With only a few days since their return from the six-week break, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shocked the world with their decision to step away from their royal duties. In the statement, the couple emphasizes how they want to divide their time between the UK and the US, especially as their firstborn baby Archie is growing up. They also said that they wanted to become financially independent, so the question is, how will they do it?
The royal couple might follow in the footsteps of post-White House Obamas’, by continuing their work through book deals, Netflix documentaries and philanthropy.
Now that they will be free from doing meaningless engagements and attending high-end galas, both Harry and Meghan will have time to focus on other things. The couple on their own already have a pretty big fanbase, with their Instagram account having over 10.2 million followers. So they already have an audience for whatever they decide to make.
With Meghan’s previous work being in entertainment, with her being an actress way before she ever became a royal, some are speculating that the two might take a shot at that. Prince Harry is a close friend of former US president Barack Obama, and he might take a note or two from him. After his two terms in the White House, Barack and his wife Michelle, reportedly signed an eight-figure deal with Netflix to produce a slate of high-brow historical, biographical and social-justice programming with their company, Higher Ground Productions.
Netflix would give the Sussex a platform with 158 million paid subscribers, while the Sussex would certainly boost the viewership on the platform, as royal dramas; e.g. “The Crown” which chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth, won a critical prize and was a huge hit among viewers.
It would certainly be easy for the couple to break through on entertainment platforms, as they have friends such as media mogul Oprah Winfrey, which will certainly help.
Ashley Pearson, an American-born writer based in London, said their powerful political and media connections will serve them well as they embark on their new life. She sees them taking lessons from their wide 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 unglamorous 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.’” Just as they left, the two unveiled their new website, much akin to Obama.org, which shows what they plan to do in the future, their projects and how they will still support the Crown.
This won’t be unfamiliar waters for the royals, as back 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. Another option for them is a book deal, as we are sure they have things to say, both individually and as a couple. For example, Obama’s book deal is reported to have 65 million dollars attached to it.
By removing themselves from royal duties and the spotlight that is put on the royal family, Meghan and Harry will allow themselves more freedom, both in projects they choose to work with and with events they attend. Their journey towards financial independence is a bit more tricky though.
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 mould of the royal family.
Achieving financial independence is something Meghan, on her own, should more easily reach. The former-actress 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.
Harry, on the other hand, inherited a decent amount after his mother died. 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.
Not to say that he hasn’t worked a day in his life, as the Prince worked as both an officer in the Army Air Corps, as well as a helicopter pilot, earning an annual salary of $45,000 when he served as an officer and approximately $52,000 a year while working as a pilot, according to separate estimates by Forbes and Fortune magazines based on publicly available figures for salaries in the U.K. army.
Even if it all fails, it’s not like they don’t have a pretty sizeable Plan B. Prince Harry’s father, Prince Charles — first in line to the British throne — earns nearly $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 the financial year ending March 31, 2017, of 37.2 million British pounds ($48.7 million), up 2.5% on the previous year.
Markle has had trouble adapting to royal protocol ever since joining the royal family, but now with them no longer being part of the “royal rota” will give her more freedom on when and what kind of media she appears on. “Much like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, and as Markle previously did with TIG, their personal brand could be worth billions and they know it.”
There has been some speculation that the family-of-three have thought of moving to Canada, a country familiar to Meghan, as she lived there for years as she filmed her TV drama “Suits”. The couple also spent the festive period there, 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. This might be the perfect getaway for them.
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.”