It has been about two years since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex decided to go it on their own financially
How have Prince Harry and Meghan Markle been paying the bills since leaving the British royal family nearly two years ago? We broke down every major deal they’ve made since and their estimated worth.
The couple were back in the spotlight this week for the launch of the 5th annual Invictus Games, the adaptive sports competition for veterans founded by Harry in 2014. This year’s competition is expected to be featured in the upcoming Netflix docuseries about the organization behind the games, titled “Heart of Invictus.”
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The series is the first project to come out of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s overall deal with the streamer — one of several content deals the couple has signed with multiple companies since stepping away from their duties as working royals.
When they departed their service to the queen, Harry and Meghan also took on a host of expenses that were previously picked up by the British government and the royal family, including private security and their Montecito, Calif., mansion. From all the various income sources, the couple look to be earning north of $200 million over the next few years. Here’s a breakdown.
Prince Harry’s inheritances
It’s worth noting that the couple didn’t step away from the royal family with no financial means. During their interview with Oprah Winfrey last year, Harry disclosed that he and Meghan had been using his inheritance from his mother to keep themselves afloat while they established a new life for themselves.
When Princess Diana died, she left each of her sons between £8 million to £10 million (about $10 million to $13 million), Kelly Lynch, editor of The Duchess Diary and royals expert, told TheWrap. He was granted access to that trust fund when he turned 25. Harry also walked away from the family with an inheritance from his great-grandmother, the Queen Mother, that’s estimated to be worth around £25 million ($33 million).
“She set aside more money for Harry than she did for Prince William because Prince William would one day be king, and he would inevitably have more money for himself than Harry would as the spare,” said Lynch, who places Harry’s inheritance at around $40 million. “So Harry does have a lot of money in this new life as a financially independent royal living in America with his wife.”
Meghan’s pre-royalty earnings
Meghan was also doing well for herself as an actress and content creator before she joined the royal family in 2018, having starred in over 100 episodes of the USA legal drama “Suits.” Forbes reported in 2017 that Meghan earned roughly $50,000 per episode.
While she gave up her acting career when she became a member of the royal family, Lynch said she was likely still able to earn royalties from these episodes and keep her money separate from the Crown.
“Meghan is a smart person,” Lynch said. “So my hope and my assumption is that she kept her money separate, and in a nest egg.”
Not long after leaving the family business, the couple signed with the Harry Walker Agency for speaking engagements. The agency also represents heavy hitters like Bill and Hillary Clinton as well as Barack and Michelle Obama. TheWrap has been able to verify about six speaking engagements for Harry and Meghan, both together and individually.
A single speaking appearance could easily earn Harry and Meghan at least $100,000, according to British talent manager Jonathan Shalit OBE.
“The price would be fairly similar, if it’s one or both, depending on what the needs of the organization are,” Shalit said. “But I think, whether it’s him or her, they’re both a draw.”
In December 2020, Harry and Meghan inked an exclusive multiyear deal with Spotify under the couple’s audio banner, Archewell Audio (named with a nod to their first-born son, Archie, who turns 3 next month). Terms of the Spotify agreement weren’t disclosed, though Shalit previously estimated it to be worth as much as $75 million. An individual with knowledge of the deal says this estimate is “completely off,” but declined to provide alternative numbers.
However, that’s likely a long-term payout from the podcasting giant, Shalit noted. In the short term, he said the Sussexes took home about $25 million after signing the deal.
“With bonuses and and repeats and renewals of contracts, they could easily get to [$75 million],” he added.
So far, Meghan and Harry have only released a holiday special through the Spotify deal. In March, audio giant announced that the couple’s next project is a podcast called “Archetypes,” which will “dissect, explore, and subvert the labels that try to hold women back.” It’s expected to be released later this year.
In summer 2020, the couple signed on to produce scripted series, docuseries, documentaries, features and children’s programming with Netflix. The terms of the deal were also not disclosed, though estimates place the payday north of $100 million.
Both Lynch and Shalit agree that the deal is worth well into the nine-figure range. “It seems realistic, only because Netflix just throws down cash like crazy,” Lynch noted.
Once again, Shalit pointed out that the figure is probably an eventual outcome, with bonuses and performance targets, and not the amount that the Sussexes walked away with immediately after signing the deal. That number, he posits, is closer to around $25 million, much like the Spotify deal.
“Heart of Invictus” is currently in production and is the only known project to emerge from the deal so far. Though the 2022 games end on Friday, it’s unclear when the series will hit the streamer.
While their Netflix content mill seems quite dry at the moment, Shalit said that the timeline isn’t all that uncommon. “It’s quite normal for content to take a year to 18 months to come to the surface after the deal is done,” he said. “So don’t think there’s nothing untoward about the length of time it’s taken.”
Last year, Harry took on a new role as chief impact officer at BetterUp Inc., a San Francisco-based startup focused on improving mental health. At the time, the company said Harry wasn’t expected to manage any employees, but would “likely” spend some time at the company’s headquarters once more people are allowed back in the office and make appearances at company events.
The chief impact officer title is common to nonprofits but fairly new in the corporate sector, experts told Marketplace. The role generally deals with implementing high-level change within the organization. “For the people who work for the company, it’s great for morale,” Shalit said of Harry’s hiring. “It’s great for creating a feeling that you’re working for the right company. And externally, a lot of the people who want to do business with them will enjoy having that connection with Prince Harry.”
BetterUp CEO Alexi Robichaux declined to disclose to the Wall Street Journal how much Harry would be compensated. Salaries for similar roles at other companies have been listed between $104,000 to $122,000 per year, according to Marketplace. But given his celebrity, Harry is likely to earn significantly more. “I can only imagine that Harry is making far more than that since he’s so high-profile,” Lynch said.
Meghan is also a published author. Last year, she released “The Bench,” a children’s book inspired by her relationship with Harry and Archie. The book was published through Random House Children.
Harry is right behind her, with a forthcoming memoir with Penguin Random House due to hit shelves in late 2022. It’s the first of a four-book deal that the couple signed together. According to Lynch, this deal is valued between $20 million to $25 million.
The Duke of Sussex previously announced that he had donated $1.5 million from his book deal to Sentebale, a charity he co-founded that supports children and young people in southern Africa.
Representatives for Penguin, BetterUp, Netflix, Spotify, and the Harry Walker Agency didn’t respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Where the money is going?
While the valuations of their post-royal earnings are mere estimates, it’s safe to say that the Sussexes have done well for themselves since parting ways with the Crown. In total, they stand to gain more than $200 million from all of their current deals over time.
“Meghan obviously has a track record of philanthropic and commercial work prior to marrying Harry, so the arena she’s gone into is not new to her,” Shalit said. “She knows the Hollywood community well. She knows how it works. She has a lot of important contacts and relationships. So, she’s re-entering her previous life, I think. They seem in a very positive position, and I think everything bodes well for them.”
Their expenses, however, are also likely in the millions, with a $14.7 million home in Montecito and the need for a 24/7 security detail, Lynch added. “They are no longer getting security with personal protection officers, which are paid for by the British public,” she said. “So, they have a lot of out-of-pocket expenses right now.”