Yesterday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced that they will be stepping down from their ‘senior’ roles within the British royal family.
In a statement shared to their official Sussex Royal Instagram account, Harry and Megan went on to explain that they plan “to work to become financially independent”. This will mean that they will be cutting themselves off from the Sovereign Grant, dramatically changing the structure of how things are currently run for the Sussex household.
So how will they make their money now? And how might this change their roles? We break it down below.
How they earn money under the current system
As with other senior members of the British royal family, Harry and Meghan currently
receive funding from the Sovereign Grant, which is funded by British taxpayers. As a result they are prohibited from earning any money themselves.
As they explained on their website, Sussexroyal.com, contribution from UK taxpayers towards the British Monarchy is equivalent to approximately £1 per head per year. This investment by the public is returned, as the royal family generates an estimated £1.8 billion a year in tourism revenues which hugely benefits the country.
During the 2018/19 period, the Queen surrendered approximately £329 million from the Crown Estate to the government. In exchange for this contribution, the government granted the sovereign approximately £82 million to cover the costs of official expenditure. This constitutes the Sovereign Grant.
The annual grant, which came into place in 2012, covers only five per cent of operating costs for the Sussexes. The remaining 95 per cent is funded by the Duchy of Cornwall private estate, which is owned by Prince Charles. This provision has existed since Prince William and Prince Harry first established their offices in support of the Queen.
“The revenues from the estate are passed to HRH The Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall, who chooses to use them to fund his public, charitable and private activities and those of his family,” the official Duchy of Cornwall site states.
Why do they want to be financially independent?
Currently, the Sussexes don’t actually earn an income from their work, as they are prohibited from doing so under the current structure. On their new website, the couple said that they “value the ability to earn a professional income”, which they will have the opportunity to do when they become financially independent.
“There is precedent for this structure and applies to other current members of the Royal Family who support the monarch and also have full-time jobs external to their commitment to the monarchy,” their site notes.
Other members such as Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie hold more traditional jobs that pay an outside income, which is what the Sussexes plan to do.
Not relying on taxpayer money will enable the couple more freedom. As part of this newfound independence, for example, they will no longer abiding by the ‘Royal Rota’ system when it comes to the media.
How will they make money now?
The Sussexes will continue to have an income from the Duchy of Cornwall, as there is currently no indication Prince Charles will cut these funds. Money goes to “private activities and those of his family”, which continues to apply to the Sussexes. They will also be able to rely on their personal fortunes, from inheritance and from Meghan’s former career as a successful actress.
Future charitable work and other projects will now benefit their income. Harry and Meghan feel this new approach will enable them to continue to carry out their duties for Her Majesty The Queen, while having the future financial autonomy to work externally, something which they go into more detail about on their website.
This new independence doesn’t mean they’re planning to cut ties with the monarchy completely, however.
Transitioning away from relying on the Sovereign Grant will take time, but they “are hopeful that this change is in the best interest for all”. The couple stated that they “look forward to carrying out their duties to the monarch as well as their charitable work with financial autonomy”.
From Harper’s Bazaar UK