Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton make tons of public appearances and, on almost every occasion, their outfits cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. They’re fashion icons, after all, and the world world wants to see them wearing something new every time.
But, who’s picking up the tab? Glad you asked! Here’s everything you need to know about where Meghan and Kate get the money to fund their *incredible* wardrobes.
First of all, they didn’t get any help from the royal family until they got married.
When Meghan and Prince Harry were engaged, she had to pay for all her clothes on her own, or with the help of Harry himself from his personal wealth. Nothing was covered by the royal family funds, unless she borrowed Prince Harry’s sweater and that’s sort of cheating! So then, this $75,000 Ralph and Russo gown she wore for her engagement pictures? Meghan paid for that herself.
FYI, Meghan Markle’s net worth was estimated at $7 million before the wedding, so although $75,000 is a lot, the girl makes her own money. Okay?
It was also reported that she paid for her custom Givenchy wedding gown, which cost over $100,000—with some sources estimating it was as much as $265,000.
Kate Middleton’s family reportedly paid for her wedding dress, a custom Sarah Burton Alexander McQueen gown. Now, it’s reportedly worth over $400,000. Some people estimate that it cost $200,000 when the family originally purchased it.
Even though Kate Middleton is technically a “commoner,” that doesn’t mean her family doesn’t have money. Kate herself is worth around $10 million, and the company her family owns is reportedly worth $5o million. So she can afford designer threads too.
After their weddings, they got access to the royal checkbook.
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cornwall, has access to a large estate founded wayyy back in 1337. It’s called the Duchy of Cornwall (if you laughed, you’re not alone). Basically, the duchy makes money through owning land and renting it to other people, but there’s also investments and interest payments in the mix. This family money is what Charles uses to manage all the expensive parts of being a royal.
The Duchy of Cornwall is a well-managed private estate, which was established by Edward III in 1337. 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 fund goes to whoever is the oldest son of the reigning monarch, which is Queen Elizabeth in this case. When Prince Charles ascends the throne, Prince William will become the Duke of Cornwall and therefore inherit this estate. The Prince’s annual income from the estate is about $28 million.
He gives Will and Harry money for “non-official” purchases and a royal savings account, according to CNN Money, and they get reimbursed for all their royal activities.
So how much do they get exactly?
Great question! Last year, Will, Harry and Kate got $4.8 million between them to fund their public lives, which includes salaries, office costs, and other expenses, like clothes. This doesn’t mean they spent that much money on shoes, though—but a girl can dream, right? And, specifically, we all know Kate would be dreaming of cork wedges.
Apparently, that number went up to $6.5 million this past year to accommodate Meghan joining the fam—and also because Queen Elizabeth has stepped back a little from her royal duties, which means the younger generation has to pick up the slack.
Okay, but can’t they just get free clothes from designers?
Unforch, they cannot. Even though every designer in the world would be thrilled to send them freebies (even without expecting Instagram promo, because we know the royals aren’t allowed social media), there’s a hard and fast royal rule stating they can’t accept gifts. “[Kate] doesn’t take free clothes, and I’ve heard that from other people who sent her things,” Katherine Hooker, whose designs Kate has worn, told Huffington Post in 2013.
The family can, however, request clothes from designers and send back whatever they don’t use, so it’s like Rent the Runway, but with Chanel. They pay for the clothes they end up wearing.
And what happens to all those incredible clothes after they wear them?
Well, it’s not totally clear, but if Meghan and Kate follow in the footsteps of Princess Diana, they might be saving their clothes to auction off for charity later on. Just two months before she died, Diana auctioned off 79 different dresses to benefit cancer and AIDS causes, and raised $3.25 million.