Harry and Meghan have a ready-made brand which could earn them “an absolute fortune” and make them bigger than the Beckhams and Obamas, according to brand experts.
Some analysts say the couple could easily earn up to £500m in their first year of independence, their brand will be ethical and luxury on par with the Obamas and Bill Gates, and they will move to North America permanently.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said this week they were stepping down as “senior” royals, divide their time between the United Kingdom and North America, and become “financially independent”.
Experts say potential money-making areas include fashion, speaking engagements, and even forming their own production company.
Andy Barr, retail expert at price tracker website Alertr.co.uk, told Sky News the Sussexes have the potential to “dwarf” the earnings of Prince Charles, whose Duchy brand makes an estimated £100m to £200m a year.
He said: “They’re a huge brand and influencers in their own right.
“They’re going to be the most famous brand in the world – the Beckhams, Obamas, Bill Gates – they’re going to far surpass them, they’re such a major brand already.
“They’re in a really fortunate position as they won’t have to negotiate distribution deals and start from scratch because they’ll have people queuing up.
“From a retail respective, it’s a dream to be so well-known.
“I imagine they will lend their names to campaigns rather than products – the earning potential is larger as they will be given a large pot of gold just for putting their name to something.”
According to Mr Barr, coding logs on the Sussex Royal website show that work on their new online presence began in September.
In December, Harry and Meghan trademarked the “Sussex Royal” brand, including 100 items ranging from notepads and socks to counselling services.
Mr Barr added the Sussexes will most likely be a “luxury brand”, on the levels of Louis Vuitton and Burberry, but they will have to carefully balance their personal lives from a PR respective to maintain that.
He said: “The Royal Family has always had an air of mystery, which makes it so popular, and that’s the same with these luxury brands.
“But both of them have baggage – Meghan has her family who she does not speak to, and we’ve seen Prince Harry’s veil slip, for example, where he snapped at Sky’s royal correspondent for asking a normal question.
“That doesn’t fall in line with a luxury brand, they’re going to have to work hard to get that veil back.”
He predicted the couple will move permanently to North America within a year because he does not think “Canadians will compare their earning power scrutiny” as much as they would in the US and the UK.
Nick Bullen, the editor-in-chief on True Royalty TV, also believes that Harry and Meghan will have little problem achieving “financial independence”.
He said: “Brand Sussex is a global brand and could end up making an absolute fortune, from public speaking to Meghan reinventing her lifestyle blog, to merchandising or brand endorsements.”
Hollywood strategists such as Howard Bragman have warned that the Sussexes will have to choose their projects wisely because of the scrutiny they are likely to face will be “ridiculous, and not always fair”.
He explained: “The Obamas are a great model for how to make money and keep it classy. They could find projects that are moving and sometimes Meghan could be in them. If it’s a documentary, maybe Harry could narrate it.”
If they pursued the speakers’ circuit, some predict that they could command six-figure sums for a single appearance.
Harry and Meghan will face challenges, though. Although their combined Instagram following of 10 million is impressive, it pales into comparison to the likes of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, who has almost 200 million.
The rest of the royal household is understood to have been unaware the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were going to announce they will become “financially independent” royals when they dropped the bombshell on Wednesday night.
Prince Charles, the Queen and Prince William’s staff are working with the government “at pace” to find “workable solutions” to the sudden announcement they would “step back” as senior royals, according to a Buckingham Palace source.
Harry and Meghan appear to have been working towards this decision for some time, releasing an extensive website describing their new roles, including how they will deal with the media.
The Sussexes have not said exactly how they will earn money, but said they “value the ability to earn a professional income” – something they could not do as senior royals because they were partly funded by the British taxpayer.