I’ve been googling polo ponies. Not because I’m hoping Santa might finally bring me the gee-gee I’ve been asking for for the last three decades but because I wanted to know how much they cost.
They’re sleek, incredible animals and if the internet is correct, they cost about $180,000 a pop. (And that’s before you’ve even seen the bill for the hay.)
The reason I want to know is that this weekend in among the approximately 328 stories about Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their forthcoming six-part Netflix series (including royal insiders calling the trailer dropping during the Prince and Princess of Wales’ US tour “ugly, malicious and pathetic”) we have this shocker: They seem to have had some money problems.
According to The Sun, King Charles “stopped taking” his son’s “phone calls begging for cash”.
Harry reportedly “bombarded” the late Queen “with calls when she was put on light duties due to her worsening mobility,” which would mean this took place at some point since October last year when Her Majesty’s health crisis started.
“Harry is not as well off as people are led to believe. He was wanting money,” an insider told the paper. “The late Queen was always happy to speak with Harry but when he asked for money she said, ‘Why don’t you speak to your father?’
“Harry told her that Charles wasn’t taking his calls any more.
“When the Queen asked Charles what he was doing about it because she was fielding so many calls, he told her, ‘I’m not a bank.’”
Hold your (very expensive) horses here: Where has all the Sussexes’ money gone?
If you’ve been following the melodramatic Sussex story for the last few years then you would likely think that the couple is positively rolling in dosh thanks to the laundry list of deals they have signed since pitching up in the US.
First came news of their Netflix contract, then their Spotify one, followed by Penguin Random House getting in on the action and securing Harry’s talents via a reported multi-title deal. (Quite a turn up for the books for a man who got a B in art and D in geography in his final exams.)
That was just the beginning.
Harry also managed to break new ground for the House of Windsor by going out and getting himself that most shocking of things, a job. In March 2021, it emerged he had joined the C-suite at the billion-dollar company BetterUp as the Chief Impact Officer.
While there has never been any indication of how much the Duke might be pocketing for the gig, or whether he is being paid in cash, shares or all the vegan power bars he can carry from the office kitchen, you’d have to imagine that the value of this deal is significant.
Meghan has also been out on the commercial hustings.
In December 2020 it emerged, via Oprah Winfrey’s Instagram account no less, that Meghan had ventured into the entrepreneurial world, putting money into Clevr, a vegan latte brand. The following year she had added ‘author’ to her CV by penning a children’s book (“semiliterate vanity project,” according to The Telegraph’s review) called The Bench.
In October 2021 the New York Times got the scoop that those go-getting Sussexes were having a crack at Wall Street too and had signed on as “impact partners” with a fintech asset manager called Ethic.
Add all this up … carry the one … and it sounds like the couple has managed to earn themselves the sort of mountain of cash that should they fancy, they could dive into, Scrooge McDuck-style.
While no one knows the exact figure, estimates have put the total at upwards of $245 million. (It must be noted that Harry will donate $2.2 million of the proceeds of his book to his Sentebale charity and $540,000 to British charity WellChild.)
In short, when it came to their new life in the US, it was definitely a case of ‘for richer.’
So, again: Where has all the money gone?
Is Harry currently looking for that bitcoin he dropped down the back of one of their multiple beige sofas or checking his favourite jean’s back pockets for those Microsoft shares he got for his eighth birthday?
The couple has not exactly been living an ascetic life financially, especially having gone out and snapped up a $20 million Montecito estate only months after arriving in America and having shown no indication since then of giving up their predilection for private jet travel.
Then there is Meghan’s wardrobe, which saw her debut more than $114,000 worth of new pieces last year, and Harry’s polo habit and those $180,000 ponies. (It’s not known if the ones he rides as part of his Los Padres team are in fact owned by the Duke.)
Oh sure, it’s the allegations of institutional racism and a cruel indifference to their mental health woes that get all the attention when it comes to the ‘why’ of Megxit, however, a number of reports have also suggested that money might be the Pete Best, aka the forgotten Beatle, of this story.
In this year’s Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind The Crown, Valentine Low writes that during a tour in Sydney back in 2018, Meghan, “according to several members of staff,” was heard saying, “I can’t believe I’m not getting paid for this.”
Elsewhere he writes that in 2019, “she did the voiceover for a Disney wildlife documentary in return for a charitable donation” however that some insiders “suspected that in the end she wanted to make money”.
Tom Bower, in Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the war between the Windsors, writes in the wake of the Sussexes’ Megxit bombshell (AKA the Instagram post heard around the world) that, “Money, they knew, was at the heart of Meghan’s thoughts, and it seemed that she intended to monetise the monarchy.”
After marrying into the royal family, per Bower, Meghan “began to understand that the British monarchy … was neither flush with money nor an invincible luxury Rolls-Royce machine.”
In Finding Freedom, authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand report that, when it came to hashing out their royal ‘divorce’ deal in early 2020, that “a source familiar with the negotiations” told them that “the biggest row was over money, because it always is.”
The issue of who would foot the bill for the Sussexes’ post-Palace life has long proved a fraught, finger-pointing one.
In their Oprah outpouring last year, during which the Duke and Duchess were dressed like they were going to a mezzosoprano’s Neapolitan funeral, Harry sulkily said “my family literally cut me off financially”.
Awkward then when it was later revealed that Charles had continued to fund the Duke and Duchess after they had jetted off into the sunset and had “allocated a substantial sum” to them.
(A Sussex spokesperson then told the press that Harry’s Oprah comment was “in reference to the first quarter of the fiscal reporting period in the UK” and that “it’s inaccurate to suggest that there’s a contradiction”. That’s clear then …)
Still, we have not gotten to the bottom of the riddle here: Where exactly is that $245 million dollars that the world’s most famous émigrés are meant to be earning?
And that is before we even get to the most extraordinary element of this Sun report which is that reportedly even after Harry and Meghan had accused the royal family of institutional racism, ignoring their suffering and of “total neglect” he still had the chutzpah to turn around and ask them for money.
According to the same report “Charles insisted that his son must email him instead” and that “The Sun understands Charles, then Prince of Wales, asked his son to put in requests via email through his personal assistant.”
The story does not detail whether the Bank of Dad agreed to help Harry but if this report is accurate then it would seem that Harry has some challenges when it comes to both dollars and sense. (And yes, that might be my cheesiest pun yet …)
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.
Story Credit: news.com.au