"Anywhere is more private than being a member of the royal family in Britain," Julie Montagu, Viscount Hinchingbrooke, said of the couple's recent move to L.A.

By Morgan M. Evans
May 12, 2020 10:00 AM
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Julie Montagu, Viscountess Hinchingbrooke, has experienced life as an American in aristocratic circles — and she's supportive of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's recent move to the U.S.

The couple, who relocated to Meghan’s hometown of Los Angeles after stepping down as senior working members of the royal family, is focusing on building a new life with their 1-year-old son, Archie.

"I think that Meghan has slightly Americanized Harry. I love it," Montagu, host of the Smithsonian Chanel's new series, An American Aristocrat’s Guide to Great Estates, tells PEOPLE. And though the former Ladies of London star says she's excited for Meghan and Harry, she says she was "surprised" by the news that the couple had moved from their temporary home in Canada to the U.S. as soon as they did.

Julie Montagu, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle
| Credit: FOX Image Collection via Getty; Samir Hussein/WireImage

“I actually thought they were going to stay in Canada, just because I thought it would be more peaceful for them,” she says. “I thought it was a good transition country — a good compromise.”

Montagu, who is married to Luke Timothy Charles Montagu, Viscount Hinchingbrooke — son of the 11th Earl of Sandwich — previously expressed empathy for the pair, relating to Meghan as an American who had to grow accustomed to British aristocratic society upon getting married.

And as a mother of four, she says she understands Meghan wanting to be closer to her mother, Doria, who lives in L.A.

Julie Montagu
| Credit: Smithsonian Channel
Julie Montagu, her husband, Luke, and their children in front of the Mapperton Estate.
| Credit: Smithsonian Channel
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

In addition to their recent move to L.A., in April, the couple announced the name of their future foundation, Archewell — which shares a connection with their son, who celebrated his first birthday on Wednesday. Though the news of the couple's move and foundation name made for buzzy headlines amid the coronavirus pandemic, Montagu believes that Meghan and Harry's actions are intended to be more about avoiding the spotlight.

"I know they’ve gotten a lot of flack from the press about announcing their new charity and then moving in the middle of COVID-19, but there's a part of me that thinks they're probably thinking moving now would be a good way to try and avoid being the main headline news — in one sense, trying to stay under the radar," she says.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
| Credit: Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty

"I don’t think they want to be in the news," adds Montagu, who runs the Mapperton Estate with her husband. "They want their projects and the charitable foundations that they support to be in the news, but they themselves don't want to be in the news."

For now, the reality star-turned-TV host of the new Smithsonian Channel travel series believes the couple will solely focus on getting their charity up and running while adjusting to their new life in the U.S.

"I think there are some people thinking that Harry is going to miss royal duties and the lifestyle, and I mean, he may miss parts of it," Montagu says. "But I think that this is what Harry's always wanted — an escape."

The Guide to Great Estates host goes on to say that despite living in the paparazzi-filled city, Meghan and Harry may have a better sense of calm in America than they did across the pond.

"Anywhere is more private than being a member of the royal family in Britain," says Montagu.

"Now that the dust has settled with their move and they've dropped their HRH titles — they're now ready to be normal. I think that they will keep their [new] house very, very private as far as photos go," says the former Bravo star.

Julie Montagu
| Credit: Smithsonian Channel

Back in January, Queen Elizabeth announced that her grandson and his wife would no longer use their royal titles following their decision to step down from their roles as senior members of the royal family. Months later, Meghan and Harry shut down their Sussex Royal Instagram page ahead of their official departure from the royal family on April 1.

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Though initially shocked by the social media gesture, Montagu believes it won’t be long before a new Instagram is put in place of the Sussex Royal page that has since gone dark.

“I suspect if they're going to announce and create social media for Archewell. This is a new start. I'm just waiting for that," she says. "Then they need the Instagram — and we know that that's how they to release statements, which is what they have done with everything since they've been married. I don't see them not having one.”

An American Aristocrat’s Guide to Great Estates premieres on Sunday, May 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel.