What is Harry and Meghan’s money situation in Sussex 2.0?
Updated: Jan 29, 2020
One of my fellow Royal Watchers (hi, Jessica D. – gotta clarify because there are multiple Royal Watcher Jessicas that I know) and I were talking about money last week – how Harry and Meghan will make it now that they are “financially independent” and “will no longer receive public funds for Royal duties.”
It made me remember that I answered a question about Royal money in a Royal Potpourri this past summer. By the way, y’all have not been sending in the RP questions, so pick up the pace so we can have another RP post soon!
I’m going to repost my answer to that question (which should have been its own blog post all along) to help explain some of the particulars about how the Royal Family is funded.
So, back to Harry and Meghan: According to the BBC, 95 percent of the Sussexes’ income comes from Charles’ income from the Duchy of Cornwall (see below for more information on what that is). Last year, the Duchy brought in 21.6 million pounds, and the Sussexes got about 5 million of that. Harry and Meghan will still receive money from Charles, but it’s unclear whether that money will be from the Duchy, Charles’ personal wealth, or a combination of the two. So, TBH, calling themselves “financially independent” is a bit of a stretch. Let me show you some financial independence, baby, and it does not include 5 mil from my daddy. (Hi Dad! #send5milpls)
There won’t be anymore money coming from the Sovereign Grant (again, see below) to the Sussexes, so there’s that.
William and Harry both inherited 13 million pounds from Diana, and Harry is thought to have been left a few other cool millions by his great-grandmother, the Queen Mother, when she passed away in 2002. Meghan likely has income left over from her acting and blogging careers, and, now that they’re not working Royals, they’re free to earn their own money going forward. They do have to repay the 2.4 million used for Frogmore renovations, and might have to pay for their own security, so if they don’t have a plan, the money can go quickly.
This page on the Sussex Royal website is fantastic at breaking down the new Sussex funding model and is worth a look. (Sometimes links on here don't show up very well, so just hover over it and you'll find it.)
So here’s the quick skinny on Royal Family money (written last summer):
Question: Where does the Royal Family get their money from? Does all of it come from taxpayers? Is there any oversight on how they spend it?
Answer: The Queen herself is worth 360 million pounds ($470 million). Her three main sources of income are 1.) the Sovereign Grant, 2.) the Duchy of Lancaster estate, and 3.) her personal property and investments. The Sovereign Grant is an annual lump sum from the government and is essentially an expense account, covering costs of travel, security, staff, and the upkeep of Royal palaces. In the 2016-2017 fiscal year, for example, the Queen received 42.8 million pounds ($58 million) tax free from the Sovereign Grant. This number is not fixed and can fluctuate to accommodate happenings in the Family, such as a recent major renovation to Buckingham Palace. The Sovereign Grant comes from the Crown Estate, a collection of properties and farms across the United Kingdom that generate hundreds of millions of pounds each year. Most of the money from the Crown Estate goes into government coffers, but about 15 to 25 percent is given to the Queen in the form of the Sovereign Grant.
The Duchy of Lancaster is a private estate of commercial, agricultural, and residential properties dating back to 1265. In the most recent fiscal year, the Duchy produced 19.2 million pounds ($26 million) in income for the Queen. This money is used to pay for official and private expenses, including the costs of Family members like William and Kate or Harry and Meghan who undertake official engagements on her behalf (like their upcoming trips to Pakistan and South Africa, respectively).
Finally, the Queen makes money from her own personal assets, like Balmoral (where she is now) and Sandringham, which she inherited from her father. The Queen also owns a valuable stamp collection, numerous works of art, and a stock portfolio. One might think the Queen could count the Crown Jewels as a part of her personal assets, but they, and many works of fine art, are owned by the Royal Collection Trust, a charity.
(This probably should have been its own blog post…)
Now, for Charles and Camilla, over 90 percent of their income comes from a private estate, the Duchy of Cornwall, established in 1337 to provide an income to the heir to the throne. They received 20.7 million pounds from this in the most recent fiscal year ($28 million), and also received 1.3 million pounds ($1.8 million) from the Queen’s Sovereign Grant (used for official travel and property expenses) and an additional 461,000 pounds ($627,000) from various U.K. government departments (some official overseas trips and the salaries of the members of the military who protect them). Half of Charles and Camilla’s money goes to official duties and travel, a quarter goes to taxes, and the remaining quarter – 6.6 million pounds or $8.9 million – goes to William and Harry, non-official purchases, and a Royal savings account.
So, for William and Kate and Harry and Meghan – they get roughly let’s say $4 million from dad annually, and they also have private, inherited wealth from Diana’s estate. They also are reimbursed for costs when performing official duties – like official tours – on behalf of the Queen.
Part of the reason people were so pissed about Archie’s christening being private is that it came on the heels of a $3 million renovation Harry and Meghan did to their home, Frogmore Cottage, which was widely reported to be paid for by taxpayer money. In fact, the Queen gave the couple the money from the Sovereign Grant, paid for totally by the government and not by the taxpayer at all. In fact, none of the Royal Family’s money comes from taxpayers.
I am positive there is oversight as to how money from the government – the Sovereign Estate, et cetera – is spent, but as for their private money, there is no and should be no oversight. It’s theirs to do with as they wish, though I’m sure every penny is accounted for by the Royal Family.
More questions about Royal money or anything else? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and your question could end up on a Royal Potpourri!