Prince Harry and Meghan will face the ultimate test of their integrity and could be vulnerable to commercial exploitation as they attempt to make their way in the corporate world, royal experts have warned.
When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex first announced their plans to step back as senior members of the royal family earlier this month, they said they hoped to carve out “progressive, new roles” for themselves as part-royal, part-private representatives of The Firm.
“We intend to step back as senior members of the royal family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen,” they said.
But those hopes were dashed on Sunday when Buckingham Palace announced the final terms for their split.
While Harry and Meghan would be allowed to keep their titles as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, they would no longer be allowed to use their royal HRH titles nor formally represent the Queen, it said. The arrangement will be reviewed in one year's time.
“If they think they’re going to walk off into the sunset and go to North America and not be bothered by press intrusion or not be exploited by people who will have their eye on that 10 per cent cut, (they’re mistaken).”
Talent agent Jonathan Shalit said he believed the couple had the potential to make more than $1 billion if they picked the right people and companies to work with.
“They are the most valuable brand in the world, even though they’re not strictly senior royals now,” he told ITV.
“They’ll always be a member of the royal family, he’s still Prince Harry, he’ll still come back to the UK and go to events with his family, so people will regularly see pictures around the world of Prince Harry with the Queen.
“They can do television, they can do acting, they can do presenting, they can do endorsements, they can create brands, they can become directors of companies – they're free to do all of this now, which makes them incredibly valuable.”
Despite the drama, their brand power would be a huge loss for the royal family, former BBC correspondent Peter Hunt said.
“The House of Windsor have lost their two superstars. There’s none left,” he tweeted.
“It’s not a good look for an ancient institution (that relies on the hereditary principle) that two of its prominent members were desperate to break free”.
Meanwhile, Meghan’s half-sister wrote a scathing first-person piece for The Sun on Monday, saying she doubted the royal family would approve her sister’s merchandising plans.
“The royal family has always been opposed to merchandising and corporate endeavours outside of them,” Samantha Markle wrote.
“If Meghan and Harry want to honour the Queen, they will consult her before doing deals.”