Harry and Meghan are quitting the castle, but who’s going to pay for the butler?



Now, full stop. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are taking a flier; they’re looking for new digs and new gigs across the pond.

The couple dramatically announced Wednesday evening that they would be “stepping back” from royal duties and split their time between the United Kingdom and North America — which most suspect means Canada.

They said they wanted to become “financially independent,” stating that they “value the ability to earn a professional income.” But no one is sure how cleanly they’re cutting the cord or how else they plan to generate income.

On their shiny new website, Sussexroyal.com, they explain they will no longer accept money from the taxpayer-funded Sovereign Fund, which has covered 5 percent of their expenses.

They are silent on whether they will continue to get support from Harry’s father, Prince Charles. Last year, Charles paid the Sussexes around $6.5 million from funds he receives via his Duchy of Cornwall estate, covering what they said were 95 percent of their costs.

Either way, they shouldn’t have to worry too much about paying the bills. According to British press reports, Harry’s net worth is estimated to be around $39 million, most of it inherited from his mother, Princess Diana, and his great-grandmother, the Queen Mother. Meghan’s net worth is estimated to be around $5 million, much of it coming from her acting role on the TV series “Suits.”

The Sussexes seem to be chafing against the arrangements for so-called senior royals, who regularly carry out duties on behalf of the queen, and are not allowed to take an outside salary. They don’t endorse products. They don’t get paid to speak. They also don’t pay taxes.

But if they are no longer senior members of the royal family, Harry and Meghan won’t face the same restrictions. Like Harry’s cousins, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, they will be able to hold a royal title and a paid job.

Harry and Meghan are also seeking a more active role in selecting which journalists have access to them.

The couple said they would no longer take part in Buckingham Palace’s royal rota, in place for decades, which gives accredited journalists from places including the Daily Express, the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, the Evening Standard, the Telegraph, the Times and the Sun access to official events, on a pooled sharing basis. This is meant to limit disruption at events.

It is no secret that Harry and Meghan loathe the tabloids.

In fact, they’ve sued them — twice — over phone hacking and copyright infringement.

And in interviews, Harry has blamed paparazzi for his mother’s death. Diana died in a Paris tunnel, as her speeding car, driven by a chauffeur who had been drinking, crashed as they fled photographers on motorcycles.

“The current system predates the dramatic transformation of news reporting in the digital age,” Harry and Meghan’s website says.

Instead, the couple say they would like to engage with “young, up-and-coming journalists,” alongside “credible media” and “specialist media.” They also plan to bypass the news media and speak to the public directly through their social media accounts.

Roy Greenslade, a media commentator, said that it’s possible that things won’t get necessarily easier for the couple. He imagined that “ceaseless and relentless” media interest will only increase when the couple make the transition into their new roles inside and outside the royal family, known to insiders as The Firm.

Greenslade said Diana endured more attacks by the British tabloids after her divorce from Charles, in part because she didn’t have the same access to protection officers when she was outside the royal family bubble.

Despite some notable exceptions, Greenslade said that much of the coverage of Harry and Meghan in the mainstream news media has been largely sympathetic, despite their protests to the contrary.

And when they attend royal events, they are usually greeted with adoration and adulation. You never hear boos or catcalls when Harry and Meghan greet the crowds, he said.

“If you’re the world’s most famous family,” Greenslade said, referring to the British royals, “you’re going to get interest, you’re going to get media involvement.”

The couple’s decision to fly the royal coop has been met with applause and dismay.

The BBC’s royal correspondent reported that “no other member of the Royal Family was consulted before Harry and Meghan issued their personal statement [and] the Palace is understood to be ‘disappointed.’ ”

It was clear from the beginning that Harry and Meghan would try to carve out their own path.

In November 2016, the first time that Harry acknowledged that he was in a relationship with Meghan Markle, then an actress on the legal drama “Suits,” he did so with a highly unusual statement that said sections of the media had “crossed” a line with its “racial undertones” and “outright sexism.” Meghan is biracial.

“This is not a game,” Harry said.

The couple have rarely been out of the headlines since that statement — and newspapers, especially British tabloids, can giveth and taketh away. Meghan received oodles of positive coverage in the lead-up to her nuptials, with many hoping that she would help to modernize the royal family. The press also went gaga over their baby Archie.

But the couple, too, were criticized for being too private, for not giving enough of themselves to the media. They initially withheld details about where Archie was born and didn’t reveal the names of his godparents, facts normally made public.

Meghan was also criticized by some columnists for her clothes, for eating avocado on toast, for not wearing tights, and for closing her own car door.

But for everyone who carped, more praised them.

The couple were criticized for the taxpayer money they spent on renovating their home, Frogmore Cottage at the Windsor Castle estate. But the $3 million refurbishment was relative peanuts in a high-priced market, where a one-bedroom flat can fetch $1 million.

And then there was the reported rift between the Sussexes and the Cambridges — Harry’s brother Prince William and his wife Catherine — which some blamed on Meghan.

Initially, the two couples appeared close. In February 2018, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, appeared together in support of the Royal Foundation, a charity originally set up by Harry and William in 2009. They chatted. They laughed onstage. They were quickly dubbed the “Fab Four.”

In the summer, palace officials announced that Harry and Meghan were leaving that partnership and would set up their own charitable vehicle.

The couples also moved apart, physically. Harry and Meghan initially lived in an apartment at Kensington Palace in London, where William and Catherine live with their three children. They later moved to Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, a residence they say they would like to continue to make their home when they are in the U.K.

The Sussexes said that move was prompted by the need for renovation at their apartment in Kensington Palace, and the renovations at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor would be less expensive.

In the fall, when Harry was asked about a reported rift between him and William, he told ITV that the two were “on different paths at the moment.”

In the same documentary, Meghan hinted that she wanted more than the status quo.

“It’s not enough to just survive something; that’s not the point of life,” she said. “You’ve got to thrive, you’ve got to feel happy.”



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