Furious Palace Insiders Say Meghan and Harry's Move Is "All About Money"
According to one source, the Sussexes "want to have their cake and eat it, too. ... This is all about money."
The aftershocks in the wake of the stunning announcement that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle plan to "step back" from their duties as senior royals just keep coming. Hours after announcing their shocking split from the royal family, the couple launched their new website, SussexRoyal.com, where they offered some jaw-dropping insight into the financial considerations that went into their decision to give up their prescribed royal roles. And sources tell me it all comes down to money.
"They basically said, 'We're not making enough off of being royals within the system, so we want out," said one Palace insider. "They are clearly aware they are more popular outside the U.K. than they are in Britain and have astutely decided there's a lot more money to be made as international celebrities. They want to have their cake and eat it, too. What happened to wanting more privacy? This is all about money."
In the "Funding" section of their new website, Harry and Meghan (in the third person) bemoan the fact that they have been unable to earn their own money under the current system. Under the question "Why are The Duke and Duchess of Sussex choosing this new working model?" they lay out the following response:
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex take great pride in their work and are committed to continuing their charitable endeavours as well as establishing new ones. In addition, they value the ability to earn a professional income, which in the current structure they are prohibited from doing. For this reason they have made the choice to become members of the Royal Family with financial independence. Their Royal Highnesses feel this new approach will enable them to continue to carry out their duties for Her Majesty the Queen, while having the future financial autonomy to work externally. While the contribution from The Sovereign Grant covers just five percent of costs for The Duke and Duchess and is specifically used for their official office expense, Their Royal Highnesses prefer to release this financial tie.
While Harry and Meghan mention they are giving up their taxpayer-funded income from The Sovereign Grant, they do not address the undisclosed income they could receive from Prince Charles' Duchy of Cornwall estate, which, according to The Daily Mail, is said to be worth £1.2 billion. "They are making a big show of giving up what is probably the smallest amount of income they current make," sniffed one Palace insider. "They can, and in all likelihood will, continue to receive funding from Charles. They just want to be free of the perception they are living on public money."
My source said the couple's intent to "live like jet-setting celebrities instead of royals" will undoubtedly prove quite lucrative outside of the United Kingdom, but within Britain, it's more fodder for their detractors and puts Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles in a "very difficult situation."
The Queen is said to be "furious" over the couple's announcement, which she was not made aware of in advance. She is still on holiday since she doesn't usually return from Sandringham until early February and is spending time with the Duke of Edinburgh, who is not in the best of health. "After a difficult end to 2019, this is incredibly poor timing," my insider said. "This is quite shocking for so many reasons."
According to several media outlets, no member of the royal family was told of Harry and Meghan's decision about giving up their official royal roles prior to their announcement on Instagram.
"If this were 20 years ago, they'd be shown the door. When Princess Diana tried to out-maneuver the Queen and announced she was keeping her HRH title after the divorce before Her Majesty issued a statement, it was taken away immediately," said my source. "Harry and Meghan are playing high stakes poker by declaring they're are going to live by their own rules without consulting the Queen and announcing their elaborate and clearly well-thought out plan. They want to become the world's biggest lifestyle brand. If they are allowed to do so, the monarchy as we know it will cease to exist and a new celebritized royal family is about to take over."
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.