- I spent a day exploring Windsor, the historic English town that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have left behind as they start a new life in Canada.
- The Queen recently confirmed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would spend time in both the UK and Canada during a transitional period as they depart from their working roles within the royal family.
- They are currently on Vancouver Island with baby Archie. With reports that their Frogmore Cottage staff have been relocated, there's no word on when - or if - the couple plan to permanently return to the UK.
- I wanted to see why the couple would leave behind a place that has such significance to them.
- Prince Harry spent his teenage years at Eton College boarding school while his grandmother used the nearby Windsor Castle as her weekend home base.
- Despite the small group of tourists at Windsor Castle, the rest of the town appeared a perfectly cozy and quiet place when I visited last Tuesday - ideal for two people looking to escape the spotlight.
- For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.
As soon as I stepped off the train at Windsor and Eton Riverside station, it was evident that "royals" is a prominent theme in this town.
My first impression was that the area managed to appear both cozy and quiet ...
... and yet there was no denying that two royal megastars live (or used to live) here.
My first stop was Windsor Castle. Windsor has been a royal residence for more than 900 years, and the Queen often uses it as her weekend home.
I arrived just in time for the Welsh Guard procession.
By this point, the crowd had gathered to watch — but it still wasn't as busy as the likes of Buckingham Palace. The police wardens on duty were extremely friendly, and I even saw one of them stop to take a photo of a family of tourists.
Then it was time to explore the castle grounds. It usually costs £23.50 (R448) for a day ticket, however, I was given a complimentary press pass.
As I made my way inside the State Apartments, I overheard one tourist say to their friend that the castle was like "an entire village on its own." I couldn't help but agree.
Harry and Markle's Frogmore Cottage home is located within the grounds, but it isn't accessible to the public.
I was, however, able to visit St George's Chapel, where they had their royal wedding in May 2018. It was even more magnificent in person.
After that, it was time for a spot of lunch — and where better to go than a pub named after Prince Harry?
One look at the menu, and I already knew what item was calling to me: The Prince Harry beef burger. (Yes, it was really called that).
It wasn't long before a flurry of blonde Americans wandered in and playfully asked the bartender if "you're gonna have to re-name this place soon?" A polite laugh and a shake of the head was their answer.
As I walked off my lunch, it seemed that the further away from the castle I got, the more this could just seem like any regular English town.
Despite the tourists at the castle, the surrounding streets were mostly empty. Keep in mind, I was visiting on a weekday — but still, I was shocked at the contrast I felt after being so used to busy London.
There were plenty of well-known chain restaurants, including Nando's and McDonald's, to choose from.
But for those paying close attention, there are traces of the royal family everywhere you go. I found this pamphlet from Princess Margaret's 1960 royal wedding in an antique book store.
Just a 20-minute walk from the castle was Eton College, the $53,000-a-year (about R777,000) boarding school attended by Prince Harry and Prince William.
I couldn't help but wonder whether Archie would have ended up at this school, had Harry and Markle decided to remain in Windsor full-time.
I understand why a town that's so deeply rooted in royal history wouldn't be the best place for Harry and Markle as they depart from their senior roles ...
... however, I do think that Windsor, with its peaceful streets and friendly residents, would make the perfect home for those looking to escape the spotlight.
After spending an entire day in Windsor, I understand why the Queen uses it as her weekend base.
It's secluded from the hustle and bustle that Her Majesty experiences in London - and yet its residents and visitors have the same appreciation for the royal family's history that you often see reserved for Buckingham Palace.
Harry and Markle made an excellent decision when they made this their home base in the UK.
Both the people who live here and those who travel from across the world to visit clearly adore the couple. Not to mention, it must hold special memories from the Duke of Sussex's school days and his and Markle's royal wedding.
This only goes to show how much the couple must have been struggling with royal life if they were willing to leave their home, a town with such sentimental value to them.
While they enjoy spending time in Canada, it's possible that Harry and Markle could one day return to Windsor.
I have no doubt that when - or if - the day comes, the town will be ready to welcome them back with open arms.
Receive a daily update on your cellphone with all our latest news: click here.
Also from Business Insider South Africa:
- 17 jobs paying more than R2 million in SA right now
- Here’s how much it will cost to take larger businesses off the grid – if government scraps the ‘red tape’ now limiting self-help electricity
- Checkers has a ‘secret’ online shop that’s up to 40% cheaper than its other stores - but there are a few catches
- The price of eggs is falling fast – but mielie meal is still a lot more expensive than a year ago
- Soap wars: Securex isn't copying Protex, SA's ad regulator rules, after Lifebuoy and Dettol's fights about 25 grams
- South Africans will save so much money through stokvels this year that they could buy Woolworths in cash