Fashion, publishing and social media — how Harry and Meghan could make millions

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend an official photocall to announce their engagement at The Sunken Gardens, Kensington Palace on November 27, 2017 in London, England
Max Mumby/Indigo | Getty Images

With the world still reeling from the news that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are to step back from their roles as senior royals and seek "financial independence," CNBC looks at how the Sussexes could now make money.

The couple, who got married and received their royal titles in 2018, say they want to earn their own income but said that this was "prohibited" in their current roles as royals.

The pair have pointed out there is precedent to holding a royal title and also earning a living externally. Princess Beatrice is Vice President of partnerships and strategy at software firm Afiniti, while her younger sister Princess Eugenie is a director at London art gallery, Hauser & Wirth.

Harry and Meghan have said they will give up the 5% of funding they receive from the Sovereign Grant, which is the money the royal family receives from the government, and therefore British taxpayers.

The total grant amounted to £82.2 million ($106.5 million) in 2018-19, working out at over £1 per U.K. taxpayer.

The remaining 95% comes from the Duchy of Cornwall, the estate of Harry's father Prince Charles. Prince Harry is reported to receive £5 million a year from the estate, though there is speculation Prince Charles could now cut his son and daughter-in-law off.

However, Prince Harry's net worth is said to be around £30 million, which is partly made up of inheritance from his mother, the late Princess Diana. Meanwhile, Forbes estimates that Meghan has a net worth of $2.2 million.

The couple definitely won't struggle to get by, but CNBC takes a look at how else the Sussexes could raise income after cutting the royal purse strings.

Social media

Harry and Meghan could make over $110 million from sponsored posts on Instagram alone, according to data from influencer marketing platform Klear.

This figure is based on if the couple produced 41 sponsored posts a year, which is the industry average for influencers.

Klear then used industry benchmark costs for likes, comments and video views, current engagement on the @sussexroyal Instagram account and the return on investment for influencer marketing, to calculate what the couple could earn on the platform.

Eytan Avigdor, CEO of Klear, says it is interesting to analyze the demographic of their followers, with 91% being female, 32% are based in the U.S. and 44% are aged 25-34.

"Should they decide to pursue this avenue there is definitely a lot of potential for them considering their loyal fans and high engagement rates which is really the bread and butter for brands looking to find strong ambassadors," he says.

TV, movies and books

Much of Meghan's net worth comes from her career as an actress, with seven years on TV drama "Suits."

Forbes estimated she earned up to $85,000 per episode playing Rachel Zane, so her royal credentials could command an even higher salary should the duchess return to acting.

Meghan has signed a deal with Disney, according to report by The Times, where she will do a voiceover in exchange for a donation to conservation charity Elephants Without Borders.

Disney didn't offer a response when initially contacted by CNBC.

Prince Harry has also made move into the world of entertainment, announcing via the @sussexroyal Instagram account last year that he was partnering with talk show host Oprah Winfrey to create a series for Apple TV on mental health, due to air this year.

David Haigh, CEO of brand valuation firm Brand Finance, questions whether a Hollywood movie or book deal may already be in the making given Meghan's background and "influential network."

"I'm pretty sure there are already publishers sniffing about proposing they write some sort of palace exposé or memoir about what life is really like as a young royal," he says.

Reports have said the Sussexes could score a book deal in excess of the $64 million Barack and Michelle Obama received for their autobiographies after leaving the White House.

Similarly, Haigh says the pair could command high speaker fees to present at corporate events or after-dinner guest appearances.


It emerged last year that Harry and Meghan had trademarked the "Sussex royal" brand, which applied not just to services like charity fund raising but also included clothing such as hoodies and sportswear.

Meghan is already a royal patron of Smart Works, a U.K. charity which provides interview training and high quality clothes for unemployed women in need.

Regardless of whether the duchess was promoting a brand from London or Vancouver, Haigh says that the "Markle sparkle" is captivating across so many demographics that this "unique global appeal" would help the couple gain financial independence.

And the fact that many fashion retailers had seen their websites crash after a sighting of Meghan in their jacket or dress, he argues is testament to this power and the couple's announcement would only pique people's interest further.

The Sussexes aren't the first of the so-called "firm" to forge commercial relationships. Harry's father Charles, The Prince of Wales, set up organic food company "Duchy Originals" in 1990. In 2010, the company partnered with British supermarket Waitrose, becoming "Duchy Organic," though all profits from the business have gone towards charitable causes.