Prince Harry and Meghan’s latest Netflix deal highlights the major problem with their very expensive lifestyle choices.
Marriages of convenience, which have a bad habit of being derailed, are about as royal as cucumber sandwiches and Nazi-sympathizing German relatives.
(When Henry VIII first saw Ann of Cleves, the Flemish princess shipped off to forge a political alliance, he then famously said, “I don’t like her,” and after their marriage remarked, “Now I find her much worse.”)
While the monarchy may have given up on the conspiracy of marriage in the last century to let pheromones and college mixers do their work for them, mutually beneficial unions are still a big part of the fabric of royal life.
The most famous marriage, if you will, in recent years was between Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Netflix†
In 2020, it was revealed that 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 stuck to ever since was that they were essentially forced into this commercial merger after his family promptly turned off the money tap after Megxit.
“We had no plan. That was suggested by someone else to the point where my family literally cut me off financially, and I had to afford to pay…security for us.”
Consider the finger so pointed.
The focus on the ties of the Sussexes with Netflix were in the news again this week after entertainment website page six reports that the ducal duo had secretly created an “‘at-home with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex-style’ docuseries” for Netflix in other words, something that looks suspiciously like a reality show.
“Hollywood Insiders”, page six reported, “are captivated by the show.”
This then seemed to be the tragicomic end of Charles’ tight frugality: Arme Harry and Meghan They had no choice but to succumb to the looks of Netflix so they could pay for their retinue of hefty bodyguards.
But with Harry and Meghan looking very much like they’re going down… Staying with the Sussexes route, it’s worth asking, was their money situation really so foreboding that their only option was to sell themselves to the highest TV bidder? How dire was their financial situation when they left the royal family?
The obvious premise here is the money Harry is given by both the Queen Mother and… Diana, Princess of Wales†
Although an exact figure has never been confirmed, The times has reported that his total inheritance, assuming it was wisely invested, would be worth about $40.7 million by early 2021.
Meghan also was no slouch in the silver-plated department, making history as the first self-made millionaire to marry at Windsor’s house. Her net worth on her wedding day has been estimated at approximately $5.3 million, by The times†
Therefore, when they landed in Los Angeles in March 2020, the Sussexes had together an estimated $46 million. No small potatoes, I think we can agree.
The other part of this equation is, of course, their ongoing costs, the biggest of which was their safety. (Harry is currently embodied in legal action in the UK over the decision of the specialist unit looking after the Prime Minister and the Royal Family to have official protections removed from the family.)
Estimates for the duke and duchess’ due to privately funded bodyguards ranged from $1.4 million to $4.7 million. While it wasn’t cheap, for a $46 million couple, and for whom book deals and speaking engagements were always on the agenda, it should still be doable.
Which leaves us with the obvious conclusion: they can’t or won’t live within their means.
If there’s one thing that has characterized Sussex’s post-royal life, it’s that it’s a much more luxurious lifestyle than their former existence.
In 2020, they bought a $20 million home in the very upscale area of Montecito, which sits on five acres and comes with 16 toilets, a five-car garage, movie theater, game room, spa, sauna, and wine cellar. . (Their old tent, Frogmore Cottage? A relatively shabby five-bedroom and not a Japanese-style teahouse or koi pond in sight.)
Meanwhile, in 2021, according to the bean counters at 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 in the back yell ‘private jets’? That too. When they flew to New York for three days in September to waltz around the city to be photographed going in and out of Very Important Meetings, it was on a private jet.
For that same Big Apple trip, Meghan first worn, including a $11,957 Loro Piana ensemble to a Harlem school and a $7696 embellished Valentino dress. The website UFO no moreclosely following the wardrobes of several royals, reported that last year alone, the Duchess of Sussex debuted $111,000 worth of new clothes.
While the royal family can be extraordinarily wealthy in a personal capacity, with the queen’s own fortune at around $645 million, this kind of striking display of wealth is cashmere! Diamonds! A Gulf Stream! – would totally horrify the titled fate in the UK.
When it comes to the Sussex’ bank accounts, the problem is that while $46 million is an unimaginable amount for you and me, the spending money is for the business that the Sussexes have now. Their neighbor and partner Oprah is worth $4.4 billion, royal wedding guests George and Amal Clooney are worth $340 million, while their Montecito neighbor Katy Perry made $54.9 million in 2020 alone.
Suddenly that $46 million is starting to look a little meager.
In the past, there have been suggestions that the Sussexes wanted to model their new life after that of former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obamaunderstandable considering they are now worth a reported $191 million and he spends his days doing nothing more difficult than recording a podcast with Bruce Springsteen and waxing his wakeboard in the afternoons.
As royal biographer par excellence, Tina Brown recently told the Washington Post from Meghan: “I think it was real she looked at someone like Michelle Obama and thought, wow, she’s got it all. You know, she’s got the build and she’s got… the ability to live in great homes, to go on great vacations, to be the big voice for [humanitarianism]†
It’s obvious why this would have been such an attractive model to aim for; Where it goes wrong is the assumption that commercial partners like Netflix, which also has the Obamas on the books, would want the same kind of highbrow content from the fifth heir to the British throne and his former cable star wife.
None of this should have been this way. They didn’t have to buy such a grandiose (and gauche) mansion; they didn’t have to wear $1830 sweaters from the ultra-luxury brand The Row; and they didn’t have to hire staff for their Archewell Foundation charity arm, an outfit that hasn’t done anything of any significance for nearly two years.
With the benefit of hindsight, one way of looking at the “docuseries” position the Sussexes are in now is that when they started their American lives, their eyes were bigger than their bank accounts, leaving them in a position now in which they have no choice but to capitulate to the whims and desires of their corporate bosses. (A case of the dollar-eyed monster?) They wanted a monstrous house fit for a Kim or a Kendall; now they have no choice but to do whatever it takes to pay for it.
I don’t agree with the idea that money is the root of all evil, but it sure is the root of all reality TV and maybe even the occasional docuseries whatever the dick is.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years experience working with some of the leading Australian media titles
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