The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s surprise announcement that they plan to step back from royal duties and “transition into a new working model” has raised many questions – not least, how they plan to support themselves.
In their statement, Prince Harry and Meghan said they would “work to become financially independent,” and published a detailed document outlining the structure and funding of their household.
According to the statement, the couple receive 5 percent of their income from the Sovereign Grant – a lump sum of UK taxpayers’ money given to the Queen every year – and 95 percent from the Duchy of Cornwall, the private estate controlled by Prince Charles, Harry’s father.
The couple said they intended to give up the money received from the Sovereign Grant. That move, they argued, will enable them to continue “charitable endeavours as well as establishing new ones,” while also allowing them to earn a professional income – which they are at present forbidden from doing.
The website declares: “Their Royal Highnesses feel this new approach will enable them to continue to carry out their duties for Her Majesty The Queen, while having the future financial autonomy to work externally.”
What is the Sovereign Grant?
The Sovereign Grant is an annual sum of money given to the Queen by the UK government to meet the central staff costs and running expenses of Her Majesty’s official household. It also covers maintenance of the royal palaces and the cost of travel to carry out royal engagements.
In exchange for this public support, the Queen surrenders the revenue from the Crown Estate, a collection of UK properties and farms that generate hundreds of millions of pounds a year, to the government.
The Sovereign Grant is calculated on a formula based on the size of that revenue. In the 2018-19 financial year, it was £49.3 million ($64.3 million). The royal accounts do not say exactly how much is transferred to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, although they do state that the couple received about £100,000 in travel costs.
The Sussexes say the grant covers just 5% of their costs and is specifically used for their official office expense. They did not say how much they receive from the Sovereign Grant – but royal accounts show that they received just under $104,000 in the 2018/19 financial year for travel expenses. Other costs are not broken down in the accounts, so it is not possible to say how much they receive in taxpayers’ funding.
In the statement, the couple said that they “prefer to release this financial tie.”
The duke and duchess said the new approach will allow them to “continue to carry out their duties” for the Queen, while having “the future financial autonomy to work externally.”
Under the current structure and financing arrangements the couple are not allowed to earn any income in any form.
The couple attracted criticism about the £2.4 million (about $3 million) of public money spent on renovations to Frogm