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Prince Harry, Meghan Markle a ratings coup for CBS; finances under scrutiny

Alexandra Canal
·4-min read

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sat down with Oprah Winfrey for a two-hour tell-air special on Sunday, which offered a look at the couple's life one year since leaving the royal family.

The special drew in 17.14 million viewers, according to early Nielsen figures, and earned a 2.6 rating among adults age 18-49. The numbers are expected to grow even more as adjusted data, out-of-home viewing and delayed viewing metrics trickle in over the next several days.

Besides the post-Super Bowl premiere of Queen Latifah's "The Equalizer," which saw 20.4 million viewers, "Oprah With Meghan and Harry" was the biggest audience for any non-sports program of the 2020-2021 TV season so far.

The couple's polarizing departure from the House of Windsor had a significant impact on their finances, which stand to see a windfall from various business ventures. Jointly, the couple is currently worth $10 million, according to Forbes, with a sizable portion lying in the equity of their nearly $15 million California mansion. For context, Queen Elizabeth II is worth an estimated $500 million.

Prince Harry inherited roughly $10 million from his late mother Princess Diana's estate, with Meghan Markle contributing approximately $2 million (after taxes) from her various works as an actress.

The couple purchased their $14.7 million Montecito home in mid-June, putting down $5 million for the property and took out a $10 million mortgage, Forbes said.

Additionally, Harry and Meghan donated $3 million to the U.K.'s Sovereign Grant to pay back renovations made on their Frogmore Cottage in Windsor following their departure.

The Sovereign Grant, funded in part by British taxpayers, previously contributed 5% to the couple’s total income. It is currently used to finance and support the official duties of the Queen including travel, security, staff and building upkeep.

The remaining 95% of their income came from the Duchy of Cornwall, a private estate account maintained by Prince Charles. The estate is valued at roughly $1.2 billion, with Prince Charles receiving approximately $28.3 million to distribute amongst his family.

The New York Times has reported both Prince Harry and Prince William received an estimated $6.4 million from Prince Charles and the Duchy, although the exact number is still unknown. However, the couple no longer has access to either fund, according to multiple reports.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 07: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex  attend the 91st Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey on November 07, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 07: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the 91st Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey on November 07, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Because of their desire to be financially independent, the duo has sought out alternative forms of income.

Most recently, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex signed a 3-year podcast deal with Spotify (SPOT) for an estimated $15 million - $18 million — but it was their 5-year Netflix (NFLX) deal that's generated the most buzz. Multiple reports said the deal could be valued at up to $100 million.

Prince Harry also partnered with Oprah on an Apple TV+ (AAPL) mental health series. The project, which was originally supposed to air in 2020, has since been put on hold.

Coupled with the duo's various speaking appearances, which are rumored to go for around $1 million, it's clear that Harry and Meghan are continuing to expand their media empire — and establish influence outside their royal perch.

Still, one concern amongst royal experts remains the potential brand damage to the British monarchy — especially considering the royal family injects roughly $2 billion dollars into the U.K.’s economy every year, according to Brand Finance.

Brand Finance CEO David Haigh previously told Yahoo Finance that the young royals will continue to have an impact, saying that they "are an extension of British soft power, acting as one of the biggest pull factors for tourists visiting this country."

“The evolving role of the young royals will still be valid and interesting. People will continue to follow the brands that [they] endorse," he added — a positive sign that more lucrative deals for Harry and Meghan could be on the horizon.

Alexandra is a Producer & Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193

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