Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expected to amass a billion dollar fortune from Diana’s inheritance, eight-figure deals with TV giants and their Sussex Royal brand following their departure from official royal duties – but taxpayers could still be picking up the couple’s £3million bodyguard bill because of fears they won’t be kept safe in Canada.
The abdication agreement with Her Majesty has cost the Sussexes their HRH titles – but it will allow them ‘complete and absolute’ freedom to secure tie-ups with Silicon Valley giants such as Apple and Netflix or US TV networks while avoiding ‘dodgy’ commercial deals that would upset the Queen.
Experts have claimed that US TV networks could be willing to pay the couple £38million [$50million] book deals, £20million for US TV interviews and £470,000 [$600,000] based on the amounts secured by the Obamas since they left the White House.
And Prince Charles is expected to pay his £2.3million annual payment to his son for at least another year while they set up in Canada, despite the couple having an estimated joint net worth of £34million [$44million].
Harry has his own wealth, including an estimated £20million inheritance from Princess Diana and £7million from the Queen Mother. Meghan is thought to be worth £4million, accumulated mainly from her seven years on Suits.
The couple are predicted to have such incredible earning power they could build a $1billion brand having spent part of 2019 secretly trademarking the Sussex brand on items such as pyjamas, hats and hoodies – but this is expected to be impossible without angering Harry’s grandmother and father.
But despite the Megxit deal being hammered out at the Sandringham summit hosted by the Queen this month, there are still a number of unanswered questions about who will fund the couple once they settle abroad – and how they will make money.
There is a row brewing because the British taxpayer could pick up the couple’s estimated £3million security bill because an American private firm would be ‘woefully ill-equipped’ to protect the high profile couple.
Dai Davies, who led the Metropolitan Police’s royalty protection unit, said: ‘Ultimately I think the British public will still be paying for it.
‘The private security firms simply cannot cope with the professional demands that protecting Harry and Meghan would put on them.
‘By moving abroad they are making it harder to set up adequate protection.’
Buckingham Palace has delayed the final decision over whether to ban the couple’s use of the ‘Sussex Royal’ brand on Instagram and on their personal website until later in the year – but the Queen has warned them not to use it as a trade name in business deals.
A final ruling on what is allowed will be made after further negotiations, but the brand would refer to the couple’s soon-to-be announced charitable foundation and not commercial activities, an insider has said, adding: ‘They have promised they will not bring the Royal Family into disrepute through any dodgy deals’.
Harry and Meghan want to use their Sussex brand to make huge amounts of money for the charities and good causes they support in the UK and around the world – but is inevitable they will become richer themselves.
Aides are said to have warned the couple they could be forced to change the name of their charitable foundation and social media profile if it damages the Royal Family.
But sources have suggested something this ‘extreme’ is unlikely with the couple losing the HRH title, perks and having top pay back the £2.4million of taxpayers’ money spent on Frogmore Cottage.
And with Harry set to fly out to Canada imminently after completing some of his final royal duties, the couple are able to continue building their brand and business opportunities with their Sussex Royal brand intact.
Talent manager Jonathan Shalit, who has struck commercial deals with a host of stars, tweeted last night: ‘Meghan and Harry will become a billion dollar brand’, adding cash would roll in from ‘Fashion and consumer product ranges, endorsements and advertising. Books, TV and film, paid public appearances, company directorships in return for shares.’
He added in an interview with LBC: ‘The Duchess of Sussex is one of the most famous people in the world. The phone is going to be off the hook. Never before has someone that close to the queen been available for commercial opportunity.
‘My guess is [an Oprah Winfrey interview would pay]around $25 million. Imagine how many people are going to watch that. Let’s say it goes out on Apple or Amazon, imagine the advertising around that. The commercial opportunity is extraordinary.
‘The Obamas book deal in the US was around $50m. The real value when it comes to fashion is Meghan. She’s been on the front cover of glossy magazines all over the world. Any brand in the world. It would be phenomenal in terms of her income.
‘You mention wellness, there’s a TV actress in America… Jessica Alba had a company called The Honest Company that’s worth over a billion dollars. [Meghan] could in theory make billions of dollars if she got involved with the right company in terms of being a shareholder.’
Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos said at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in LA yesterday the streaming giant would like to work with Harry and Meghan, adding: ‘Who wouldn’t be interested?’
Harry has also worked with Apple – and US TV networks are ready to work with the Sussexes, who are close to Oprah Winfrey.
Harry and Meghan need an income to replace the estimated £2million a year from the taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant, which supports most senior royals.
It is understood that Charles will pay either via the Duchy of Cornwall, the estate which provides him with private funding, or more likely from his own personal investments from income such as his bequest from the late Queen Mother. Palace sources insist no public funds will be used.
Although an abdication deal was announced on Saturday following days of discussions at Sandringham, the question of who will pay for Harry and Meghan’s security once they split their time between the UK and Canada has yet to be answered.
Currently their bodyguards cost around £1million-a-year – but experts claim this could reach £3million if they spend most of their time in Canada.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had intimated that his country would pick up some of the expense – but a poll of 1,154 Canadian adults found last week that 73 per cent do not want their government to pay for the couple’s security costs.
The Queen and Prince Charles decided not to strip Prince Harry of their HRH titles and Duke and Duchess of Sussex rank to avoid looking ‘petty’, it was claimed today.
Her Majesty is said to have considered stripping the couple of their most prized titles and instead referring to them as the Earl and Countess of Dumbarton – putting them at the same level as Edward and Sophie, Earl and Countess of Wessex.
However, the Queen and Prince Charles are believed to have felt preventing the couple from using ‘HRH’ in public and for commercial use – while still officially retaining the title – was a sufficient enough change.
A source told the Evening Standard: ‘The Sussex title is one of the ancient royal dukedoms given to him ahead of his wedding to Meghan, along with other titles. Removing it was seriously considered and discussed at the highest level.’
As part of their independence deal agreed by the Queen, they will keep their HRH titles but will not use them once they cease to be working royals.
They will not be addressed as His or Her Royal Highness, but will be Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.
Their decision to step back from royal duties had led to speculation they could be stripped of their HRH titles, and may no longer be able to use Sussex Royal.
But a source said such a move was considered too extreme, and could have been problematic for the Royal Family in the future.
Had Harry and Meghan been stripped of their titles completely, they would have been considered junior to other members of the family, such as Prince Andrew’s daughters Beatrice and Eugenie. That could have led to the embarrassing prospect of Meghan having to curtsey to the princesses.
The HRH title was taken from Harry’s mother Diana and his aunt Sarah Ferguson after they divorced, but he was born a royal, so the Queen would have had to issue a Letters Patent to remove it.
Applications have already been made to trademark the Sussex Royal brand, which is at the centre of the couple’s social media presence, including their website and Twitter and Instagram accounts. They will be free to make commercial deals without the involvement of Buckingham Palace, but aides have insisted such arrangements will be ‘respectful’ of the Queen.
The source close to the couple said: ‘There are still a lot of details to be worked out, but if it’s the use of the word ‘royal’ in a charitable sense, then what is the problem?’
They have not yet signed any contracts and have agreed not to become brand ambassadors for any big companies. Instead, they are expected to seek commercial deals that complement causes close to their charitable interests.
Harry has signed up as co-creator and executive producer on an Apple TV documentary on mental health with US broadcaster Oprah Winfrey, due to be screened this year. He is understood to have asked for his fee to be donated to mental health organisations.
Meghan has also agreed to provide a voiceover for a Disney film in exchange for a donation to a conservation charity.
In future, they could be paid for such agreements, although they will inevitably face accusations that they are cashing in on Harry’s royal background. Meghan’s father Thomas Markle has already voiced concerns that they will ‘cheapen’ the Royal Family.
In a documentary for Channel 5, Mr Markle will say his daughter had lived every girl’s princess dream when she married Harry.
But he added: ‘Now… it looks like she’s tossing that away for money. Apparently $3million and a 26-bedroom home isn’t enough for them. It’s kind of embarrassing to me. This is like one of the greatest long-living institutions ever. They are destroying it… cheapening it, making it shabby… turning it into a Walmart with a crown on it.’
Harry and Meghan need an income to replace the estimated £2million a year from the taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant, which supports the most senior royals.
Prince Charles is expected to support Harry financially for at least a year. Harry also has his own wealth, including an estimated £20million inheritance from Princess Diana and £7million from the Queen Mother. Meghan is thought to be worth £4million.