The British crown is slightly askew this week. That after Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, announced plans to step away from their status as royal family members.
Here’s how the couple phrased the announcement in a Jan. 8 Instagram post:
“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution.”
“We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.”
“We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity.”
“We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties.”
“Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.” - The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Reportedly, the Duke and Duchess can continue to officially represent the monarchy, but only in what Buckingham Palace describes as an “external role” – a role that hasn’t fully been fleshed out yet.
A Look at the Couple’s Finances
While the couples own declaration of independence made huge waves on the cultural front, questions are rising now on how the couple will get by financially, with their status as member of the British royal family up in the air.
The answer? They’ll get by just fine.
For starters, Prince Harry has always been frugal about money.
According to the biography “Harry: Life, Loss and Love” by royal author Katie Nicholl, Harry was given a few dollars on a Kensington shopping trip with his mother, Princess Diana, Princess of Wales, and his brother, Prince William, when Harry was 5 years old.
Pleased with the cash in hand, Harry rolled up to a store counter with a comic book, some chocolates, and an additional bag of sweets. When told that he didn’t have enough money to pay for all his items, Harry calmly returned the sweets and purchased the comic book, instead.
Thirty years later, Prince Harry alone is worth a reported $40 million and Meghan Markle brings an additional $5 million to the table as a Hollywood actor who worked steadily in the years leading up to her connection with Prince Harry and Buckingham Palace.
Getting By With a Little Help From Their Funds
Just because the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are giving up their royal duties doesn’t mean the cash pipeline is shut off for the Canada-bound couple.
For starters, the British royal family is worth a reported $88 billion, according to figures from Forbes, with Queen Elizabeth’s net worth valued at $530 million, as of 2016.
While Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will continue to receive funding from the royal family and the British people, they’ll more or less get their wish to be “financially independent.”
The big hit comes from a funding mechanism called a sovereign grant instituted in 2012 that funds the royal family – money that comes from the British treasury.
That fund, currently valued at approximately $104 million, will no longer be made available to the couple once they step away from their royal duties. That’s because the money from the fund goes to “fund the Monarch’s royal duties” according to the U.K. government.
The “Sovereign Grant,” is a single, consolidated annual grant that replaced the old, multi-tiered “Civil List” mechanism for funding the royal family that dated back to the 1760s, in the days of King George III.
Other Sources of Income
With their own declaration of independence, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle can no longer draw from the Sovereign Grant fund. Under British law, members of the royal family are banned from earning any income outside of their prescribed roles in the monarchy.
Fortunately for the now not-so-royal couple, the grant only represents about 5% of what Harry and Megan earn from the fund. Other forms of revenue will continue to roll in, however, including:
Salaries and Expenditures
Both Harry and Meghan will continue to draw a salary from their royalty duties, even as they curb those royal duties. Data from Sussex Royal website notes both will continue to garner 95% of funding for their office expenditure from royal funds described as "income allocated by HRH The Prince of Wales, generated through the Duchy of Cornwall." The other 5% is held back due to statutes under the Sovereign Grant.
Harry’s Military Pay
As a captain in the British Army, Harry earned between $50,000 and $53,000, money that was reportedly held for investment purposes and likely still earning interest today.
An Inheritance From Princess Diana
Both Prince William and Prince Harry received a $10 million inheritance from the state of their mother after her death. Reportedly, the money comes in the form of a trust that pays each about $450,000 annually, starting out at age 25 (Harry is 35 years-old right now.)
An Inheritance From the Queen Mother
Harry also received an inheritance (of an unknown amount) from the Queen Mother, his great grandmother. The trust fund, established in 2002, is said to be worth $17.5 million, although that figure hasn’t been officially corroborated by the trustees or the royal family.
Funding From Harry’s Father, Prince Charles
The Prince of Wales, father of both Prince William and Prince Harry, reportedly holds an asset portfolio worth $1.3 billion, under the stewardship of the Duchy of Cornwall.
The portfolio’s funding stems from a private estate established by the Duchy, and is set aside for the person who holds the title of “Prince of Wales” and his family - a title Prince Charles has held since July 26, 1958 – when he was just 9 years old.
Unfortunately, by a Duchy technical mandate, the money can only formally go to the heir apparent of the British throne, which means Prince Charles right now, Prince William, once Charles passes away or gives up or doesn’t ascend to the throne, and eventually to Prince Harry – currently sixth in line to the crown, which is an unlikely occurrence in the Duke of Sussex’ lifetime.
Still, there is no doubt that no matter what happens, Prince Charles has made provisions in his own will that would stand to financially benefit his youngest son and his family – crown or no crown, and may pass along cash to family members as he sees fit, according to Duchy rules.
Meghan Markle’s $5 Million in Assets
The couple likely doesn’t need the cash, but if Harry and Meghan, if we can call them that now, are hard-pressed, they can draw on Meghan’s estimated $5 million in assets earned from her career as an actor.
She reportedly earned $50,000 an episode on the USA show “Suits” where she appeared for seven years. Meghan Markle also appeared in films like “Horrible Bosses” and “Remember Me,” earning several hundred thousand dollars more from the silver screen.
No “Tin Cup” for the Duke and Duchess
No matter what happens in the seemingly never-ending saga of the British Royal family, Harry and Meghan won’t have to resort to selling trinkets outside Buckingham Palace.
Both are worth tens of millions of dollars combined and both have the means to continue earning huge piles of cash for years to come.
Both undoubtedly would also earn the biggest cash advance ever for an autobiography (former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama share that honor, with a $65 million joint book deal with Penguin Random House). Additionally, film rights for their story would go through the roof, as would cash earned from speeches and personal appearances.
Not that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would ever take that route, especially with over $45 million on hand already, along with a prudent outlook on money in the first place.