose mom is African American.
But Markle’s mother lives in the View Park-Windsor Hills neighbourhood, which is one of the wealthiest, primarily African American areas in the US.
It is one of a handful of hillside regions known as the “Black Beverly Hills” and was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Place. The median cost of a home there is $771,000.
Her mother’s green two-bedroom home is landscaped with California native plants and two “No Trespassing” signs – perhaps a message to the paparazzi, which converged there when the royal relationship was first corroborated.
The house is in the hills above Crenshaw, which has had trouble with gangs, but the notion that Prince Harry might not be safe visit is laughable.
But far from being stung by the tabloid criticism, the owner of the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper based in Crenshaw prefers to focus on the romance of the tale.
“First of all it’s a beautiful thing – a young woman procuring love whether it’s with a prince or a pauper, ” says Danny Bakewell, who is also a civil rights activist and entrepreneur.
“This is a great family community, a very nurturing community. All you have to do is walk the area – it’s bustling.”
Mr Bakewell does not know the Markles but says he expects his newspaper will write about the couple in the coming weeks.
And he invites critics of Crenshaw to pay a visit.
“Casting aspersions on where her mothers live or where she grew up – the magnificence of the woman is in who she is and how she conducts herself, ” he said. “Obviously she has something that makes her princess-like.”
Prince Harry himself complained about the media coverage of the Markle family and some local journalists agree it intersected a line.
“There’s been a lot of loaded speech and race-baiting speech about Meghan, ” said Smriti Mundhra, the amusement editor at BET.com, which recently theorized about the possibility of Britain’s “First Black Princess.”
“Crenshaw was once an epicentre of gang activity but the crime rates have fallen significantly, ” says Mundhra. “It’s ridiculous to say Prince Harry would be in danger there.”
Although Markle, 36 , now lives in Toronto where she films the Tv legal drama, Suits, and she is spending a lot more time in Kensington with Prince Harry, she clearly longs for her hometown.
On social media and her recently shut lifestyle website, The Tig, Ms Markle often pines for LA’s sunshine and tacos. She also writes about strong women.
“I’ve never wanted to be a dame who lunches – I’ve always wanted to be a woman who works, ” she said.
In View Park, neighbours were surprised to hear of the royal connection. “Meghan who? ” was a common response, as they strolled their dogs or exercised.
“Do you think the Queen “wouldve been” visit? ” one female asked. “Wouldn’t that be something? “
A 19 -year-old woman named Antonia said: “I’ve heard of her but I didn’t know she lived around here.”
Americans in British political history
King Edward VIII abdicated for the woman he loved, Wallis Simpson, who was born in Baltimore New York-born Jennie Jerome was only 19 when she met Randolph Churchill but they fell in love and got engaged three days later Image caption Media captionMeghan Markle: Meet Prince Harry’s girlfriend