Harry and Meghan’s Netflix documentary adds to the growing media empire

Harry and Meghan’s Netflix documentary adds to the growing media empire

  • Business
  • December 9, 2022
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When Prince Harry and Meghan stepped down from royal duties in 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were soon faced with a pressing question: how do they make a living?

Though they were doing well by ordinary standards, Forbes last year put their net worth at a fairly modest $10 million, including the remains of Harry’s inheritance from his mother, Princess Diana, and the equity the couple has in their California mansion. They were also financially cut off from the British Crown’s estimated $34 billion estate.

The answer, ironically, was to capitalize on the public’s fascination with the glamorous couple who dared to escape the royal family’s gilded cage, along with the incessant media scrutiny that their official roles entailed. And despite the mixed critical response to her new Netflix documentary series Harry & Meghan, what’s certain is that the company has made her a lot richer.

Here’s what is known about the wealth and income streams of the pioneering royals.

Harry’s legacy

Prince Harry told Oprah last year that the couple had “no plan” when they moved to California in 2020, relying solely on his inheritance from Princess Diana, who died in a car accident in 1997.

“I have everything my mother left me and without that we wouldn’t be able to do this,” Harry told Oprah.

According to the Independent, Diana left an estate worth almost £13million to be shared between her two sons, which grew to £20million when they were legally able to access it at the age of 30. That means Harry’s stake was around £10million. or $12.2 million at current exchange rates.

That money was partially offset by the $3million they paid back for renovations to the couple’s UK homes – a cost initially borne by UK taxpayers.

Harry and Meghan have about $5 million in equity for their Montecito, California mansion, which carries a nearly $10 million mortgage, though they are reportedly planning to move, according to TMZ.

Meghan’s acting

Before the couple married, Meghan was an actress, then known as Meghan Markle, and ran a lifestyle blog. The majority of her earnings came from her appearances on the USA Network drama series Suits, for which she was paid $50,000 an episode.

According to the Independent, she entered the marriage with a net worth of about $5 million.

Netflix deal

Following their break with the royal family, Harry and Meghan founded Archewell Productions, a spin-off of their non-profit organization, with the stated aim of “creating programming that informs, uplifts and inspires”. The company signed a multi-year production deal with Netflix estimated to be worth between $100 million and $150 million, according to Deadline and Us Weekly.

The first three episodes of her first documentary series – an intimate look into her personal life – were released this week.

As part of the multi-year deal with Netflix, the pair will produce documentaries, scripted shows, feature films and children’s programs, though they have said reality shows are off, according to Town & Country. A series in development follows participants in the Invictus Games, a charity Harry founded that offers sporting events to injured military veterans, CNN reported last year.

But Meghan’s planned animated series, known by the working title “Pearl,” was one of several programs the streaming service dropped this year due to cuts.

Harry and Meghan detail life in the British royal family in new Netflix documentaries 04:12

A memory with penguin

Harry’s memoir, Spare, which the Associated Press called “an object of obsessive expectation,” is scheduled for publication by Penguin Random House next month. According to the publisher, the book will provide “raw, unflinching honesty” as well as “insight, revelation, self-examination and hard-won wisdom about love’s eternal power over grief.”

Harry received a $20 million advance when he sold the book last year, Page Six reported. The deal includes up to three more books by the couple, as reported by Vanity Fair. The publisher has also agreed to make two charitable donations totaling $1.6 million as part of the deal, the BBC reported.

Meghan also published a children’s book, The Bench, last year. It’s not known how much she was paid for it, but a branding expert told the Daily Mail the advance could be as high as $600,000.

Spotify Podcasts

Through Archewell Audio, Meghan and Harry also produce podcasts for the Spotify streaming service as part of a three-year deal. Meghan’s first podcast with the company, a series called Archetypes, has featured guests Judd Apatow, Amanda Gorman, Mindy Kaling, Issa Rae and Serena Williams. This week, the series won the People’s Choice Award for Podcasting.

Forbes and the New York Post have put the deal’s value at between $15 million and $25 million — a stark contrast to what most developers make on the platform, which often amounts to a fraction of a cent per stream.

The couple also have many other creative endeavors, the financial value of which is unknown. Before Harry left the royal family, he had struck a deal with Oprah to executive produce an Apple TV series on mental health. Harry and Meghan have also signed with voice agency Harry Walker, whose list of A-listers includes the Clintons, the Obamas and Oprah.

Sure, the young couple and their two children are likely to have significant expenses, not the least of which is security services. Given that reality and the uncertain value of some recent mega deals, estimates of her net worth vary wildly – from just $10 million according to Forbes to $60 million according to Hello and Women’s Health Magazine.

But as a burgeoning media empire takes shape, it’s likely that number will rise sharply in the years to come.

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