Sussexes to face ultimate 12 month test
Prince Harry and Meghan will face the ultimate test of their integrity in the next 12 months as they attempt to make their own 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.
In the end, the British public had not liked the idea of the hybrid roles, the Telegraph's royal editor Camilla Tominey said.
"This idea of them remaining half in and half out of the royal family - some have dubbed that the 'cake and eat it scenario' - just simply hasn't been able to be accomplished," she told ITV's This Morning program on Monday.
"It was unprecedented. There was a public backlash … continuing to be funded in any way by the taxpayer was unpopular. I think the sense that they could have it both ways was never quite going to wash."
Attention has now turned to how the couple will make money, Tominey said.
Prince Harry and Meghan have already applied to trademark their Sussex Royal brand, which could see them release their own line of books, calendars and clothing in the future.
But at one point during the Megxit negotiations the Queen considered stripping Prince Harry of his Duke of Sussex title, according to The Evening Standard, meaning the couple could still be asked to rebrand.
"It remains to be seen whether they'll be able to keep that royal aspect because for all intents and purposes, they are not carrying out any engagements on behalf of the Queen or their military appointments," Tominey said.
"They are keeping their private patronages and their charitable work to themselves as they go off and have this new life in North America."
She also warned the couple would be prime targets for exploitation.
"I think the worry is sometimes in life you've got to be careful what you wish for," she said.
"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."