How Meghan Markle and Prince Harry could earn enough money to become 'financially independent' of the crown - and why it likely won't include a return to the screen
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- The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will likely soon start taking on jobs similar to those of former presidents - writing books and giving speeches - in their quest to become "financially independent," one royal commentator told Business Insider.
- Although former actress Meghan Markle's return to the screen is unlikely, it wouldn't be unprecedented.
- Even if the young family forgoes their allowance from the Sovereign Grant, British taxpayers will likely continue to foot their potentially £100,000 annual security bill, a former royal protection officer told Business Insider.
- Meghan and Harry might not even need to work to become financially independent. They already have a combined net worth of $30 million and many of their most lavish experiences have been financed by their famous friends.
- The couple announced on Instagram and via their website on Wednesday that they plan to "step back" as "senior" royals and split their time between the UK and North America, in a shocking decision that's being called "Megxit."
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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced Wednesday that they want to take a "progressive new role" within the British monarchy - starting with footing their own bills.
"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," the couple said in a statement posted to their Instagram account.
How will Meghan and Harry make money now?
The royal couple will likely use book deals and speaking engagements to fund their luxurious tastes going forward, while other expenses like their security detail will remain on British taxpayers, royal commentators told Business Insider. Even though Harry has never had a job outside of his military service, it likely won't take much effort for them to start raking in multimillion dollar paychecks. The Sussexes have "great earning potential," royal commentator and author Kristen Meinzer told Business Insider.
"We could easily compare them to any former presidents," Meinzer said. "My mind keeps going to Barack and Michelle Obama and how [they] make money. The reason I compare the two is that they're already friends with each other and I would put them on the same level in terms of fame."
The Duke and Duchess will likely start receiving book offers as soon as they are cleared to generate their own income, and the value of those offers will likely be in the neighborhood of the $60 million advance that Barack and Michelle Obama were reportedly paid for the rights to their memoirs in 2017, according to Meinzer.
The Atlantic's Joanna Weiss theorized that the couple could leverage their massively popular @SussexRoyal Instagram account with sponsored content, but Meinzer says she doesn't expect that the couple will be hawking Sugar Bear Hair vitamins like Kylie Jenner and the Kardashians.
Will Meghan start acting again?
Similarly, "Suits" fans shouldn't get their hopes up that the Duchess will return to the small screen, according to Meinzer. "I'm not certain that that would make sense for her at this point," Meinzer said. "So much of what she seems to want to do seems to be related to diplomacy, creating a fair and more equitable world, and the environment … and it's not that you can't support those causes through acting, but they would likely want to support those causes more directly through their work."
However, it's not unprecedented for "senior royals" like Meghan and Harry - those in the top 10 in the line of succession - to have full-time jobs. Prince Harry's cousins Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, who are ninth and tenth in line for the throne respectively, both pursued careers instead of doing royal engagements full time. Beatrice works at software company Afiniti, while Eugenie is the director at the London art gallery Hauser & Wirth, according to Good Housekeeping.
Harry and Meghan already have a sizeable fortune to their names, even if they delay earning money for themselves. The Duke and Duchess have an estimated net worth of $30 million from a combination of the Duke's inheritance from his mother and the Duchess's earnings from her acting career, among other income, Business Insider's Tanza Loudenback and Taylor Borden reported.
That may not be enough to support the lavish lifestyle they're accustomed to, however. The Duchess' maternity wardrobe was worth an estimated $500,000, while the acupuncture and numerology treatments she received during her pregnancy cost an estimated $11,000, Business Insider's Hillary Hoffower reported - though some of their most extravagant expenses, such as Meghan's $200,000 baby shower, were funded by the couples' famous friends (like Serena Williams, who footed the bill for the shower).
Meghan and Harry likely can't let British taxpayers completely off the hook for their expenses
Even if the Sussexes forgo their allowance from the United Kingdom's Sovereign Grant, the tab for their personal security team would still be paid by British taxpayers, former royal personal protection office and Director of Operations and Training at London-based security firm Trojan Consultancy Simon Morgan told Business Insider. Their security teams are a part of a specialized division of the Metropolitan Police that is funded by Britain's taxpayer-supported Home Office.
"It's not their decision whether they get protection or not, so it may not be their decision to give it up," Morgan told Business Insider.
The couple would have to renounce their HRH titles to have their security details withdrawn, according to Morgan. In that case, they would then need to pay a private security contractor "thousands of pounds a day on a day to day basis, or hundred of thousands of pounds on an annual basis" to maintain their current level of protection, Morgan said.
As it operates today, the entire royal family costs approximately £1 per taxpayer per year, according to the Duke and Duchess' website. Mounting criticism over the cost of their lifestyle to taxpayers may have been a driving cause behind the decision to include their goal of financial independence in their shocking Wednesday afternoon announcement, Meinzer said.