Hasn’t the West Coast suffered enough? In recent months, the granola-munching, Birkenstock bulk-buying citizens of Los Angeles and beyond have had to contend with catastrophic rain, mudslides and, of course, the constant threat of wildfires.
And now? Seems like they’re about to attract more second string royal players looking to start over.
Earlier this month, the Daily Mail reported that not only are Princess Eugenie and husband Jack Brooksbank possibly eyeing up properties in Los Angeles but that her father, disgraced Duke and perpetual pariah Prince Andrew has been “keeping an eye” on Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussexes’ careers and “everything [they] have been doing in America” with a view to what he does with the rest of his life.
On paper the Sussexes would seem to be absolutely smashing it, smugly smirking all the way to the bank after signing a bevy of deals stuffed with zeros and which total more than $200 million. Huzzah! More kombucha for everyone!
But is everything quite so spiffy and shiny in Sussex land? For one thing, are they quite so flush as they would appear?
A veteran biographer has now popped up to claim that Meghan is currently being forced to “scrounge” for the sort of luxuries beloved by the 0.01 per cent.
The revelation came when Tom Bower, author of the pretty devastating book Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the War Between the Windsors, appeared on conservative UK TV network GB News to talk about the Duke and Duchess with vociferous Sussex critic Dan Wootton.
(Wootton ‘outed’ Harry and Meghan’s plans to quit the UK in January 2020 thus triggering Megxit.)
Bower said of Meghan: “(Meghan) is money obsessed and always has been and that is why she married Prince Harry.
“Her great surprise and disappointment was that Prince Harry had very little money.
“She’d imagined he’d be worth hundreds of millions if not billions and she’s having to make up for it now.
“She wants to ride in the big Cadillacs, the private jets on command. At the moment she needs to scrounge for those sorts of things.”
(In Revenge, he wrote that it was only after their 2018 marriage that Meghan “began to understand that the British monarchy … was neither flush with money nor an invincible luxury Rolls-Royce machine.”)
Now for most of us, the idea of a Jetstar flight to Bali sounds like heaven about now. However, if the former Suits actress fancies getting her own NetJets account (it’s like Uber for the private jet set darhhhhling) then she and Harry are going to have to work out a way to rake in much, much more cash.
Take their reported $US100 million (*$A146 million) Netflix deal. Not bad for a man who has never had to sit for a job interview in his life and a woman who used to, according to book Finding Freedom, “occasionally set up a paparazzi photo”.
But that figure could also include the cost of their production staff and production costs; plus it’s highly unlikely they got the full whack of cash upfront and it’s likely to be meted out after each project.
We are not talking about ‘pop out and buy a Gulfstream’ cash. (Sussex wedding guests George and Amal Clooney are reported to own their own private jet, which can cost up to $60 million brand new.)
Or there’s their $29 million Penguin Random House situation.
That was reportedly the advance for four books, of which the World has only been ‘blessed’ with one, frozen “todger” and all. How much Aitch, Lord of the Word Document and Spellcheck, actually pocketed is not known.
And what of Spotify? Does anyone think the streamer might have paid out the full $31 million their contract is said to be worth just for Meghan’s lacklustre Archetypes? (It might have debuted with much fanfare but later episodes failed to set the podcasting charts on fire.)
The issue is not only how much they are making but how tiddly that sum is in contrast with what their new best friends are all raking in.
In their neighbourhood is Oprah Winfrey, worth $3.67 billion, Ellen DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi, $558 million, and Orlando Bloom and Katy Perry, who are reportedly worth $543.8 million. (Perry earned about $56.6 million in 2022 alone.)
Last month the royal pair attended DeGeneres and de Rossi’s vow renewal, overseen by the first woman to turn a sex tape into a multi-billion dollar empire, Kris Jenner. Her net worth is reportedly just shy of about $300 million.
Meanwhile, fellow attendee Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle uber brand, Goop, has been valued at $360 million plus.
Harry and Meghan, even if they had been paid every dollar that every deal is worth are still the poorest people around the table next time this A+ list gang gets together for Saturday night parcheesi and cases of vintage Pouilly-Fumé.
Making this situation even tricker is the fact the release of Harry and Meghan’s Netflix series and his memoir Spare have had catastrophic consequences for their approval ratings.
This week, new polling found that for the second time since this onslaught started, their popularity has fallen, again, taking them to another all-time low.
Polling done by Newsweek in January found that the Duke’s US approval rating plunged 45 points and Meghan’s 36 points after the release of their Netflix series and his tell-all.
Harry’s approval rating has dropped 48 points since the beginning of December, giving him a net approval rating of minus 10 points. Meghan has sagged by 40 points, with her currently sitting on minus 17 points. (That means that more people have an unfavourable view of them than favourable.)
Just to put this in context, Americans have a more favourable view of Queen Camilla than Meghan. (Horse & Hound’s number one fan is liked and disliked by the same number of respondents, putting her on net zero.)
The couple’s current strategy of monetising their never ending disgruntlement is cratering, and fast.
If the couple not only want to maintain their current level of income but even vaguely get close to the sort of dosh their new pals have, something drastic will need to be done to revamp and remake their image and careers. (Whoever would have thought that a steady diet of high-sheen whingeing might put people off?)
I struggle to see how a single venture capitalist, Hollywood deal maker or Silicon Valley supremo would be willing to get into bed, business-wise, with two public figures who are disliked by a swath of Americans.
If the Duchess is the savvy sort, she would understand that right about now, a sharp change of direction is what is needed.
Three years after Megxit – after six-hours of grousing and griping and more than 400 pages of Harry throwing his family under the bus (or as the BBC’s royal correspondent Sean Coughlan wrote in a review, “In places it feels like the longest angry drunk text ever sent”) – it’s time for a rebrand and pronto.
Since 2020, the World has watched rapt as Harry and Meghan have styled their 20-month stint as a working royal couple into a Homeric clash between their right-on thinking and a stony-hearted family that permanently refused to appoint a royal shaman.
(Actually King Charles with his lifelong interest in mysticism might go for that one. It’s hard to believe that the pocket-square loving monarch once went on a four-day long spiritual quest in the Kalahari with his guru Laurens van der Post.)
Like a once-hit TV series that has gone on a season too long, the writers milking the same tired material, it’s beyond due for the Sussexes to find a new angle.
That renaissance might already be in the works, according to The Telegraph’s Camilla Tominey. In a recent piece, she raised the mystery of the @Meghan Instagram account that was created around mid-2022, pointing out that “no one other than a celebrity [would be] able to secure a handle on first-name terms.”
One theory that has repeatedly cropped up is that the Duchess might return to her blogging roots and resuscitate The Tig, launch some other online lifestyle offering or set herself up for social media stardom or a combination of all the above.
Money might not be the only thing that the Duchess has her sights on. According to The Telegraph there are unconfirmed reports that she has been seen lunching with Gordon Getty.
And the Getty family, according to a 2018 Los Angeles Times story, was one of the select San Francisco uber-rich who helped fund California Governor Gavin Newsom’s rise to the top.
Interestingly this is swirling around at the same time that California Senator, 89-year-old Dianne Feinstein, announced she would not seek re-election.
Meanwhile, the Duchess herself has not been seen in public for more than two and a half months, with Harry having undertaken his whirly-gig of recent interviews curiously solo. Huh.
But if there is one industry that California specialises in, it’s dreams – and big ones. That and private jet sales, I’m guessing.
Daniela Elser is a writer and a royal commentator with more than 15 years’ experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.
Originally published at www.news.com.au