Meghan and Harry’s lucrative life after ‘Megxit’
THEY'RE leaving their full-time roles as British royals as they "work to become financially independent" - and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stand to make millions of dollars from doing so.
While the couple's dramatic "Megxit" from the royal family is still the subject of "very constrictive discussions" with the Queen, they are already planning their careers as Harry and Meghan Inc.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex could command six-figures for speaking engagements and ink endorsement deals worth millions, experts say.
A US-based talent manager told News Corp that Prince Harry and Meghan could charge as much as $US400,000 per speaking appearance.
"They are two of the biggest celebrities in the world, have massive brand recognition, and will be able to charge top-dollar," he added, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Prince Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, are said to be taking advice from talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, whose own empire is worth $US2.6 billion, according to Forbes.
Oprah's interests span magazines, a TV network and her own shows, and could be a similar model for the royals to follow as they negotiate their post-royal careers, including in Hollywood.
Royals and talent experts have also likened Prince Meghan and Harry's appeal - and potential talent fees - to that of former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama.
They are said to be worth $US40 million according to a 2018 report, published by the Evening Standard.
The former First Couple inked a multi-year deal with Netflix to executive produce scripted and unscripted content, under the couple's Higher Ground Productions banner (Obama even appeared in an episode of David Letterman's Netflix series, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction).
Barack and Michelle also each signed book deals with Penguin Random House, worth $US65 million according to Variety.
As for Prince Harry and Meghan? A deal for the Duchess of Sussex to perform voiceovers for Disney - in exchange for the studio making a donation to Elephants Without Borders - is said to be almost finalised.
And it's not only charitable enterprises that the royals are eyeing - they also stand to make serious cash through their own businesses and endorsements.
Last year, Prince Harry and Meghan applied to register 100 trademarks under the "Sussex Royal" brand, spanning merchandise, clothing, stationery, educational and charitable endeavors and potentially a newspaper or magazine.
A global trademark application - submitted to the World Intellectual Property Organisation - last month spanned Australia, the UK, Canada, Europe and in United States.
Meghan's influence in the fashion industry is also likely to be a source of income. She already launched a capsule collection for charity Smart Works, sold at UK department store Marks and Spencer.
Discussions are said to be "well underway" between the Duchess of Sussex and brands including French luxury label Givenchy, which designed her wedding dress.
These deals could be worth "millions" of dollars as the former Suits star eyes a post-royal career in fashion, The Sun reported.
Givenchy - the luxury label that designed her wedding dress - is among the brands that Meghan has already spoken with.
"Meghan is very connected in the fashion industry and there are a lot of major labels who would like to partner with her on projects," a source told The Sun.
"There have already been active discussions with Givenchy. Some of these deals could be worth millions of pounds."
The Duchess of Sussex frequently wears Givenchy, including to red carpet occasions, and she made a surprise appearance at the 2018 British Fashion Awards to honour Givenchy designer, Clare Waight Keller.
Another brand alignment for Meghan may also lie in an ongoing association with either American or British Vogue, the later of which she guest edited the September issue last year.
For it, Meghan - who once had her own lifestyle blog titled The Tig (it closed when she became a royal-in-waiting) - interviewed Ms Obama and featured Australian supermodel Adut Akech, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and Hollywood actor and activist, Jane Fonda.
But one massive hurdle for the Prince Harry and his former Hollywood actor wife is their public image, which has taken a huge hit after the "Megxit" backlash.
"The biggest hurdle for extremely high profile people is managing their private versus public lives," crisis management expert Peter Wilkinson said.
"That, so far, has been the burning issue for Harry and Meghan … they mustn't pretend to be someone they are not, which is Meghan's current reputation," Mr Wilkinson told News Corp.
"These two are smart, and the royals have learnt a lot since the clumsy Fergie days.
"And Harry is far cleverer and more dynamic than Prince Andrew. That doesn't mean he won't make mistakes, but his charm will carry him a long way."
Royal expert Giselle Bastin said the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were in a position to earn "big dollars" on the celebrity speaking circuit "much like the Obamas and Clintons".
"Only time will tell how long they will be in demand, however, because unlike the Obamas and Clintons they haven't actually been in a position of actual power on the world stage," Ms Bastin - an associate professor at Flinders University and British royals expert - told News Corp.
"It is hard to assess what their 'worth' will be, and a risk, of course, that without their full royal status," she added.
"They will supposedly be free to write books in order to 'survive', though this backfired for Fergie.
"What the value of their marketing wares will be is, as yet, an unknown."
The very public "Megxit" saga - played out in the British and US tabloids - was a "lose-lose" in terms of public relations for the royal couple.
"No break from the centre of the royal court was going to go unnoticed, and it was certainly never going to be uncontroversial," Ms Bastin said.
"Brand Sussex might suffer the further it strays from the royal fold. This latest development might be a slippery slope into Kardashian world for the royal pair."
(Of course, Andy Cohen - the executive producer of the lucrative Real Housewives reality TV franchise - joked that the royals have an open invitation to join the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.)
Ms Bastin continued: "I'm not sure that the money side of things is the central facet of Harry's and Meghan's decision to step away; quite simply, they'd had enough of being on the frontline of the royal firm, and unless they'd done something relatively drastic like this, they were destined to plod along as famous, but not inner circle in terms of line of succession royals, for the rest of their days.
"Clearly, they've decided that this is not for them."