‘Chicken lady’ Penny Bianchi, 74, lives next door to Oprah’s $52million ‘Promised Land’ estate in idyllic Montecito, California
Oprah Winfrey’s ‘chicken lady’ neighbor has revealed that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to keep a coop at their home is part of a popular trend in their new Californian hometown.
During the TV host’s interview the royal couple revealed that they have installed a chicken coop for not quite two-year-old son Archie on the grounds of their $14.7million mansion in posh Montecito.
Featuring a cute sign that reads ‘Archie’s Chick Inn’, it was the scene for Harry and Meghan’s bombshell claim that they had privately tied the knot three days before their wedding in Windsor in May 2018.
Penny Bianchi, 74, lives next door to Oprah’s $52million ‘Promised Land’ Montecito estate and inspired Oprah to get a chicken coop of her own.
The grandmother-of-seven says that Oprah, 67, is playing a hugely influential role in the lives of Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39, and believes she may have in turn given the couple the idea to keep chickens after they moved to the ‘semi-rural’ Southern California community after taking up residence at Tyler Perry’s LA mansion.
During Sunday’s bombshell interview with Oprah on CBS, Meghan and Harry showed off the hens they rescued from a factory farm while giving a rare glimpse of their $14.5 million mansion in Montecito
They also offered viewers a glimpse inside ‘Archie’s Chick Inn’ coop, installed for their son who turns two in May
Bianchi, who has kept chickens for 39 years, says she believes she may have helped inspire the trend in the neighborhood
The interior designer revealed she used to give eggs from her coop to her famous neighbor before the TV star decided to get her own
Penny, an interior designer, told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview: ‘I believe I helped inspire this trend for people to have chicken coops in Montecito.
‘I used to give Oprah eggs over the fence and she liked them so much that she decided to get her own chickens.
‘I gave her advice for her chicken coop and she probably passed that advice on Harry and Meghan.
‘A lot of people in Montecito have gotten chickens and when we had mudslides in 2018 the Humane Society looked after 500 people’s chickens until they could get back into their homes.
‘I think that Harry and Meghan got theirs from a factory farm, so they were rescued.
‘Mine are not rescued, I’ve had the same flock for 39 years.’
Penny said she began keeping chickens while living in Pasadena, in Los Angeles, where her friend had a coop.
‘I loved how they looked and I love having them run around and the cock-a-doodle-doo from the roosters, they’re just really fun.
During the sit-down, Meghan claimed she and Harry want to ‘live authentically’ and get back ‘down to basics’ as they build their new lives away from the royals
Meghan finally addressed the couple’s rift with the royal family that ultimately led to their departure last January, almost two years after they tied the knot (left). The Sussexes welcomed their first child , son Archie, in 2019 and are expecting their second later this year
‘Our children and grandchildren loved them, the same way I imagine Archie does now.
‘It’s wonderful to bring children up with chickens.
‘We have 16 right now and we have some hens sitting on eggs, so we’ll have some more.
Penny and her husband moved into a self-designed French farmhouse built from scratch two years before Oprah started living at her 42-acre estate in 2001.
The neighbors bonded over the chickens and Penny was eventually invited to a ‘gospel brunch’ at the talk show host’s mansion which featured a live performance by soul artist Roberta Flack.
Asked what advice she could give Harry and Meghan on their new hobby, she said: ‘The chickens don’t create much mess at all, they’re very easy.
‘We let ours free range during the day and eat all the snails and all the bugs and ticks, then they put themselves in their coop at night.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry shared rare, candid footage of Archie playing on a beach during their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey
Prince Harry and Meghan left the UK for California and relocated in July, 2020 to Montecito, a small and affluent seaside city 100 miles (160 kilometers) up the coast
The Sussexes appear to be surrounded by some of Hollywood’s elite in their new, idyllic neighborhood
‘It’s actually delightful to look outside and see them running around. They’re very decorative and their eggs are delicious.
‘They’re very easy to take care of, you just need to protect them. ‘They need to have a predator-proof coop so that the wildlife can’t get to them.
‘This year we had a bear in our neighborhood, it got in front of Oprah’s gates and was walking right down my lane.
‘We’ve also had mountain lions but mostly it’s bobcats, coyotes and raccoons ‘There’s no keeping a bear out. The bear raided about ten chicken coops in Montecito and there’s no chicken coop which can withstand a bear.
‘The other predators can’t get in them if they’re safe and the wire fencing goes down into the ground so they can’t dig underneath.’
In addition to the bombshell interview, which aired on CBS on Sunday evening, it has been claimed that Oprah has been highly influential in setting Harry and Meghan up in California.
She has been working on a mental health documentary series with Harry and is widely believed to have hooked them up with her close friend Tyler Perry.
It has been claimed that Oprah has been highly involved in setting Harry and Meghan up in California
Oprah lives just 10 minutes away from the royal couple, in a 42-acre estate (pictured) she moved into in 2001
The movie mogul allowed the royal couple to stay at his Beverly Hills mansion and provided security when they first arrived in California from Canada, despite there being no evidence to suggest they had met previously.
Harry and Meghan left that temporary arrangement behind to move just ten minutes away from Oprah in Montecito in July last year.
Penny said: ‘I think that Oprah’s been very supportive and very helpful to Harry and Meghan.
‘She is definitely very involved in their lives right now and helping them to adapt to their new life in California.
‘Oprah has been in Montecito a lot during the pandemic, she practically didn’t leave for eight months.
Penny and her husband moved into a self-designed French farmhouse built from scratch two years before Oprah moved into the area. Pictured: The gates to Oprah’s Montecito property
View of the gate of Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle house in Montecito, California on March 6, 2021. Meghan said it feels ‘liberating’ to be able to speak out about her life in the British royal family
‘She has been doing all her filming over there and her friend Gayle King was staying at the guest house for a while.
‘Oprah’s spent a lot of time here and then a month or so ago she went to her house in Hawaii.’
Asked whether she thought that Oprah had put Harry and Meghan in touch with Tyler Perry, she said: ‘Oprah is very close to Tyler Perry. They’re extremely close friends.
‘I think it’s right that she helped arrange that connection between Harry and Meghan and Tyler Perry.
‘Montecito is very low-key, people here don’t bother celebrities. There’s a whole bunch of them here so nobody bothers them.
‘It’s an idyllic and very small town and it’s got the most beautiful semi-rural atmosphere. The weather is divine.
‘There are lots of people here who could live anywhere in the world, and they choose this.’
Bianchi revealed she and Oprah bonded over the chickens and she was eventually invited to a ‘gospel brunch’ at the talk show host’s mansion