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The wealth they left behind

While the British royal family has their own personal wealth — Forbes estimates the family holds $28 billion in assets that can’t be sold and there’s also the $500 million estate the late Queen Elizabeth left behind — they don’t pay out of pocket to perform their royal duties.

Instead, they rely on an annual, taxpayer-funded payment called the Sovereign Grant, which is derived from a percentage of the profits coming from the Crown Estate. The rest of that profit is turned over to the government.

The grant funds official royal expenses like property upkeep and utilities, travel and payroll. In the 2021-22 tax year, the Sovereign Grant amounted to over $103 million, according to the Royal Household’s financial statement.

So, having left that powerful financial support behind, where exactly will Harry and Meghan feel the loss most acutely?

According to the Institute for Government, one of the largest public costs for the royals is security. These arrangements aren’t publicly disclosed, but Forbes estimated in 2021 that such services for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex could cost up to $3 million per year.

Now on their own, Harry and Meghan can’t rely on the royal coffers to fund their safety and travel — but they’re far from destitute.

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Meghan and Harry’s financial autonomy

Before striking out on their own, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were largely supported by funds from the Duchy of Cornwall, a valuable estate that provides funds for the oldest son of the British monarch. In 2020, Forbes estimated that the couple’s loss amounted to $3 million a year, in addition to their security costs.

Forbes also confirmed that Harry was not a beneficiary of his great-grandmother the Queen Mother’s $100 million fortune.

That means that when they made the decision to step back from their roles as senior working royals, Harry and Meghan were left with a meager sum of $10 million (estimated by Forbes), largely made up of the inheritance from Harry’s late mother’s estate.

Of that number, $5 million reportedly went toward a down payment for the couple’s $14.7 million home in Montecito, California.

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Building a new empire

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced publicly in January 2020 that they intended to “carve out a progressive new role within [the] institution,” by maintaining royal responsibilities without their royal funding.

According to Vanity Fair, the couple received their last royal sum shortly after, which was intended to support them as they transitioned out of their senior roles.

As part of that transition, Harry and Meghan set out to trademark their Sussex Royal brand, which would have allowed them to sell a line of products and activities. Retail expert Andy Barr told the Daily Mail at the time that the business could generate revenues of over $500 million, easily outstripping the fortune previously provided by King Charles.

Unfortunately, Buckingham Palace ultimately blocked the trademark. The couple instead formed Archewell — an organization that includes audio and media production companies and a non-profit foundation.

From their new position as media moguls, the couple have signed lucrative deals with industry leading companies like Spotify, Netflix and Penguin Random House to tell their story of leaving the royal family. These projects, which are expected to collectively bring in up to $138 million, have produced a 12-episode podcast series, a six-hour docuseries, and now a record breaking book.

The revenue from Archewell is added to Harry’s executive-level salary as chief impact officer at BetterUp, a San Francisco-based mental health startup. According to reported salaries from Glassdoor, an executive position at this company could have a base salary of over $125,000 a year.

The couple may be far from castles and curtsies, but they’ll have plenty of cash to keep them comfortable in California. Which might be good news for Harry and Meghan alike, as the promotional tour for “Spare” has revealed some unflattering truths about his family.

Fortunately, the prince seems unconcerned about how the “raw account” of his life is received by others.

“I'm looking ahead and am optimistic for what's to come,” Harry told People magazine. “I have a beautiful and blessed life — one that comes with a platform, and with it responsibility that Meghan and I plan to use wisely,” he explained.

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About the Author

Emma Johnston-Wheeler

Emma Johnston-Wheeler

Staff Writer

Emma Johnston-Wheeler is Staff Writer for Moneywise. She is a 2021 graduate of Toronto Metropolitan University, holding a Bachelor of Journalism.

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