If you haven’t been paying attention, there has been a new “American Revolution” of sorts. And Meghan Markle is at the center of it!
Meghan and her husband Prince Harry are famous around the world as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Now, the two of them have bid goodbye to most of their royal privileges and responsibilities. Why? Because they have stepped down as senior members of the royal family.
Their decision caused a stir, but was met with the support of the Queen, who issued a statement. “Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family. I recognize the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life.”
But what does this “independent life” really mean for Harry and Meghan? And what can they no longer do after stepping down? We’ve got the full breakdown below.
They can’t be guaranteed estate funds
One of the biggest potential effects of stepping down has to do with real estate. Specifically, Harry and Meghan may no longer be able to access Prince Charles’ estate.
Put simply, Harry and Meghan received money via the Duchy of Cornwall. The Duchy of Cornwall is a private estate run by Prince Charles that is worth over £1billion. Charles grants both of his sons income from the estate each year. In fact, it was reported that 95% of Harry and Meghan’s income came from the Duchy of Cornwall.
After stepping down, there is no guarantee that they will be able to access these estate funds. Although, Princes Charles decides how the Duchy of Cornwall funds are used, so it is up to him.
They can’t receive Sovereign Grant money
While it’s nowhere near as lucrative as the estate money, the happy couple previously received money from the Sovereign Grant, which made up 5% of their income. This is money that is given to royalty as a kind of payment for their official duties.
Obviously, with neither Harry nor Markle performing professional duties, they will no longer be able to access this grant money. That is unlikely to affect their lifestyle, though: like many American politicians, most of the royal family have wealth that far exceeds their professional income.
Harry inherited $16 million from his mother Princess Diana after she died. Meanwhile, Meghan’s net worth was estimated to be $5 million before she married Harry, due in large part to her salary from Suits.
Compared to other wealth, their Sovereign Grant money is like a drop in the bucket. Or, to use the metaphor that royal expert David McClure prefers, this money is like disposable “chicken feed.”
They can’t live rent-free at Frogmore Cottage
We usually imagine that members of the royalty are very different than the rest of us. But there are a few things we can all agree on, including this: life is a lot easier when you don’t have to pay rent!
Previously, Harry and Meghan lived rent-free in Windsor’s lovely Frogmore Cottage. However, they only lived there for free because they were considered senior members of the royal family. And the actual property is owned by the Queen.
Now, it has been announced that Harry and Meghan will be paying rent for Frogmore Cottage. And they’ve announced their intention to pay back to the $3 million of taxpayer money they used to refurbish and renovate the property.
Now that they’re paying rent for Frogmore Cottage, Harry and Meghan are no longer entitled to their royal staff. They had already cut down their staff when moving into the Cottage to just two live-in employees in addition to part-time staff members.
However, part of living independently means giving up their royal staff. In theory, Harry and Meghan could have kept the staff and paid for them privately. But since they’re spending most of their time outside the U.K. now, there’s no need to keep employees at Frogmore Cottage.
It has been reported that the staff members were not fired, but rather redeployed to work for other royal residences.
They can’t be called His or Her Royal Highness
One of the first questions on everyone’s mind is: if Harry and Meghan are no longer “senior royals,” will they still be addressed like royalty?
The good news is Harry and Meghan still retain their titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Harry is still a prince, and he is still sixth in line to the throne.
The only difference is that Harry and Meghan will no longer be referred to as His or Her Royal Highness, abbreviated as HRH. To drive the point home, Buckingham Palace’s official statement on Jan. 18 referred to them as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex throughout, but said, “The Sussexes will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family.”
They won’t participate in the Royal Rota
It’s no surprise that one of the reasons Harry and Meghan are stepping down as senior royals is due to the overwhelming press coverage they have received as a couple.
As senior royals, Harry and Meghan were obligated to participate in the Royal Rota. This is the press pool that covers the British royals. It gives various publications access to photos from each royal event.
Harry and Meghan were obligated to release images to the Royal Rota at the same time or in advance of releasing said images on social media. This meant that tabloids such as the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, and The Sun could profit off of their images.
With Harry and Meghan’s war (and lawsuits) on the tabloids, it makes sense that they would not want to participate in the Royal Rota any longer. Now, they will have full control over who has access to their personal images.
They can’t officially represent the Queen
The most obvious effect of the couple stepping down is pretty simple: they will no longer be able to take on any official royal duties. While that sounds intuitive, there is a historical precedent for royals who step back from public life and still carry out various engagements in the name of the queen.
But Harry and Meghan have made it clear they will no longer perform any of these duties. This includes no more official military appointments for Harry, who spent 10 years in the British Army.
Still, just because they don’t represent the Queen doesn’t mean they can embarrass her. “While they can no longer formally represent The Queen, the Sussexes have made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
They can live wherever they want — and they chose Canada
Without royal duties to attend to, Harry and Meghan are free to live wherever they choose. And they have announced they will be raising their son Archie in Canada (for now), although they will still spend some time in the U.K.
“The decision to base themselves in Canada reflects the importance of this Commonwealth country to them both…. The Duke of Sussex has been a frequent visitor to Canada over many years, and it was also home to The Duchess for seven years before she became a member of the Royal Family,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement in December.
Just how nice are Harry and Meghan’s new digs in Canada? They are staying in a $13.7 million seafront home.
They can ‘monetize their brand’
It’s a brave new world for Harry and Meghan now that they’re no longer working royals. Now, they are free to become financially independent and take on jobs and endorsements in the private sector if they so choose.
While there is the worry that they will be criticized for “monetizing their brand,” it seems inevitable that announcements will come about how they plan to achieve financial independence.
“I think success will find them,” TMZ head Harvey Levin told Fox News. “I don’t even think they need to search out success. They are very marketable, desirable people…. And they will make a lot of money.”