Can ex-royals Harry, Meghan achieve financial independence?

How Harry and Meghan Might Become Financially Independent

Can ex-royals Harry, Meghan achieve financial independence?

Questions abound over how Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex will achieve financial independence in the wake of their announcement that they will be stepping back from Britain’s royal family.

In a statement shared on their official Instagram page on Jan. 8, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said that, as they transition away from their role as “senior” royals, they plan to “work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.”

The couple will officially halt their duties as royals at some time this spring.

Queen Elizabeth II announced her support for the couple’s decision in a statement on Jan. 13. “Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives. It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK.”

In the statement, the Queen also said that these “complex matters” require further discussions, but that she has “asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.”

Prince Harry spoke publicly on the matter for the first time Sunday night.

“I’ve accepted this knowing that it doesn’t change who I am or how committed I am,” he said of the decision to step back as senior members.

“But I hope that helps you understand what it had come to—that I would step my family back from all I have ever known to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life.”

With no real precedent of a working royal stepping back in quite this way, it remains unclear how Harry and Meghan’s plan will be successful or where their money will come from going forward.

However, while “senior” royals are prohibited from earning any income in any form, as the Sussexes have made clear on their website, there are current members of the British royal family who both hold titles and earn incomes.

“Yes, there is precedent for this structure and it applies to other current members of the Royal Family who support the monarch and also have full time jobs external to their commitment to the monarchy,” the couple notes on their website. And it’s true, Harry’s cousins Princess Beatrice of York and Princess Eugenie, Meghan and Harry wouldn’t be the first royals to take on work outside the scope of their royal responsibilities.

But for right now, according to historian and British royals expert Marlene Koenig, the short answer to the question of Harry and Meghan’s finances is that pretty much everything is still up in the air.

Here’s everything we know about Meghan and Harry’s financial situation to date and how they could become financially independent going forward.

What funds are Harry and Meghan giving up?

As “senior” royals, Harry and Meghan receive funding through the Sovereign Grant, a portion of the taxpayer money derived annually from the revenue of the Crown Estate that goes toward the work of the royal family in support of the Queen. But while Harry and Meghan were granted the titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the day of their wedding in May 2018, they didn’t start receiving this publicly funded allowance from the Queen until 2019, according to People.

To become financially independent, the Sussexes have stated that they will release themselves from the Sovereign Grant. However, the couple says the grant covers only 5% of their costs and is just used for official office expenses the refurbishment of their official residence, Frogmore Cottage.

“This phased approach will take time to transition in consultation with other senior members of the Royal Family, but Their Royal Highnesses are hopeful that this change is in the best interest for all and look forward to carrying out their duties to the monarch as well as their charitable work with financial autonomy,” their website reads.

Where has their money come from up to now?

In addition to the money they get through the Sovereign Grant, Harry and Meghan receive provisions through the Duchy of Cornwall (a private estate managed by the current Duke of Cornwall, Prince Charles, that profits off Waitrose Duchy Organic, a £200 million-organic food business) that amount to about 95% of their office’s funding, according to their website.

In 2018, Charles’s public accounting statements showed the income he received from the Duchy of Cornwall to be over £21 million.

However, while Harry and Meghan didn’t address the portion of the Duchy of Cornwall allocated to them annually in their statement, Koenig tells TIME that it “seems a bit presumptuous of them” to assume they will continue to receive that same amount “because that’s up to Charles.”

Koenig says that it’s also important to consider that when Charles ascends the throne and Prince William becomes the new Duke of Cornwall, funding from the Duchy of Cornwall will no longer be available to Harry as it will be reserved for William’s family. Historically, the male heir apparent — i.e., William once Charles is crowned king — is the one to reap the financial benefits of being the figurehead of the Duchy.

As far as other sources of funding go, Koenig also notes that Harry and William are both recipients of an inheritance from their mother, Princess Diana, that totaled around £21 million at the time of her death in 1997, while Meghan is estimated to have a net worth of about $5 million on her own, according to a Money report in May 2019.

How could Harry and Meghan earn money going forward?

Although Harry and Meghan are prohibited from earning their own incomes as “senior” royals, their website states that part of the reason they’ve decided on this new working model is because they “value the ability to earn a professional income” while remaining committed to “continuing their charitable endeavors as well as establishing new ones.”

But exactly how they plan to go about doing that is unknown. Koenig tells TIME that it could become a matter of the Sussexes “selling access” to themselves many celebrities do — despite the fact that she says the practice of royals using their names to profit commercially has traditionally been “frowned upon.”

“Basically, members of the royal family aren’t supposed to use their titles for any financial compensation,” she says.

Of course, thanks to her acting career, Meghan was already a celebrity in her own right prior to her 2017 engagement to Prince Harry. The couple’s foundation also submitted a trademark application for the name “Sussex Royal” in June that covers over 100 goods and services, including T-shirts, caps and mugs, and could allow them to profit off their strong personal brand.

Koenig offers the lifestyle of the Queen’s first cousin, Prince Michael of Kent and his wife, Marie Christine, Princess Michael of Kent, as a lower-profile example of how the Sussexes could continue to play a role in royal affairs while maintaining some independence.

Prince and Princess Michael of Kent are not working royals and do not receive public funding, but attend royal events the Trooping of the Colour and family weddings and sometimes take on public duties to represent the Queen.

In exchange for these royal engagements and work for various charities “undertaken at their own expense,” according to Kensington Palace officials, the Queen uses her own private funds to pay the rent for their Kensington apartment.

But Prince and Princess Michael of Kent also make their own money through means directorship fees and book royalties. “On a higher level that includes humanitarian projects and the , is this what we’re going to see from the Sussexes?” Koenig posits.

Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, who both have full-time jobs — Beatrice is a strategist at a technology firm called Afiniti while Eugenie is the director of the London art gallery Hauser & Wirth — are also examples of royals who have taken on more traditional work.

By any means, there’s still much to be determined about how Harry and Meghan’s financial independence could come to fruition.

“These are things that are all going to be worked out in these meetings they’re starting to have,” Koenig says.

How would a move to North America affect things?

In their Jan. 8 statement, Harry and Meghan announced that they would begin splitting their time between the U.K. and North America in 2020.

Less than two days later, Meghan returned to Canada to be with their young son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, who had remained in the country with Markle’s close friend, Jessica Mulroney, according to People, when the Sussexes flew back to the U.K. after spending “extended family time” in the Great White North over the 2019 holiday season.

But if Harry and Meghan decide to establish a permanent residence in Canada, it begs the question of whether the country, a member state of the Commonwealth of Nations (formerly known as the British Commonwealth) of which Queen Elizabeth II is head, will be responsible for expenses staff, accommodations, travel and security for them.

For example, the cost of Harry and Meghan’s private security detail in the U.K. is currently covered by the government as mandated by the British Home Office. But if they were to move to Canada, their royal status would ly obligate the Canadian government to provide them with security, Reuters reports.

“I don’t believe they can refuse the government of Canada’s security,” Larry Busch, a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer who directed security for U.S. presidents and royals, told Reuters. In turn, this would make Canadian taxpayers responsible for millions of dollars a year in security expenses.

How much and which of their expenses both the British government, and potentially, the Canadian government, would be responsible for moving forward is ly one of the issues on the table.

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‘She found out she would be a civil servant in a tiara.’ Even without HRH titles, Meghan and Harry’s #Megxit will make them rich beyond their wildest dreams

Can ex-royals Harry, Meghan achieve financial independence?

It’s been said that behind every great man is a great woman. In Prince Harry’s case, it’s three wealthy and media-savvy women.

On Saturday, Buckingham Palace announced a deal had been reached for Harry and Meghan Markle to relinquish their official duties as members of the British royal family. They have agreed not to use “His/Her Royal Highness,” and will repay the state the costs of renovating their U.K. base, Frogmore Cottage. But they’re now free to pursue their own business opportunities overseas.

In a statement, Queen Elizabeth said she was proud of how quickly Meghan had become one of the family, adding: “Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family.”

“ Netflix would give the Sussexes a platform of 158 million paid subscribers and be a coup for the streaming service. ”

Last week, the couple announced they “work to become financially independent” and live between U.K. and North America. Free from the ribbon-cutting duties of royal life, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on the brink of becoming a global-media power couple, with or without their royal titles. Their Instagram , +0.10% account has 10.9 million followers, adding 700,000 in one week.

Pearson said that the couple — stripped of their ability to use HRH on their website and products — will do their best to leverage their fame and royal connections in the U.S. to build a personal brand “much Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, and as Markle previously did with TIG.” (Forbes recently named reality TV star Kylie Jenner, 22, the youngest self-made billionaire ever.)

Harry receives an income from his father Prince Charles. Harry, who is already worth several million dollars, owes his fortune to three famous women: his mother, the late Princess Diana, who became a global superstar; his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, who steered the royals into the 20th and 21s Centuries, and his wife, Meghan Markle, an American-born self-made former actress.

Also see: Queen Elizabeth’s statement on Harry and Meghan: ‘We would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the royal family’

Multiple newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph in the U.K., have reported that the queen was “disappointed” with the surprise announcement, and had asked the Sussexes to hold off on issuing a statement. When The Sun newspaper published a front-page story that the couple was contemplating a move to Canada, the Sussexes pushed the button on their statement.

Questions now linger over whether they will qualify for armed security if they live in Canada, a member of the British Commonwealth, or the U.S. Markle previously lived in Toronto, where she still has a home, and Los Angeles. Their HRH titles would certainly have burnished their personal brands and commercial appeal, but they will remain the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Netflix says it’s open to talks with the Sussexes

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said he would be interested in speaking to the Sussexes about working together.

Speaking at an event in Los Angeles over the weekend, he told the Press Association: “Who wouldn’t be interested? Yes, sure.

” Harry and Meghan will no longer be working members of the royal family after April, and will split their time between the U.K. and North America.

Harry is friends with former U.S. president Barack Obama, and will consider adopting the Obamas’ post-White House career model, some royal observers say. Barack and Michelle Obama reportedly signed an eight-figure deal with Netflix NFLX, -0.99%  to produce high-brow historical, biographical and social-justice programming with their company, Higher Ground Productions.

“ ‘One of the reasons they broke off from the royals is, in part, because they want to build their own brand.’ ”

— —Ashley Pearson, an American-born writer based in London

Netflix would give the Sussexes a platform of 158 million paid subscribers and be a coup for the streaming service, which won critical praise for, “The Crown,” chronicling the life of Queen Elizabeth. (Netflix did not respond to request for comment.) Harry has already participated in a documentary on mental health with Oprah Winfrey, a friend of the couple, for Apple TV AAPL, -1.26%.

The media mogul responded to reports that she had helped the Sussexes navigate and negotiate their #Megxit — as the royal scandal has been described in the U.K. press, a riff on #Brexit, the U.K.’s protracted exit from the European Union. “Meg and Harry do not need my help figuring out what is best for them,” Oprah said in a statement, according to The New York Post.

Ashley Pearson, an American-born writer based in London who has been a royal commentator for two decades, said their powerful political and media connections will serve them well.

She sees them leveraging their circle of boldfaced names: “Their kind of lifestyle costs a fortune.

However, one of the reasons they broke off from the royals is, in part, because they want to build their own brand.”

“ ‘You know she does voiceovers? You seem surprised. But, yeah, she’s really interested.’ ”

— —Prince Harry speaking to Disney CEO Bob Iger at the opening of ‘The Lion King’ in London in July 2019.

Pearson believes Markle is the driving force to break free from the House of Windsor, suggesting that — despite the privileges of royal life — the negative press coverage was too much to bear. “She had no idea how un-glamorous it really is to be a royal and, when she found out she would be a civil servant in a tiara she was, , ‘No way.’” The couple’s website is similar in tone to

The Sussexes have already cut their teeth in broadcast media. In 2017, Harry interviewed Barack Obama when he was the guest editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today program and, last year, ITV in the U.K. broadcast “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey,” which aired in the U.S. on ABC DIS, -1.90% Another route: The Obamas reportedly inked a book deal for more than $65 million.

In a recently resurfaced video, as Meghan greeted Beyonce and Jay Z in a line at the opening of the movie “The Lion King” in London last July, Prince Harry told Disney chairman and chief executive Bob Iger, “You know she does voiceovers?” Iger responded, “Oh, really? Ah, I did not know that,” and laughed. Harry responded, “You seem surprised. But, yeah, she’s really interested.”

Netflix is broadly unchanged at $339.7 over the last 12 months. However, Disney rose by 30% to $144.5 and Apple is up 103% at $318.5 over the same period, both outperforming the overall market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.51%  is up 18.8% at 29,348.10 over the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.53%  increased 24.7% at 3,329.62.

Meghan Markle was already a self-made millionaire

While the couple’s break for the border releases them from the drab ribbon-cutting, handshaking daily duties of royal life in the U.K., and should better shield themselves from the jaundiced coverage they have received at the hands of the British tabloids, their bid for financial independence is somewhat more complicated and will not require them to take up full-time jobs.

For a start, they will keep their U.K. base, Frogmore Cottage, their historic Grade II-listed house in Windsor, which was renovated for 2.4 British pounds ($3 million) by the British taxpayer. They have already built a strong royal/celebrity personal brand, breaking the traditional mold of the royal family. Their 2018 wedding was an unusual mixture of Hollywood and English aristocracy.

“ ‘Harry & Meghan: An African Journey’ aired in the U.S. on ABC and was sold to several networks around the world. ”

Harry, 35, on the other hand, inherited a sizable fortune after the death of his mother. He inherited approximately 7 million British pounds ($9.2 million) from his mother’s estate, the BBC estimated. His father's side of the family is far richer — worth more than $88 billion, according to Forbes — including investments, properties, castles and land.

Harry, 35, on the other hand, inherited a sizable fortune after the death of his mother. He inherited approximately 7 million British pounds ($9.2 million) from his mother’s estate, the BBC estimated. His father's side of the family is far richer — worth more than $88 billion, according to Forbes — including investments, properties, castles and land.

To be fair, Harry also reportedly earned an annual salary of $45,000 when he served as an officer in the Army Air Corps and approximately $52,000 a year while working as a helicopter pilot for the Army Air Corps, according to separate estimates by Forbes and Fortune magazines publicly available figures for salaries in the U.K. army.

Harry also has had a military career on the front lines. “Prince Harry served in the Army for ten years, rising to the rank of Captain and undertaking two tours of Afghanistan,” according to Buckingham Palace. “He continues to work in support of his fellow servicemen, promoting support for wounded men and women as they adapt to life post-injury.”

Also see: This entrepreneur landed funding from a male venture capitalist — but she told him to take a hike after he texted her nude selfies

The Sussexes rely on Prince Charles — first in line to the British throne — for approximately 95% of their income. Prince Charles earns $23 million a year from the Duchy of Cornwall, a private estate with more than $1.3 billion in assets. The Duchy’s financial accounts reveal a total income for fiscal 2017 of 37.2 million British pounds ($48.7 million), up 2.5% on the previous year.

Choosing Toronto or Vancouver as their overseas residence may make more financial sense than, say, L.A. or New York. In Canada, they are close enough to the U.S. without becoming embroiled in complex web of American tax law. Canada, for instance, does not impose a capital gains tax for homes that increase in value.

Markle lived there while filming “Suits,” and the couple spent the holidays in Canada, reportedly at a waterfront mansion on Vancouver Island. As Canada is part of the U.K. Commonwealth, it may be required to pay for security for the couple and their son, Archie. (Of possible interest for other couples moving there: Canadian divorce law generally splits all new marital wealth equally.)

They will hope to take control of their public brand

Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana — who died at 36 in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while being pursued by photographers — had long battled the relentless, prying eyes of the British red tops, which dissected her every move in the years following her 1981 marriage to Prince Charles, and 1996 divorce. She had reportedly long dreamed of starting a new life in the U.S. 

In a widely circulated article, Ellie Hall, a Buzzfeed reporter, compared “Kate’s morning sickness cure? Prince William gifted with an avocado for pregnant Duchess” with “Meghan Markle’s beloved avocado linked to human rights abuse and drought, millennial shame,” in the Express. The contrasting headlines appeared in the same papers and, sometimes, with the same bylines.

“ Princess Diana, who died in a car crash in 1997, had reportedly long said she dreamed of starting anew overseas.  ”

Two more appearing in the Daily Mail went thus, Hall reported. “Kate and Wills Inc: Duke and Duchess secretly set up companies to protect their brand — just the Beckhams” and, “A right royal cash in! How Prince Harry and Meghan Markle trademarked over 100 items from hoodies to socks SIX MONTHS before split with monarchy — with new empire worth up to £400m.”

Markle flew back to Canada earlier this month amid reports she was driven out by, among other things, press coverage regarded as both overtly and covertly racist. Highlighting 20 headlines, Buzzfeed pointed to the different standards used to report on Kate Middleton — wife of Prince William, second in line to the British throne — and Markle, from child-rearing to eating avocado.

Markle acknowledged that she had a difficult time adapting to life with the often critical media attention in the U.K. “I’ve really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip.

I’ve tried, I’ve really tried, I think that what that does internally is probably really damaging,” she said.

“The biggest thing that I know is that I never thought this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair.”

The Queen acknowledged the difficulties in her statement Saturday: “I recognize the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life,” her statement read, adding, “It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life.”

There appears to push back from Harry’s circle to the avalanche of press in the U.K. criticizing the couple’s decision. Writing in “The Sunday Times,” Tom Bradby, a friend of Harry’s who directed a documentary about the couple in Africa last year, said Buckingham Palace “claimed” to be blindsided by the couple’s announcement, but Bradby threw doubt on the palace line.

Bradby wrote that Harry was asked by senior members of the royal family to write a plan to move away. “He was reluctant, on the grounds that such documents normally leak,” Bradby wrote in a 1,600-word essay, “Escape from the poisonous palace.” “He was persuaded and did as he was asked.” (Buckingham Palace did not respond to a request for comment from MarketWatch.)

“The document, or its details, was shortly afterwards leaked to The Sun,” Bradby added. He said the Sussexes had long faced unpleasantness from the family, saying some members were “jealous and, at times, unfriendly,” although excluded Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh from that assessment. “The fallout began at the time of the wedding in 2018.”

Speaking to Bradby for his documentary last year, she thanked him for asking how she was, and said not many people had asked if she were OK. In his essay Sunday, Bradby wrote that some members of the family (with the exception of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh) were jealous and, at times, unfriendly: “Really damaging things were said and done. The atmosphere soured hard and early.”

(This story was originally published on Jan. 8 and was updated on Jan. 19.)


How have Meghan Markle and Prince Harry become financially independent?

Can ex-royals Harry, Meghan achieve financial independence?

One of the reasons Prince Harry and Meghan Markle decided to quit as working members of the Royal Family is that they hoped to achieve ‘financial independence’.

In a January 2020 statement, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their intention to stop receiving funds from British taxpayers – as the Royal Family do for their duties – and start earning their own income.

It read: ‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex take great pride in their work and are committed to continuing their charitable endeavours as well as establishing new ones.

‘In addition, they value the ability to earn a professional income, which in the current structure they are prohibited from doing.

‘For this reason they have made the choice to become members of the Royal Family with financial independence.’

At the time, it appeared the couple’s hope was to continue carrying out duties on behalf of The Queen while achieving this goal.

But plenty has changed in just over a year. The duo have been stripped of all remaining royal patronages and are due to speak to Oprah in a CBS special about their new life.

So, are Meghan and Harry finally financially independent? And what does that mean?

Are Prince Harry and Meghan Markle now financially independent?

The couple are now reportedly financially independent from the Royal Family.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were previously receiving 5% of their income from the Sovereign Grant – which is funded by the taxpayer.

As of their 2020 split with the Royal Family, they no longer receive this official contribution.

In January 2020, they also expressed their intention to pay back the Sovereign Grant for the £2.4 million refurbishment of their UK home, Frogmore Cottage in Windsor.

In September 2020, this intention was fulfilled. An official statement said: ‘A contribution has been made to the Sovereign Grant by The Duke of Sussex.

‘This contribution as originally offered by Prince Harry has fully covered the necessary renovation costs of Frogmore Cottage, a property of Her Majesty The Queen, and will remain the UK residence of The Duke and his family.’

So, they no longer receive any taxpayer money.

When they were working royals, 95% of the funding for Harry and Meghan’s office came from income allocated by Charles, Prince of Wales – generated through his private estate, the Duchy of Cornwall.

Newsweek reported in September 2020 that Prince Charles was no longer funding the couple with the Duchy of Cornwall.

Therefore, it seems the couple have achieved their financial aim, thanks to savvy business deals with Spotify and Netflix.

What work will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle do to achieve financial independence?

It is understood the Duke and Duchess of Sussex won’t receive any money for their Oprah With Meghan And Harry special.

An Oprah rep told Page Six: ‘A spokeswoman for the Oprah Winfrey Network confirmed that the couple won’t be collecting a pay cheque and said that no donations are being made to their charity.’

But the couple have taken on a variety of projects since cutting ties with ‘The Firm’.

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Most notable is their Archewell Foundation – however this is a not-for-profit, charitable organisation.

Classed as a ‘501(c)(3) organisation’, the IRS (US taxman) website states the organisation is exempt from paying federal income tax as ‘none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual’.

Normally, non-profit organisations pump any earnings they incur back into the work itself. So, the couple won’t receive any profits from this venture.

However, there are also the Archewell Audio and Archewell Productions umbrellas of the organisation – which appear, their website, to be separate entities under the same branding.

Archewell Audio’s Spotify deal was said to be worth £30 million for a multi-year contract.

As for Archewell Productions’ Netflix deal – an exact figure has yet to emerge.

It’s also believed the couple brought personal wealth into their newly-independent lives.

Meghan, who starred in seven series of TV legal drama Suits, was earning – according to Fortune in 2017 – a reported $450,000 (£326,000) a year for her work on the show.

It’s not currently known whether she receives any royalties for reruns and streaming, either.

Currently, the couple are living with son Archie in California, where they have purchased a $14.7 million (£10.6 million) Montecito mansion.

MORE : Meghan claims Palace banned her from talking to Oprah before royal wedding

MORE : How can I watch Harry and Meghan Markle’s Oprah interview in the UK?

MORE : Meghan Markle reveals why she’s ready to talk

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