// By Mariama FOFANA //
« I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person, » said the Duke of Sussex. « I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces. »
For the Royal family, 2020 got off to a flying start. Indeed, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex officially announced their will to step back as senior members of the royal family and work in order to become financially independent. This decision is a major change in the British history. It can be explained by the harsh time the duchess Meghan Markle had been going through ever since she became a member of the royalty. In fact, being the very first person of color in the British royal family in addition of not having any royal relatives have made Meghan’s life way more complicated that it already was. So as to protect his wife’s sanity and overall happiness from the tabloids’ « ruthless campaign » against his wife, the duke of Sussex (Harry) agreed to splitting their time 50/50 between the UK and Canada. The Queen then published an official statement in which she (reluctantly) agreed to their new model which will take effect in the Spring of 2020. Although it might not seem like it, by choosing not to be reliant on public funds anymore, Meghan and Harry have made a big impact in the Royal family economy therefore Britain’s finances. But how exactly?
« This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity. » —the royal couple said in a statement.
The royal family’s worth is said to be around $80 billion mainly thanks to their economical power and assets; according to the most recent figures on the matter released by Brand Finance (2017). Charles Scarlett-Smith, a client and marketing director at Brand Finance expressed his concern regarding Megxit and the toll it will take on the British economy : “There will be a huge reputational hit to the royal family as a brand as a direct result of Meghan and Harry’s announcement”. Indeed, still according to him, the royal family is fairly essential to the British economy. Moreover, “the income of £1.8 billion they add to the British economy each year is enormous, and therefore any development that can affect them negatively is going to have a remarkable effect on the British economy”.
By choosing to relocate, prince Harry risk being double taxed on any commercial income he’ll make. Plus, according to Britain’s national tourism agency, the royal family generates some $767 million every year from drawing visitors to historic sites alone. Besides, 20 percent of the 30 million foreign visitors who come to Britain annually visit a castle which ultimately generates profit. In recent years, it has been shown that the impact of tourism on the British economy has increased mainly thanks to notable royal events, such as the marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton in 2011 and the marriage of Harry to Meghan Markle in 2018. As a matter of fact, Harry and Meghan’s wedding alone pumped an estimated $1.4 billion into the British economy (cf. nbc news). Therefore, the overall image of the royal family is very important to Britain although their role has long been discussed in politics, especially in the nineties. It can not be denied that the ever so slight crack in the wall might lead to something bigger than it is. As Charles S-S. said, it is now time for the royal family to rethink their image and potentially let us (people) see a new generation which will be more involved and aware of our society.