How #Megxit Will Make Meghan and Harry Rich Beyond Their Wildest Dreams
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.
The Sussexes announced Wednesday they “work to become financially independent” and split their time between the U.K. and North America. Free from the ribbon-cutting duties of royal life, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are on the brink of becoming a new kind of global-media power couple. Their Instagram FB, -0.11% account already has 10.5 million followers, adding 300,000 followers in less than a week.
Netflix would give the Sussexes a platform of 158 million paid subscribers and be a coup for the streaming service.
Prince Harry receives an income from his father Prince Charles, and he is expected to hash out with his father exactly how long that income will last. Prince Harry, who is already worth several million dollars, owes his fortune to three famous women: his mother, the late Princess Diana; his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, and his wife, Meghan Markle, an American-born self-made former actress.
Markle flew back to Canada Thursday to be with her son Archie. Prince Harry has stayed behind for crisis talks with Prince Charles, and grandmother, Queen Elizabeth. 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.
Questions linger over whether they will qualify for armed security if they live in Canada, a member of the British Commonwealth, and/or the U.S. Markle has lived in Toronto, where she still has a home, and Los Angeles. Whether they keep their HRH titles is also not a given, especially given that royal titles would certainly burnish their own personal brands and commercial appeal.
Prince 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, -1.97% to produce high-brow historical, biographical and social-justice programming with their company, Higher Ground Productions.
Netflix would give the Sussexes a platform of 158 million paid subscribers and certainly be a coup for the streaming service, which won critical praise for its series, “The Crown,” chronicling the life of Queen Elizabeth. (Netflix was not immediately available for comment.) Oprah Winfrey is another powerful friend of the couple and attended their May 2018 wedding.
The media mogul this week responded to reports that she had helped the royal couple navigate and negotiate their #Megxit, as the royal scandal has been described in the U.K. press, some of which had reported on Markle with negative racial undertones. “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.”
Pearson alleges that Markle is behind their strategy to strike out on their own. “She would rather be a celebrity than a royal,” Pearson said. “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, like, ‘No way.’” The couple unveiled a sleek, new website, which is not so different from the pitch and tone of Obama.org.
‘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
The royal couple have cut their teeth in broadcast media. In 2017, Prince 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, -0.14% Another route: The Obamas reportedly inked a book deal for more than $65 million.
While the couple will likely gain not a small degree of freedom from the drab ribbon-cutting, handshaking daily duties of royal life in the U.K., and better shield themselves from the jaundiced coverage the couple 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 the grounds of Frogmore House in Windsor, which was renovated for 2.4 British pounds ($3 million), a cost shouldered by the U.K. taxpayer. They will also likely to have a paid security detail. They have built a strong royal/celebrity personal brand, breaking the traditional mold of the royal family.
Achieving financial independence is a status that Markle, 38, can more legitimately claim to have achieved on her own. She has a reported net worth of $6.5 million (5 million British pounds) from her work on the USA Network legal drama “Suits.” Like many former television and film stars, Markle will likely also receive residuals from her seven seasons on that show.
Prince 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 & Meghan: An African Journey’ aired in the U.S. on ABC and was sold to several networks around the world.
To be fair, Prince 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 based on publicly available figures for salaries in the U.K. army.
The Sussexes rely on Prince Harry’s father, Prince Charles — first in line to the British throne — for the lion’s share of their income. Prince Charles earns $23 million 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.
Pearson said Markle struggled to adapt to royal protocol. The Sussexes will no longer be part of the “royal rota,” giving media access to royal appearances. “Much like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, and as Markle previously did with TIG, their personal brand could be worth billions and they know it.” (Forbes recently named reality TV star Kylie Jenner, 22, the youngest self-made billionaire ever.)
Princess Diana, who died in a car crash in 1997, had reportedly long dreamed of starting a new life in the U.S.
It had been rumored the couple were contemplating a move to Canada. Markle lived there while filming “Suits,” and the couple spent Christmas and New Year’s 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, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Prince 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.
Markle told their ITV documentary last year 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.”