Meghan was a working royal for just 76 days, but in that time she cost taxpayers a truly astonishing sum, a new audit has revealed.
In 2018, George Clooney earned $1 million-a-day. The same year, Oprah Winfrey was making about $460,000-a-day from her Weight Watchers stock alone and Serena Williams was the highest paid female athlete, pulling in about $75,000-per-day.
So, when it came to the ensemble of A-listers who frocked up and did their best not to gawp when the Queen majestically tottered past them in St George’s chapel during the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, there was a large gaggle who could command astronomical sums.
Though she might not have known it at the time, so too would the new Duchess of Sussex.
Over the weekend, Norman Baker, a former British MP and of the Privy Council (the Queen’s formal body of advisers) published an “audit” in the Daily Mail of what Harry and Meghan have cost UK taxpayers since 2018. His estimate? A staggering $81.9 million.
Baker, in his analysis, includes among other things, wedding costs, loss of tax revenue given the way the Duchy of Cornwall was established and the bill for the Sussexes’ staff.
The figures are the sort that would more normally be associated with a Kardashian or Middle Eastern Sheik’s son on a spending bender. For example, $13 million on security, $1.8 million on travel and the piece de resistance, their $62 million wedding (by contrast, William and Kate’s 2011 nuptials cost an estimated $37 million. Hardly a bargain but still …).
While British tax payers might not have got quite what they were paying for when it came to Meghan (decades of ladylike waving and cheerfully making small talk in regional rec centres) the argument can be made they got something far more valuable.
There is no doubt that the nascence of the Sussexes has indelibly changed the royal family. “Inclusive” and “race” were not words ever used in the same sentence as the whitebread Windsors pre-Meghan’s arrival on the scene.
While Sophie Countess of Wessex has been quietly and impressively working on addressing sexual and gender-based violence, it was Meghan who put gender equality front and centre of a royal agenda, thereby shining a global light on the issue.
Each time that Harry and Meghan challenged the status quo, whether wisely or not, they were catalysts for starting conversations about things such as what privacy and normality should mean for the Queen’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Most profoundly, Meghan revitalised global interest in the monarchy. She made the royal family not only relevant but interesting for a generation who otherwise would have been hard-pressed to pick Prince Charles out of a line-up of 70-something aristocrats wearing three-piece suits.
Buckingham Palace is currently undergoing a $687 million renovation, paid for by an increase in the Sovereign Grant. It’s work that was desperately needed to bring the 300 plus-year-old building into the 21st century.
Exactly the same thing can be said for the $81 million that Meghan “cost” – a lot of money that needed to be spent to drag the royal family into the 21st century.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with 15 years experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.