Harry and Meghan Image copyright Getty Images

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced they are stepping back as senior royals and intend to become financially independent.

But how are they currently funded, and what might this new arrangement look like?

Who pays for Harry and Meghan at the moment?

At present about 95% of the couple’s income comes from the Prince of Wales. He pays for the public duties of Prince Harry and Meghan, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and some of their private costs.

This funding – in the year Meghan officially joined the Royal Family – stood at just over £5m in 2018-19.

The money comes from Prince Charles’s income from the Duchy of Cornwall, a vast portfolio of property and financial investments, which brought in £21.6m last year.

In addition, about 5% of the Sussexes’ income comes from the Sovereign Grant, to cover official royal duties and foreign tours. This money is paid from the government to the Royal Family to cover the cost of official duties and looking after royal palaces.

The Sovereign Grant is funded by profits from the Crown Estate – commercial properties owned by the Crown.

What other wealth do they have?

Both the duke and duchess have considerable personal wealth. Princes William and Harry received the bulk of the £13m fortune left by their mother Princess Diana.

During her acting career, the Duchess of Sussex earned a reported payment of $50,000 (£38,300) per episode for the legal drama Suits.

She also ran a lifestyle blog, and designed her own fashion line for a Canadian brand.

What does being “financially independent” mean?

On their website, Harry and Meghan say they will no longer receive funding through the Sovereign Grant, “thereby making them members of the Royal Family with financial independence”. However, the grant only provides 5% of their income and it is unclear whether they will give up their other sources of funding.

The couple will continue to be given a security detail paid for by the taxpayer-funded Metropolitan Police, which does not disclose the costs involved.

Image copyright Max Mumby/Indigo
Image caption The couple are expected to step back from official royal duties

The couple’s intention to travel back and forth from North America would be likely to add to this cost, but it is possible they will pay towards this – although it will be a very big bill.

The couple say they have always funded their private travel, and this will continue to be the case. This suggests travel taken for official engagements will still be paid for by the taxpayer.

They will keep hold of their UK home, Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, which was renovated at the cost of £2.4m to the taxpayer last year.

Are royals allowed to make their own money?

As senior royals, Harry and Meghan are not allowed to earn income in any form.

The pair point out that there are other current members of the Royal Family who have full-time jobs.

Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, for example, are not “working royals”. That means they do not carry out official public duties as members of the Royal Family.

Princess Beatrice works in finance, while Princess Eugenie is a director at an art gallery.

However, some costs are still met by the taxpayer, such as the security of Princess Eugenie’s wedding in 2018.

Exactly how Harry and Meghan will finance themselves in future is up for debate, according to David McClure, author of a book on royal finances.

“I suppose they could get money from writing books, a more likely source is from television. There has been talk about Harry and Meghan doing a deal with Oprah Winfrey, so that’s a possible way of making money,” he told the BBC.

However, Mr McClure adds that “history suggests that senior royals and making money don’t go well together”.

What could their next steps be?

In their statement, the couple said that launching a new charity would become one of their future priorities. This follows their decision to leave the Royal Foundation last year, which they shared with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Set up in 2009, the Royal Foundation focuses on causes close to the princes’ hearts, including the armed forces, conservation and mental health.

In June the pair trademarked the Royal Sussex brand, applying it to dozens of items and services from pencil cases to sport activities and education training.

As one of the most famous couples in the world, their brand has the potential to be highly lucrative. Their joint Instagram account @sussexroyal has more than 10 million followers, while Meghan was the most Googled person in the UK last year.


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