As Prince Harry and Meghan Markle continue to expand their financial empire in the United States, they’ve had to contend with making money while still being respectful of the British royal family. Though some critics have accused the Sussexes of cashing in on their royal connections, they’re not the only members of the royal family that have courted controversy for doing the same thing.
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle’s Lucrative Prospects Make Some Nervous
Soon after Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced their intention to step back from their royal duties, Harry’s cousin, Peter Phillips, Queen Elizabeth’s oldest grandchild via her daughter Princess Anne, found himself in hot water. Phillips starred in a Chinese commercial for milk and there was an almost immediate uproar over it.
One critic, writing for Daily Mail, insisted that the stately English manor in the background in the ad was clearly trying to portray itself as Windsor Castle. The writer, A.N. Wilson, noted that Phillips had never held a title and had been raised in his mother’s home in Gloucestershire, not Windsor Castle.
“Monarchist” Worried About “Tawdry” Cash Schemes
Wilson continued, “Monarchists like myself are concerned about the tawdry ‘cashing-in’ by men such as Mr. Phillips, who behave nothing like royals and far more like low-rent celebrities chasing commercial endorsements.”
This was far from Phillips’ first offense, per the Wilson. He’d “romantically sold the ‘rights’ to his wedding” to Hello! Magazine for “an estimated £500,000,” Wilson added. This was in addition to the £750,000 his company, SEL UK, was paid to oversee Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday party in The Mall.
Phillips later defended his company against critics who claimed his connection to the Queen enabled his company to be chosen over other candidates, though he did eventually step down as a trustee of the Patron’s Fund charity that had been set up to run the event in order to avoid any conflicts of interest. Wilson wryly wrote, “That phrase about being prepared to sell your own granny leapt to mind.”
Other Royals Accused Of “Cashing-In”
Phillips’ sister, Zara, was also singled out for giving Hello! Magazine a tour of her Cotswold home in 2001 for a reported £125,000. She also reportedly sold photos of her daughter, Lena, to the same publication in 2014 for a “six-figure sum,” Wilson added.
Princess Anne’s two children aren’t the only financially rogue royals that Wilson named. Sarah Ferguson, the ex-wife of troubled Prince Andrew, had previously “accepted £500,000 from Waterford Wedgwood in exchange for, among other things, tips on how to lay a dinner table.”
Ferguson had also been caught offering access to Andrew in exchange for £500,000 to an undercover reporter pretending to be an Arab sheik in 2010. She’d allegedly promised, “I can open any door you want.”
Another royal wife, Sophie Wessex who wed Prince Edward in 1999, had to step down from her PR firm in 2001 after it was discovered that her business partner had tried to cash in on her royal connections while pursuing a contract. “There is no doubt that those who are not full-time working royals must tread a fine line in trying to make a living without being seen to exploit their royal connections,” warned Wilson.
Why Harry, Markle Should Learn From These Lessons
This brings us back to the Sussexes. Wilson continued, “Let us trust that Harry and Meghan appreciate this as they settle into a new and, they hope, lucrative life in North America.” Over the past year, both Markle and Harry have not only expanded their charitable foundation, Archwell, but they’ve also branched out into their own careers.
Both have pursued writing, with Markle recently publishing a children’s book called The Bench while Harry is still working on his upcoming memoir. Harry has also found employment with BetterUp Inc, a Silicon Valley mental health startup, and signed multi-million dollar deals with both Spotify and Netflix. So far, critics haven’t been impressed with Harry sharing his experience growing up in the royal family in such a public manner.
With his finances increasingly tied up with his confessions about royal life, some might even accuse the prince of cashing in on his background. It’s a very fine line, indeed, that Harry has in front of him, and there are unfortunately a lot of people hoping for him to slip.