Sadiq Khan has avoided getting drawn into the royal ‘civil war’ by turning down an invite to Harry and Meghan’s £11million Montecito mansion during his ‘vanity’ tour of the US days before he was due to see William and the Queen.
The Sussexes made the offer after they had to refuse the Mayor of London’s invitation to be the star guests at a glitzy party he hosted in Los Angeles during last week’s five-day jaunt, which is said to have cost taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds.
However, Mr Khan turned the offer down due to ‘logistical difficulties’. These apparently included a busy schedule and the 90-minute drive from his party in West Hollywood to their nine-bedroom, 16-bathroom home in upscale Montecito, Santa Barbara – reportedly the site of a new Netflix Kardashians-style documentary series.
A spokesman for the Archewell Foundation did not deny the story when contacted by The Standard.
Norman Baker, former Lib Dem Transport Secretary and an author of a book on the Royal Family, said he was ‘surprised’ at the Sussexes decision to invite Mr Khan to their home.
‘Although Harry and Meghan are semi-divorced from the Royal Family they need to be careful not to demonstrate any political allegiance,’ he told MailOnline. ‘Sadiq Khan was right to turn this invitation down.’
Mr Khan, 51, is a friend of Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and it is likely he would want to avoid being drawn into the ‘civil war’ between the Sussexes and the rest of the Royal Family. The Mayor met William before the FA Cup final last weekend, and also appeared alongside the Queen during the opening of Crossrail on Tuesday.
Meghan, 40, is believed to harbour political ambitions, with past reports suggesting she had been networking with senior Democrats with a view to building a campaign and fundraising teams for a tilt at the US Presidency. Sources close to the couple have previously declined to comment on the rumours, but the couple have made little secret of their political beliefs.
During the US election last year they levelled a thinly veiled attack on Donald Trump by urging voters to ‘reject hate speech’, which a spokesman for the couple described as ‘a call for decency’. Trump has himself declared that he was ‘not a fan’ of Meghan, and – in a recent interview with Piers Morgan – claimed she was leading Prince Harry, 37, ‘by the nose’.
In 2020, a friend of the Duchess told Vanity Fair magazine that one of the reasons she did not give up her American citizenship when she married into the Royal Family was to allow her to keep open the option of entering Washington politics.
The rumours have clearly resonated in Washington DC, with the President Joe Biden’s sister, Valerie, 76, recently inviting the duchess to join the Democratic Party and saying that she would ‘of course’ make a good presidential candidate.
The Sussexes invited Sadiq Khan to their Santa Barbara mansion after they turned down an invitation to appear at his glitzy LA party last week (where he is seen greeting James Corden, left)
Mr Khan turned the offer down due to ‘logistical difficulties’ – including a packed schedule and the 90-minute drive from his party in West Hollywood to their home near Santa Barbara
Mr Khan chatting with Mr Corden, who is now a major star in the US, at last week’s party – which included other guests from the ‘creative industries’
Meghan and Harry sent three members of staff to Mr Khan’s party, held on Tuesday last week, including James Holt (pictured), Nick Clegg’s former communications chief who is now executive director of the Archewell Foundation
Dressed in sunshine yellow, the Queen arrived at Paddington at 11.32am, stepping carefully from the transparent lift while holding a walking stick and smiling warmly, as she attended alongside Sadiq Khan and Boris Johnson
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge alongside children from The Heathlands School and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan
Just last year London Mayor Sadiq Khan was pictured alongside Prince William as the pair discussed the environment at Kensington Palace
Meghan and Harry sent three members of staff to Mr Khan’s party, held on Tuesday last week, including James Holt, Nick Clegg’s former communications chief who is now executive director of the Archewell Foundation.
Fears of MORE ‘truth bombs’ before the Queen’s Jubilee amid ‘plans for royal Keeping Up with the Kardashians’
By Martin Robinson, Chief Reporter for MailOnline
The Queen’s aides are said to have already banned Harry and Meghan’s camera crews from her palaces as she marks her extraordinary 70-year reign. The couple have also been barred from the Buckingham Palace balcony for the Changing the Guard on June 2. But a Netflix team have been following them since last year, including a trip to New York compared to a royal visit and their trip to The Hague for the Invictus Games in April.
Claims that the Sussexes have now invited cameras into their Montecito mansion are likely to be causing concern among courtiers.
Sources suggest the Sussexes are angling for the docuseries’ to be delayed until early next year, around the time Harry is expected to release his tell-all memoirs where he will likely have another say on Megxit as well the Sussexes’ claims that an unnamed royal was racist towards Archie and aides neglected his wife when she was suicidal and pregnant.
‘The timing is still being discussed, things are up in the air,’ a ‘producer in the know’ claimed, adding that the cameras had been rolling at their grand home in Montecito.
Royal expert Angela Levin, author of 2018 book ‘Harry: Conversations With The Prince’, said: ‘Harry wanted privacy and to be ordinary. He also hated cameras. But he’s ended up doing an at home docuseries for Netflix. Does he need to be searched for hidden cameras on Jubilee days? Will he steal the event from the Queen?’
Australian royal commentator Daniela Elser said: ‘In only four years, the Sussexes have gone from being global darlings, resoundingly adored with desk drawers full of enterprising plans for charity projects, to reducing themselves to proto-Kardashians’.
The ‘at-home docuseries’ is one of the couple’s main media projects after Netflix, whose share price has tumbled after subscribers dropped as the pandemic fizzled out, scrapped Meghan’s animated show Pearl about a young girl inspired by Meghan who takes on social injustices while highlighting the work of feminist icons. The Duchess of Sussex is said to be looking for another broadcaster to buy it up.
Amid rumours that a reality show was in the offing, Meghan’s half-sister Samantha Markle said last month: ‘They’re not the Kardashians. That’s comparing apples to oranges. The Kardashians were an American business empire and everyone knows their background’.
The bash was held at Holloway House, part of the Soho House empire, with a raft of celebrities in attendance, including James Corden and Richard Curtis.
Today’s development follows reports the Sussexes are filming an ‘at-home docuseries’ for Netflix so the streaming giant can get its ‘pound of flesh’ as part of their $100million (£82m) Megxit streaming deal.
The Sussexes are said to have welcomed cameras into their mansion for a reality-type series that could be in the mould of The Osbournes – although it is not yet known if the couple’s two children, three-year-old Archie and 11-month-old Lilibet, will also feature.
‘I think it’s fair to say that Netflix is getting its pound of flesh,’ a Hollywood insider in the know about the project claimed to Page Six.
The at home reality show was pioneered by The Osbournes, which made Ozzy and Sharon the king and queen of reality TV in the noughties. The mantle was then taken on by the Kardashians, who are now in their 20th season and are worth a collective $1.4billion.
The format would likely suit Harry and Meghan, who have demanded control over their media messaging since emigrating in 2020. But they also demanded privacy, so a reality show has raised eyebrows amongst royal experts who have suggested it is a paradox.
And with just two weeks until the Sussexes all fly into the UK for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the story in the US will raise anxieties at Buckingham Palace that the couple will use it to fire more transatlantic potshots at the Royal Family.
Meanwhile, Mr Khan’s US jaunt has been savaged by critics, who questioned whether the transatlantic trip is ‘to promote London or to promote himself’.
Critics have suggested that Mayor Khan is so keen for publicity on the trip he calls a £10million trade mission that even a cup of coffee with former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, was turned into a photo op.
And after jetting across the country to the Silicon Valley in California, The Mayor of London grabbed more headlines after he said Donald Trump’s term as US president led to a significant rise in racial abuse directed at him – and urged Elon Musk not to let the billionaire return to Twitter unless he was sure Trump had ‘learned his lesson’.
London Conservatives told MailOnline there are questions about ‘probity and transparency’ in the Mayor’s office after their demand to know what the trip has cost Londoners, who have been handed a record 8.8 per cent council tax increase, was knocked back.
Suspicions were raised after Mr Khan shared a tweet thanking United Airlines for ‘getting me to NYC safely’, prompting speculation the £12bn airline may have provided free or discounted flights.
City Hall has said that the full costs of the visit will be calculated on the Mr Khan’s return to London.
But a week-long trip to China by Boris Johnson when he was mayor cost taxpayers £65,000 due to flights, accommodation and expenses for him and his entourage.
The Mayor of London was heavily criticised for his decision to travel to America at the height of the cost of living crisis, with opponents questioned whether it was ‘to promote London or to promote himself’.
And after jetting across the country to the Silicon Valley in California, he grabbed more headlines after he said Donald Trump’s term as US president led to a significant rise in racial abuse directed at him – and urged Elon Musk not to let the billionaire return to Twitter unless he was sure Trump had ‘learned his lesson’.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are reportedly filming an ‘at-home with the Sussexes-style’ docuseries for Netflix – which is said to have been finalised during their trip to New York in September (pictured)
According to Page Six, Harry, 37, and Meghan, 40, have been filming for several months, however it is not known whether they have allowed Archie and Lilibet to be on camera
During last week’s trip to the US, Mr Khan visited a licensed cannabis cultivation business in Los Angeles. A Tory rival at City Hall said his face appeared so blank, they asked: ‘Can you get high from just smelling the stuff??’
Earlier in the week Mr Khan threw the first pitch at the San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies baseball game at Oracle Park
He was asked for a selfie with Female Founders of London & Partners’ trade mission at Plug & Play in Silicon Valley
The Labour Mayor makes Hillary Clinton laugh as they meet at the Clinton Foundation offices in New York
Sadiq Khan launches latest battle in his war on motorists: Consultation on Mayor’s plans to expand the £12.50-a-day Ultra Low Emission Zone
By Laurence Dollimore for MailOnline
Sadiq Khan has launched a consultation on plans to expand London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) to cover the entire city – encompassing 3.5million more people – in a bid to tackle the capital’s ‘toxic air crisis’.
The mayor is proposing to extend the scheme’s boundary from the North and South Circular Roads to the whole of Greater London from August 29 next year.
Drivers of vehicles which do not comply with minimum emissions standards are charged a daily fee of £12.50 for entering the Ulez.
Analysis by the PA news agency found that more than 3.5 million more people will live within the zone if it is expanded as planned.
The mayor’s office estimated that an additional 135,000 vehicles would be affected, meaning it could rake in almost £1.7million extra per day.
It comes after the introduction of the much-hated Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), which closed some roads to through-traffic to try to reduce pollution on residential streets.
A raft of LTNs in London were scrapped last year after they were found to increase local congestion and caused ‘no material change in air quality’.
Mr Khan has also angered London’s drivers in recent years with policies such as the extension in both time and price of the Congestion Charge, while cycle lanes have also proved deeply unpopular with motorists for causing longer journey times.
In launching its latest consultation, conducted by Transport for London (TfL), Mayor Khan’s office warned that the capital is suffering a ‘toxic air crisis’, with around 4,000 premature deaths in 2019 attributed to filthy air.
Amid suggestions commercial sponsorship and public cash may be funding the trip, London Assembly member for Croydon, Neil Garratt, who is Conservative spokesman for the economy and tourism in London, wrote to the Mayor demanding to know the cost of the trip and who is paying.
Mr Garratt told MailOnline Mr Khan has been ‘swanning around America promoting himself’ while on a taxpayer-funded ‘jolly overseas’, hours after Home Secretary Priti Patel said his ‘time would be better spent focusing on knife and drug crime in London’ rather than being in America.
‘The insider view at City Hall is he’s leaving politics at the end of his second term, so this week looks more like a self-promoting “gizza job” tour at taxpayers’ expense’, Mr Garratt said, adding: ‘Is this a trip for the Mayor to promote London or to promote himself? The Mayor should do that on his own time, not at the cost of tens of thousands of pounds of public money’.
London Conservatives told MailOnline there are questions about ‘probity and transparency’ in the Mayor’s office after their demand to know what the trip is costing Londoners, who have been handed a record 8.8 per cent council tax increase, was knocked back.
Suspicions were raised after Mr Khan shared a tweet thanking United Airlines for ‘getting me to NYC safely’, prompting speculation the £12bn airline may have provided free or discounted flights.
City Hall has said that the full costs of the visit will be calculated on the Mr Khan’s return to London. But a week-long trip to China by Boris Johnson when he was mayor cost taxpayers £65,000 due to flights, accommodation and expenses for him and his entourage.
Mr Khan also raised eyebrows with his ‘fact finding mission’ to a California cannabis farm so he can explore the potential benefits of legalising the drug in the capital. Hours earlier he was at a LA party with late-night TV host and former Londoner James Corden, who he embraced at a drinks reception also attended Love Actually director Richard Curtis.
The former Labour MP, who previously admitted smoking cannabis on a friend’s stag do in Amsterdam in his twenties, stared blankly at the plants as he wandered through them. Tory Leader at City Hall, Susan Hall, tweeted a picture of the visit and said: ‘That’s an interesting look on his face. Can you get high from just smelling the stuff??’
The visit to the drug farm sparked an angry rebuke from Tory Home Secretary Priti Patel, who reminded him he does not have the power to change the criminal law and his ‘time would be better spent focusing on knife and drug crime in London’.
Mr Khan also included New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, where he launched a £10million campaign to bring more tourists to the British capital.
The Mayor’s spokesman said last week: ‘The Mayor is in America to bang the drum for London. A big part of our continued recovery from the pandemic will be attracting international tourism, business and investment to our city once again. Tourism accounts for as many as one in five jobs in London and contributes almost 12 per cent of the city’s Gross Domestic Product.
‘The Mayor is committed to keeping the costs of the visit to a bare minimum and maximising value for money. Flight arrangements, including the Mayor’s, are part of a broader agreement between the Greater London Authority and United Airlines.’
Sadiq Khan with the Coldstream Guards at the ‘Let’s Do London’ in a ‘Times Square Takeover’
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan walks to a television interview in New York City on the first day of a 5 day visit to the US
Last Monday Mr Khan attended the launch of an international tourism campaign – Let’s Do London – in Times Square, after being photographed wandering around New York like a tourus
Despite being in America to promote tourism, Mr Khan still found time to take centre stage at the San Francisco Giant’s stadium to take the ceremonial first pitch.
He had even found time to practice his throw while in Central Park, New York, the previous day.
Mr Khan’s visit to the States took him from meetings with Hilary Clinton and the Mayor of New York on the East Coast on Monday to the tech firms of Silicon Valley on Tuesday, where he met with Google and LinkedIn executives in San Francisco,
While there, the mayor also waded into the debate over whether Donald Trump should be allowed back on Twitter after its new owner, Elon Musk, suggested he would reinstate his account.
Mayor Khan walks through cannabis plants which are being legally cultivated at ‘Traditional’ a licensed factory in Los Angeles
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaking during a visit to the Islamic Centre of Southern California in Los Angeles, Wednesday May 11, 2022
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (left) meeting Mayor of LA Eric Garcetti at City Hall in Los Angeles. Wednesday May 11, 2022
Mr Khan said the former president’s period in office had led to a significant rise in racial abuse directed at him – and sharply dropped after he was banned.
Mr Trump first criticised the London leader in 2016 for his response to the London Bridge terror attacks, then during a visit to the UK in 2019 called Mr Khan a ‘stone cold loser’ who had failed to manage crime rates in the capital.
Mr Khan, who is also the first Muslim to be elected the mayor of a major Western city, said Mr Musk should ‘wait and see’ if Mr Trump had learnt his lesson.
‘If it’s the case that Donald Trump is going to use Twitter responsibly, I think that’s all well and good.
‘If he breaks the rules, there needs to be consequences and we can’t afford a situation where people think social media is where people behave irresponsibly, where you see an increase in not just racism, sexism and misogyny but also division.’
Sadiq Khan meets children at the Islamic Centre of Southern California during a visit to Los Angeles on day 3 of a planned 5 day
Sadiq Khan pitches the first ball at the San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies baseball game at Oracle Park. He then spoke to Gabe Kapler, manager of the Giants
The Mayor of London with his personalised Major League baseball jersey
During the trip, City Hall announced this week US league baseball matches will again be played in London from next Summer.
To celebrate, Mr Khan took centre stage at the Giants’ stadium wearing an oversized jersey with his name emblazoned on it.
Commentators said he received a ‘modest reception’ from the 21,000 fans when introduced during the interval.
He later told ITV London: ‘One of the things I have been making clear during this trip is my aspiration to have London as the sporting capital of the world – not just American football, baseball, boxing, tennis, cricket and so forth, but at some stage we would like the Olympics back as well..’
And yesterday’s cannabis farm visit in Los Angeles and new decriminalisation group puts him on a collision course with Labour leader Keir Starmer.
A party spokesperson confirmed: ‘Labour does not support changing the law on drugs.
‘Drugs policy is not devolved to mayors and under Labour would continue to be set by national government.’
Khan takes part in a Q&A with students at Stanford University in California hosted by student Rustom Birdie
Sadiq Khan practices his pitching in Central Park in New York
The Mayor of London said former justice secretary Lord Charlie Falconer QC will be the chair of the first London Drugs Commission, which will assess the effectiveness of UK drug laws.
Cannabis is currently classed as a class B drug, with a maximum sentence of five years in prison for possession. And while he can influence the debate, Mr Khan has no say in changing the law.
Though advocates say smoking or eating the drug can make people feel happier, sceptics warn that regular cannabis use increases the risk of developing a psychotic illness. Results from European neighbours offer an insight into the potential pitfalls of the policy – with Portugal seeing a huge surge in cannabis-induced psychosis after it decriminalised the drug in 2001.
Mr Khan later visited Gorrila RX Wellness shop in the Crenshaw area of the city, which stocks 1,900 brands of cannabis-related products including beverages, edibles and coffee beans.
Kika Keith, owner of the shop, said the decriminalisation of cannabis in the UK would ‘tremendously help’ London’s black community.
A trip to a coffee shop for the jet-lagged mayor with former New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg was also turned into a photo op
London mayor Sadiq Khan speaks during the ‘Let’s Do London’ U.S. tourism campaign launch in Times Square
Perhaps unaware of who was, Mayor Khan walked through Manhattan with New Yorkers on the first day of his trip