Prince Harry and Meghan’s latest Netflix deal highlights the big problem with their overpriced lifestyle choices.
Marriages of convenience, which have a bad habit of falling apart, are about as royal as pickle sandwiches and Nazi-sympathetic German relatives.
(When Henry VIII first saw Ann of Cleves, the Flemish princess who was shipped here to forge a political alliance, he famously said, ‘I don’t like her’, and after their marriage commented, ‘Now I like her much worse.”)
While the monarchy may have abandoned the marriage plot over the past century to let pheromones and university mixers do the work for them, mutually beneficial connections are still a staple of royal life.
The most famous marriage, if you will, in recent years has been between Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Netflix.
In 2020, it was revealed they had signed on the dotted line with the streaming giant in exchange for a reported payout of up to $140 million.
The line the Sussexes have held ever since is that they were essentially forced into this commercial merger after his family promptly turned off the post-Megxit cash flow.
As Harry told Oprah Winfrey during her legendary annoyed interview, her deals with Netflix and Spotify “were never part of the plan.”
“We didn’t have a plan. That was suggested by someone else at the point where my family was literally closing me off financially and I had to afford to… provide security for us.”
Look at the finger as it is pointing.
The focus on the Sussexes’ ties to Netflix was back in the news this week, following the entertainment site page six reports that the ducal duo has been secretly filming a docuseries “At Home with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex” for Netflix, aka what sounds suspiciously like a reality show.
“Hollywood Insider” page six reported, “are excited about the show.”
This, then, seemed to be the tragi-comic end point of Charles’ stingy frugality: poor Harry and Meghan were left with no choice but to succumb to Netflix’s glare to pay for their entourage of beefy bodyguards.
But with Harry and Meghan looking awful like going deep Let’s stick with the Sussexes Away, it’s worth asking the question, was her financial situation really so desolate that her only option was to sell herself to the highest TV bidder? How bad was their financial situation when they left the royal family?
The obvious starting point here is the money left to Harry by both the Queen Mother and Diana, Princess of Wales.
Although an exact number has never been confirmed, The times has reported that his entire inheritance, assuming it had been invested wisely, would be worth approximately $40.7 million by early 2021.
Meghan wasn’t a wimp in the cashed department either and made history as the first self-made millionaire to marry into the House of Windsor. Her net worth on her wedding day has been estimated at approximately $5.3 million The times.
So when the Sussexes landed in Los Angeles in March 2020, they had a combined total of an estimated $46 million. No small potatoes, I think we agree.
The other part of this equation then, of course, is their running costs, the largest of which has been their security. (Harry is currently facing a court case in the UK over the decision by the special unit looking after the Prime Minister and the royal family to lift official family protections.)
Estimates for the Duke and Duchess’ privately funded bodyguard entourage range from $1.4 million to $4.7 million. While it’s hardly cheap, for a $46 million couple who’ve always had book deals and lecturing gigs on the horizon, it certainly should have been doable.
Which leads us to the obvious conclusion: They can’t — or won’t — live within their means.
If there’s one thing that has defined post-royal life in Sussex, it’s a far more luxurious lifestyle than her previous existence.
In 2020, they bought a $20 million home in the very upscale area of Montecito that stretches over 5 acres and features 16 restrooms, a five car garage, movie theater, game room, spa, sauna and has a wine cellar. (Your old joint, Frogmore Cottage? Comparatively paltry five bedrooms and no Japanese-style teahouse or koi pond in sight.)
Meanwhile, according to the bean counters over there, 2021 is the Daily MailThe Duchess wore $25,990 worth of new jewelry in that one year alone, in addition to her large existing collection.
Did someone back there yell “private jets”? That too. When they flew to New York for three days in September to dance around town and have their picture taken boarding and disembarking at Very Important Meetings, it was a private jet.
For the same Big Apple trip, Meghan first wore a $11,957 Loro Piana ensemble to a school in Harlem and an embellished $7696 Valentino dress. The website No more UFOwho meticulously follows royals’ wardrobes, reported that the Duchess of Sussex unveiled $111,000 in new dresses in the last year alone.
While the royal family may be exceedingly wealthy in personal terms, with the Queen’s own fortune estimated at around $645 million, this kind of showy display of wealth — Kashmir! diamonds! A Gulf Stream! – would be an absolute anathema for the titled lot in the UK.
When it comes to the Sussexes’ bank accounts, the problem is that while $46 million is a staggering amount of money to you and me, it’s pocket money to the company the Sussexes now run. Her neighbor and consort Oprah is worth $4.4 billion, royal wedding guests George and Amal Clooney are worth $340 million, while her Montecito neighbor Katy Perry made $54.9 million in 2020 alone.
Suddenly, that $46 million is looking a little thin.
There have been suggestions in the past that the Sussexes wanted to model their new life after former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama, which is understandable considering they’re now worth $191 million and he spends his days doing nothing more tedious than recording a podcast with Bruce Springsteen and waxing on his wakeboard in the afternoons.
As the quintessential royal biographer Tina Brown recently recounted Washington Post About Meghan: “I think it was really like, she looks at someone like Michelle Obama and she’s like, wow, she’s got it all. You know, she’s got the stature and she’s got the ability to live in great houses, have great vacations, be the big voice for [humanitarianism].”
It’s obvious why this would have been such an attractive target model; What fails is the assumption that trading partners like Netflix, which also has the Obamas on its books, would want the same kind of sophisticated content from Britain’s fifth heir to the throne and his former cable star wife.
None of this had to be like this. You didn’t have to buy such a grandiose (and tacky) mansion; They didn’t have to start wearing $1830 sweaters from luxury brand The Row. and they have not had to hire staff for their charitable arm, the Archewell Foundation, an entity that has done nothing of any significance after almost two years.
With hindsight, you can look at the “docuseries” position the Sussexes are in now that their eyes were bigger than their bank accounts when they started living in the US, so they’re now in a position where they don’t have any have no choice but to capitulate to the whims and desires of their bosses. (A case of the greenback-eyed monster?) They wanted a monstrous house fit for a Kim or a Kendall; Now they have no choice but to do what is necessary to pay for it.
I don’t share the idea that money is the root of all evil, but it certainly is at the root of all reality TV and maybe even the occasional docuseries, whatever that is.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years’ experience working with a range of Australia’s leading media outlets
Originally posted when Meghan and Prince Harry’s expensive lifestyle exposes money issues