It's been a year of change and transformation for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. In January, the couple announced their decision to step down as senior members of the royal family, eventually relocating to Santa Barbara, California, with their now-1-year-old son, Archie, amid the coronavirus pandemic. After buying a home in the exclusive Montecito neighborhood, ET has learned that the family has been getting settled.
"They are, I'm told, beginning to explore their neighborhood," royal expert Katie Nicholl tells ET. "They have ventured out and they've been spotted out and about."
Though the couple are exploring their new area, they are keen to protect their family's privacy.
"They are keeping a low profile. They are very aware of the paparazzi," Nicholl adds. "They are determined not to be photographed and particularly for Archie not to be photographed by the paparazzi, so don't expect to see them necessarily out at the beaches near by."
One of the couple's favorite California pastimes is visiting a beloved fast food chain.
"They often stop at the In-N-Out Burger much to the astonishment of the staff who serve them," Nicholl reveals. "Anyone who knows Prince Harry knows he loves a good burger. He's a fan of fast food so it doesn't surprise me at all that he stops there."
Though the couple originally claimed to want to split their time between North America and the United Kingdom, the coronavirus pandemic has kept them from traveling back to England.
"They will come back to the U.K., of course, they will want to see Harry's family over here," Nicholl says. "I can see them coming back and spending part of the summer holiday over here... possibly alternating Christmases, but I don't think they're going to be dividing their time. I think they have made their new life in America and that is where they are going to spend a majority of their time from now on."
One U.K. date that's definitely on the travel books for the family is the July 2021 unveiling of the statue of Princess Diana in Kensington Palace's Sunken Garden.
"I'm told by sources very close to Harry and Meghan that they will absolutely be here for that unveiling, and it will be a very important day for Harry, for the family, and you will certainly see the brothers coming together for that occasion," Nicholl confirms of Harry and Prince William reuniting. "But that won't be the first time I'm sure we will see them come together, but for the time being, all plans are up in the air."
As for the relationship between Harry and William, things are looking up for the siblings.
"The brothers spoke on Harry's birthday," Nicholl says of Harry's 36th birthday earlier this week. " It's no secret that it's been a rocky path between the two brothers, but I actually think the distance has been a good thing for them. They are speaking more than they did before. They are getting along much better than they were several months ago, so I think the signs are all very positive. I think it will be some time before we see them having possibly a cozy Christmas together, but I think things are definitely better than they were."
For more from Harry's birthday celebrations, watch the clip below.