The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are making a break for it, snapping off the strings of the public purse – but can they really forge a new financial way of life?
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, have made a bold move announcing their move towards a more financially independent life. They intend to completely step back as senior members of the Royal Family, and therefore the duties assigned to their Royal roles, meaning that they will no longer receive funding through the Sovereign Grant. According to their official website, this is “something they look forward to.” They have also committed to paying back the £2.4 million used to refurbish their UK home Frogmore Cottage, and they will also pay “commercial rent” on the property.
So far, they have received 95% of their funds from Prince Harry and William’s father, HRH The Prince of Wales – generated through another financial system called the Duchy of Cornwall. The remaining 5% is funded by the public through the Sovereign Grant.
The Sovereign Grant Act 2011 came into effect on 1 April 2012, and as gov.uk states, “It sets the single grant supporting the monarch’s official business, enabling The Queen to discharge her duties as Head of State. It meets the central staff costs and running expenses of Her Majesty’s official household – such things as official receptions, investitures, garden parties and so on. It also covers maintenance of the Royal Palaces in England and the cost of travel to carry out royal engagements such as opening buildings and other royal visits. In exchange for this public support, The Queen surrenders the revenue from The Crown Estate to the government.”
Essentially, the Queen gives the government the revenue made from the Crown Estate in exchange for a sum of money, provided by the public. The Sovereign Grant for 2020-21 will be £85.9 million.
The size of the Sovereign Grant for a given year is usually equal to 25% of The Crown Estate’s profit for the financial year two years prior. For example, The Grant for the years 2019-2020 is linked to the profit of the years 2017-2018. You can read more about this here.
A segment from the Royal couple’s original statement reads: “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution.” They have also maintained the fact that “public funding has never been used, nor would it ever be used for private expenditure by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who also do not receive any tax privileges.”
In a recent speech given at a charity event in London, The Duke of Sussex said: “What I want to make clear is we’re not walking away, and we certainly aren’t walking away from you. Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible. I’ve accepted this, knowing that it doesn’t change who I am or how committed I am.”
However, the question still remains – how exactly will the Royal couple forge this new independent way of life? They are accustomed to a certain lifestyle, and some have raised questions have been raised over how they will afford their new way of life.
Many have speculated over what the couple will do next, Meghan – the Duchess of Sussex, is an ex-actor who rose to fame on the hit TV show “Suits” and the couple have both partnered with a number of charities in the past. However, they have both made a commitment to “continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty,” so regardless of their independence, it is clear that they are still a part of the Royal Family, and will remain under scrutiny, even if not as intense.