Advertisement
UK markets closed
  • NIKKEI 225

    38,633.02
    +62.26 (+0.16%)
     
  • HANG SENG

    18,335.32
    -95.07 (-0.52%)
     
  • CRUDE OIL

    81.85
    +0.28 (+0.34%)
     
  • GOLD FUTURES

    2,368.70
    +21.80 (+0.93%)
     
  • DOW

    38,993.94
    +159.08 (+0.41%)
     
  • Bitcoin GBP

    51,218.36
    -80.51 (-0.16%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    1,350.26
    -32.40 (-2.34%)
     
  • NASDAQ Composite

    17,769.74
    -92.49 (-0.52%)
     
  • UK FTSE All Share

    4,508.44
    +35.07 (+0.78%)
     

Rated: Harry and Meghan’s business hits... and misses

A resounding success or a royal flop?

<p>Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images</p>

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been rather busy since bidding farewell to the British Royal Family. While they boast an estimated combined net worth of $60 million (£47m), they're no longer able to rely on the royal purse strings since 2020's shock "Megxit" and have launched a series of money-spinning ventures to fund their luxe lifestyle in Montecito, California.

But are these post-palace pursuits proving to be a resounding success or a royal flop? We've examined and rated each of their entrepreneurial escapades so far on a scale of one to five.

ADVERTISEMENT

From the release of Harry's bombshell memoir Spare to the couple's controversial Spotify deal, read on for the inside story on Harry and Meghan's biggest business hits and misses to date.

All dollar amounts in US dollars, unless otherwise stated.

Netflix deal: a strong start

<p>Taylor Hill/WireImage</p>

Taylor Hill/WireImage

In September 2020, mere months after stepping down as working royals, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their first major business venture – creating content for Netflix in a multi-year deal reportedly worth a whopping $100 million (£79m). To date, the couple has delivered three documentaries for the streaming giant via their company, Archewell Productions.

The first project, titled Harry & Meghan, was released in 2022 and offered an intimate glimpse into the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's post-royal lives. Also released in 2022, Live to Lead explored the life stories of influential figures such as Greta Thunberg and Gloria Steinem.

Finally, 2023’s Heart of Invictus chronicled the journey of veterans preparing for the Invictus Games, the multi-sport event founded by Prince Harry for wounded and sick servicemen and women.

Netflix deal: one-trick ponies?

<p>Taylor Hill/WireImage</p>

Taylor Hill/WireImage

The inaugural project, Harry & Meghan (pictured), was a huge hit. It became the most-watched premiere for a Netflix show in 2022, with the public evidently hungry to hear Harry dish the dirt on his feud with the Royal Family. However, both Live to Lead and Heart of Invictus flopped, failing to get into the Netflix top 10 chart in either the UK or the US.

According to the Wall Street Journal, several shows pitched by the royal couple were rejected by Netflix and branded "big ideas with sub-par execution". This includes two fictional series that were deemed too similar to Netflix hits Emily in Paris and Heartstopper, as well as an animated series called Pearl, which was set to star Meghan but was axed ahead of production.

This led to suggestions that the Sussexes were only really capable of creating content about one thing: royal drama.

Despite these setbacks, Harry and Meghan have two new projects in the pipeline: a sports documentary about the world of professional polo and a lifestyle series centred around cooking, gardening, and entertaining.

Netflix deal: the verdict

<p>Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)</p>

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

We're giving Harry and Meghan’s Netflix partnership a respectable success rating of three out of five.

While the deal has undoubtedly been a money-spinner for the couple, their content has met with mixed reviews. And with rumours swirling that their contract might not be renewed when it expires in 2025 due to concerns over "productivity", the Sussexes might need to up their game if they want to keep riding the Netflix gravy train.

Spotify deal: famous friends

<p>Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images</p>

Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Speaking of partnerships that came to a dramatic end, Harry and Meghan announced a flashy $20 million (£16m) deal to create audio content for Spotify in December 2020.

As part of the deal, Meghan released her Archetypes podcast in August 2022. The series centred around the stereotypes that get levelled against women and featured a slew of famous guests, including tennis ace Serena Williams, actress Mindy Kaling, and pop star Mariah Carey.

However, by June 2023, Spotify and the Sussexes had ended their partnership after just one season of Archetypes. A joint statement claimed the decision was "mutual", but it soon transpired that the business breakup was anything but amicable...

Spotify deal: a bitter break-up

<p>Heather Kennedy/Getty Images for SXSW</p>

Heather Kennedy/Getty Images for SXSW

Later that same month, Spotify executive Bill Simmons (pictured) sensationally branded Harry and Meghan "grifters" during an episode of his eponymous podcast. Not afraid to hold back, Simmons also claimed he was "embarrassed" to work with Prince Harry.

"What does he do? It’s one of those things where it’s like, what’s your talent?” said Simmons. “Why are we listening to you? So you were born into a royal family, and then you left... You sell documentaries and podcasts, and nobody cares what you have to say about anything unless you talk about the royal family, and you just complain about them.”

According to reports, Harry pitched a range of questionable podcast ideas to Spotify, including a series that would see him interview global leaders such as Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump about childhood trauma.

Spotify deal: the verdict

<p>Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Images</p>

Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Images

Not only did Simmons' "grifter" comments damage the couple's reputation, but the pair also failed to receive the full $20 million (£16m) payout after failing to meet the streamer's productivity benchmarks.

Meghan has since signed a new deal with media company Lemonada Media to create a podcast series. However, her content is not set to debut until 2025 at the earliest, with the Duchess reportedly concentrating efforts on her newly launched lifestyle brand (more on that soon).

Unsurprisingly, we're awarding Harry and Meghan's Spotify venture a lowly one out of five.

BetterUp: a new role

<p>Handout/Sport Gives Back Awards via Getty Images</p>

Handout/Sport Gives Back Awards via Getty Images

In March 2021, Prince Harry announced his new role as chief impact officer at BetterUp, a mental health start-up.

The California-based company, founded in 2013, offers a mobile app that connects people to coaches and counsellors. Harry himself claims he's worked with a coach and found the experience "invaluable".

Harry's role, for which he's reportedly paid a hefty seven-figure sum, includes promoting mental fitness to expand the company's roster of coaches and customers.

BetterUp: questionable impact

<p>SUSANA MENDOZA/AFP via Getty Images</p>

SUSANA MENDOZA/AFP via Getty Images

However, after a large chunk of the workforce was laid off in August 2023, BetterUp staff were reportedly less than glowing in their verdict of Harry's impact on the business.

According to The Daily Beast, when asked about the royal's day-to-day responsibilities one staff member savagely replied: "From what I see, I'm going to go with zero things." Another stated that when it came to the prince, "the juice isn't worth the squeeze." Ouch...

Pictured is the BetterUp headquarters in San Francisco, shuttered during the pandemic.

BetterUp: the verdict

<p>Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images</p>

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Harry's reported seven-figure salary undoubtedly benefits the Sussexes' bank balance and helps fund their lavish Montecito lifestyle. It's also unfair to lay the blame for BetterUp's wider problems at the feet of the prince; reports suggest he helped close a number of deals for the tech firm. However, the partnership has done little to burnish either party's reputation.

As a result, we're scoring this particular project two out of five.

Investments: Ethic

<p>SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images</p>

SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images

In 2021, Harry and Meghan became "impact partners" and investors in ethical investment firm Ethic. The company advises wealthy clients on how to invest money more sustainably, with a focus on issues including climate change and human rights.

In an interview with the New York Times, Meghan said: "From the world I come from, you don't talk about investing, right? You don't have the luxury to invest. That sounds so fancy."

Highlighting why she wanted to invest in Ethic, she added: "My husband has been saying for years, 'Gosh, don't you wish there was a place where, if your values were aligned like this, you could put your money to that same sort of thing?'"

Investments: Clevr

<p>Courtesy clevrblends.com</p>

Courtesy clevrblends.com

Meghan has also invested in California-based wellness coffee brand Clevr. She's even starred in a commercial for the company, playing the role of an intern in her first acting gig since her pre-royal Suits days.

Speaking to Fortune about her investment, the Duchess expressed her admiration for Clevr's CEO and co-founder, Hannah Mendoza: "This investment is in support of a passionate female entrepreneur who prioritises building community alongside her business," she said. "I'm proud to invest in Hannah's commitment to sourcing ethical ingredients and creating a product that I personally love and that has a holistic approach to wellness."

Investments: the verdict

<p>Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage</p>

Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage

Both Ethic and Clevr align with the couple's stated values, which could give their image a valuable boost. However, it's hard to estimate how much these investments have benefited Harry and Meghan financially.

Clevr has attracted several million dollars in funding, a valuable endorsement from Oprah Winfrey and some positive reviews but it's early days for the start-up. Ethic, meanwhile, claims to have "transitioned more than $4.5 billion into sustainable strategies".

For now, we're awarding Harry and Meghan's investment strategy a cautious three out of five.

Harry the author: an instant hit

<p>JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images</p>

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

In January 2023, Prince Harry released his bombshell memoir Spare, offering unprecedented insight into royal life.

Despite being controversial – especially in the UK – due to several explosive claims about the Royal Family, Spare was an instant hit. It became the fastest-selling non-fiction book of all time, selling over 1.4 million copies across the UK, US, and Canada on its release day.

Meanwhile, the audiobook version, which was narrated by Harry himself, became the top-selling title on Audible following its release.

Harry the author: more to come?

<p>JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images</p>

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

In addition to its commercial success, the book significantly boosted Harry's bank balance, with experts predicting he likely made in excess of $27 million (£22m) for the juicy memoir. Not bad for a spare.

On top of that, the royal has inked a four-book deal with Penguin Random House, reportedly worth $40 million (£32m), though details about his upcoming publishing projects remain under wraps.

Harry the author: the verdict

<p>JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images</p>

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

The book did spark a backlash over some of its more sensational claims, with many critics and royal watchers levelling accusations that the revelations were too personal and damaging to Harry's reputation and his relationship with the Royal Family.

However, it's easily the Sussexes' most triumphant business venture to date. As a result, we're awarding Spare a solid five out of five.

Meghan the author: a modest debut

<p>Leon Neal/Getty Images</p>

Leon Neal/Getty Images

Meghan Markle also ventured into the world of publishing in June 2021 with the release of her children's book, The Bench. The book explores the bond between fathers and sons as seen through a mother's eyes. Aimed at children, the story was based on a poem she penned for Harry on Father's Day, following the birth of their son, Archie.

In contrast to Harry's record-breaking memoir, The Bench achieved a more modest level of success. The book sold around 3,000 copies in the UK during its first week of release, a figure that pales in comparison to the 750,000 copies Spare shifted in the UK in its first seven days.

It also received mixed critical reviews. Some praised its touching message and inclusive illustrations, while others criticised its simple storytelling and perceived lack of originality.

Meghan the author: a bombshell memoir?

<p>Leon Neal/Getty Images</p>

Leon Neal/Getty Images

As for the financial success of The Bench, reports suggest Meghan received a modest $700,000 (£550k) advance.

While this figure is significantly lower than Harry's earnings from Spare, reports have suggested Meghan could potentially make millions if she published her own bombshell memoir.

Rumours have long circulated that Meghan is tipped to do just that, with an autobiography based on the diaries she penned as a working royal. Watch this space...

Meghan the author: the verdict

<p>Leon Neal/Getty Images</p>

Leon Neal/Getty Images

Considering The Bench's mixed critical reception, subpar sales, and modest advance, we're giving this particular venture two out of five.

While the book failed to achieve the success that Spare enjoyed, it's helped establish Meghan as an author and has arguably opened doorways for the Duchess to potentially publish more lucrative books in the future.

American Riviera Orchard: the first product

<p>BASHIERA PARKER/AFP via Getty Images</p>

BASHIERA PARKER/AFP via Getty Images

Meghan recently launched her latest business venture, the luxury lifestyle brand American Riviera Orchard (ARO).

The brand debuted its first product, a line of artisanal jams, in April. Meghan promoted the launch by sending a limited-edition line of 50 jars to some of her high-profile friends, including actress Mindy Kaling, model and influencer Chrissy Teigen, and Keeping Up with the Kardashians star Kris Jenner.

Experts quoted by the Daily Mail suggested Meghan likely made the 50 jars of jam herself "with her own hands using ingredients from Montecito" as part of a soft launch strategy for ARO. This approach is seemingly designed to highlight the brand "rather than herself", and generate a buzz in influencer circles.

American Riviera Orchard: Meghan in a jam?

<p>Samir Hussein/WireImage</p>

Samir Hussein/WireImage

However, like many of the Sussexes' money-making ventures, the launch of ARO has not been without controversy. The brand has faced allegations of copying other high-profile lifestyle companies, including Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop and King Charles's Duchy Originals brand.

Critics have pointed out similarities between ARO's advertising and Goop's, with some even accusing Meghan of "copying" Paltrow "down to the lemons" in her brand's promotional materials.

Meanwhile, comparisons have been drawn between ARO and Duchy Originals, the organic food brand founded by King Charles, which also sells preserves.

American Riviera Orchard: the verdict

<p>Samir Hussein/WireImage</p>

Samir Hussein/WireImage

It's worth noting that Meghan previously ran a moderately successful lifestyle blog called The Tig before meeting Prince Harry. The Tig, which operated between 2014 and 2017, covered a wide range of topics and turned over a modest profit of $80,000 (£63k) annually.

ARO could potentially achieve far higher revenues given Meghan's global recognition as the Duchess of Sussex, but as it currently stands, we're awarding it two out of five.

 

And the final score is...

<p>Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation</p>

Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation

Based on our ratings for each of their projects so far, we're giving Harry and Meghan's business ventures to date an overall score of two and a half out of five. There's clearly more work that needs to be done before they can join the ranks of the super-rich, but a well-timed royal memoir could just do the trick.

Now discover how King Charles makes his money, and find out more about a recent financial controversy