Harry and Meghan plan for financial independence by trademarking over 100 items with a “Sussex Royal” name

January 12, 2020 • 12:30 pm

Maureen Dowd, with her wickedly waspish words, has a column in today’s New York Times about what she calls “Megxit”: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s plan to spend at least half their time in the New World, disassociate themselves to some extent from the Royal Family, and try to achieve “financial independence.” Dowd’s column also has a cute title:

It’s a pretty even-handed piece, with praise and blame for both the Queen and her grandson + spouse, and, as usual, is full of Dowd’s efforts to be witty (these can be wearing). But one passage in her piece stopped me cold:

The Firm was out of its depth then, and it is again now. How can the queen and Prince Philip and Prince Charles possibly understand the desire of Meghan and Harry to rebrand as a Goopish lifestyle enterprise? The news that they have applied to trademark hundreds of items, from socks to hoodies, under the “Sussex Royal” logo makes Wallis Simpson’s exile in the Bahamas, spent matching the color on the walls to her face powder, seem positively monastic.

Can you really call yourself “financially independent” when all you’re doing is cashing in on the royal name?

I didn’t believe that they really tried to trademark hundreds of items, but they did! It’s reported on Page Six (click on screenshot):

Sussex Royal socks? Apparently so:

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may have come up with a way to make “Megxit” pay — by trademarking their “Sussex Royal” brand for more than 100 items last summer, official records show.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex insisted in Wednesday’s shocking announcement that they would “become financially independent” once free of their royal responsibilities.

Records with the UK’s Intellectual Property Office show that last June the couple made moves to prep a possible financial empire.

Under both “Sussex Royal” and their charitable organization, “The Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex,” the couple secured trademarks with a wide cross-section of possible products.

Included are clothing, stationery, photographs, educational and charitable endeavors — and even possibly their own newspaper or magazine.

“Undoubtedly, this will be a multimillion-pound revenue business,” retail expert Andy Barr told the Daily Mail, predicting it could generate revenues of more than $500 million.

“This will just be the steppingstone for higher-value products being launched later down the line.

Well, to be fair, what other way could they achieve financial independence? Markle used to act, but does Harry have any job skills besides flying helicopters. And I’m sure a lot of the dosh they rake in will go to charity. Still, making a lot of money by branding things with “Sussex Royal” seems pretty déclassé to me.  They could get regular jobs; after all, when Aristotle Onassis died, Jackie Kennedy, his widow, went to work as book editor. (She was independently wealthy, of course.)

I applauded Megxit, as I’m not a fan of the royals and I can see how anybody who wanted a normal life would chafe under the despotism of the Queen and the stringent, life-constricting duties of a royal. But if they’re trying to become independent, it seems a bit hypocritical to do so by patenting a bunch of goods with the name “Sussex Royal.”

And that’s the royal drama for today.

Oh, and reading the Internet, I see that some Brits view the situation this way:

83 thoughts on “Harry and Meghan plan for financial independence by trademarking over 100 items with a “Sussex Royal” name

  1. I paraphrased an old saying that goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough change their labels.” I think it applies here.

  2. The Yoko photo had me chuckling.

    I’d like to see if any of their trademarks “takes off”. I bet a lot of Americans would fall for the “Sussex Royal” brand…soon to be in Nordstrom and other fine retailers nationwide. It will probably show up in Harrods as well.

  3. I think if they went the reality show route (which would no doubt be ridiculously successful), that would be tres gauche. This, well, this is just sort of practical.

    1. Hopefully when the current monarch dies as Charles is a woo-loving and interfering nitwit.

      It is a pity so many of us on this rock are against anything different, especially European as a German-style head of state would be quite a good option. Their President has very nominal power, certainly nothing like the America one and is mainly there to entertain visiting Bigwigs.

      Afraid I cannot see it happening, the Germans do not call us Insel Affen for no reason.

    2. When I was young, I also assumed the monarchy would have to go, an institution that had long out-lived its usefulness, if it ever had any. But I’m willing to be more savagely practical now, after a lot more experience and a better understanding of history. Let’s think of history since 1688, and the ‘Glorious Revolution’ when a king was chased from our shores, and his daughter and her husband invited in to be new monarchs. Monarchs with their teeth pulled, constrained in practical power though endowed with theoretical power. The agreement was that it should never be used, and this was the basis of constitutional monarchy. Surprisingly, it has worked, and worked well. Sure, it’s had its problems, but far less than presidential politics bring, and remains more purposeful than an appointed figurehead who is nothing more than that. The monarchy more than pays for itself; income from the Crown Estates is voluntarily given to the government. A small percentage is given back as what used to be the Civil List, and is now the Sovereign Grant. And income tax is voluntarily paid upon that to quell the rumblings of those who have no arithmetic. The Queen would be quite within her rights to keep her own income and would be better off if she did. So to repeat and to be clear, the country makes money off the monarchy, and is not out of pocket. Never mind the amount of tourism it draws to the UK.
      So if we are to be pragmatic about it, the monarchy is an absolute boon financially and politically. Yet the appearances are outdated, and it offends those who don’t understand the above, along with those who enjoy tinkering with political mechanisms in an effort to create utopia. Were we to be smart, we would be glad we had accidentally arrived at such an arrangement in which the actual negatives are psychological and borne dutifully by the difficult lives lived by those inside the gilded cage. Well, borne by most. Harry isn’t up to it, and hasn’t been helped in bearing up by acquiring his wife, a successful woman in a shallow kind of way who has no concept of service and duty. Obviously they can choose freedom, and should be allowed to be private citizens without taking their perks with them. God Bless and Good Luck, but spare us the mealy mouthed platitudes about being progressive and supporting the Queen. If this were all done in a quiet and agreeable way (vide Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex), no harm would ensue. The current debacle will be very damaging to the monarchy. Harry may yet bring the whole edifice down and complete his mother’s work. Cluster B at play, I suppose.

      1. “it has worked, and worked well”

        By some definitions of the word. 😉

        I don’t see any reason to assert the superiority of constitutional monarchy over presidential politics given the twin disasters that are tRump and Brexit. They seem equally undeserving of descriptions like “works well”.

      2. I’m not too concerned about the Monarchy in Britain, but I see it as a throwback to when they had real power – not so long ago. We are now in a new era of democracy, which is a tough road, for sure. In a way, I see the Monarchy as a child’s blanket, providing the illusion of security. At some point we’ve had to face modernity, even if it forces us to maturely look at ourselves and accept the burden of politics brought down to us, the little people.

  4. I lived in Suffolk county long ago, maybe I should try to trademark that one. You know, underwear and socks and maybe a raincoat.

  5. Financial independence? According to Business Insider, their combined net worth is around $30 million, and none of it belongs to the Crown. Markle around $5M, mostly from her work on the long-running TV show Suits, and Harry around $25M, a good part from inheritance from his mother. How much do you need to qualify as “financially independent?”

    1. Well, exactly; and indeed one could substitute £ for $ in your estimate (mind you, they might well be on parity in about a year’s time). Still, if I was in my 30s I reckon I could live on a pot of about £35m for the rest of my life.

    2. You and I could live very comfortably on that sort of money, and still leave plenty for the kids and grandkids.
      Flying around the world to lecture people about climate change is pretty expensive, and of course they have lots of full-time staff.

      My prediction is that Harry will be back within five years, and likely single again.

  6. I think selling stuff, branded or otherwise, is legitimately a way to make a living. They won’t, presumably, be asking for money from Gran anymore. That strikes me as a form of independence.

  7. “Megxit” is clever if not quite ingenious, and I had thought its public appearance originated somewhere in the British press??

  8. If Scotland secedes, they could ask the pair to start their very own royal family/head of state.
    This would be much like Norway leaving Denmark about 110 years ago IIRC, in that they had grabbed a Danish prince to be king. I’d have little confidence in Harry’s character growing into something approaching the level of that initial King of Norway, at least judging from the movie “The King’s Choice” and from a few other things.

    1. They would certainly be a better choice than the last person who offered to be King of Scotland – Idi Amin.

    2. … much like Norway leaving Denmark …

      I thought the kingdoms of Norway and Denmark were merged by young Fortinbras, over a body-strewn stage, in the final scene of Hamlet. 🙂

      1. Perhaps the split circa 1910 was precipitated by the Norwegian phrase for a lousy skier:

        ‘He skis like a Dane’.

        Just in case there are Danes reading this:
        I know of resounding counterexamples, namely Danes who can ski the Birkebeiner and get the ‘pin’ (no worse than 125% of the average 5 best times in age category–those 5 are often former Olympic level), pin being something I’ve never come close to. This is despite Denmark being flat as a pancake, and little snow.
        Similar with Prince Edward Island here. My potato farmer friend is a rocket.

    3. In the (fairly likely) event of Scotland seceding in the foreseeable future – by force if necessary – the likelihood of accepting a monarchic constitution is pretty low. It’s a toss-up which are the least monarchistic parts of the country, but the Falls Road and Scotland are both in the running.

      1. Agreed. I was being facetious there, certainly being a long way from thinking royalty in the sense of ‘gonad succession’ is a good idea for head of state.

        And I doubt it would be hard to find someone for that with evidently more wisdom than either of those two.

        Maybe the world’s best curler should get the job every 5 or 6 years. After all
        1/ curling that was invented in Scotland;
        2/ this would provide permanent employment for at least one Canadian; and
        3/ I’ve never been able to understand curling strategy at all, so it clearly demands smarts far above, say, quantum field theory, dangerously assuming the latter to be something connected to wisdom.

        1. I think the only one of those I could go with (without further research) would be #3. I’ve vague memories of other (northern) nations having a sport like curling, perhaps ones with more reliably walk-on-able frozen ponds.
          Do Canadians curl? Probably, since there’s ice involved.
          Strategically … it’s up there with Vogon poetry and the Bronte’s in the higher ranges of an Improbability Drive.

          1. Canadians do curl. In fact, though not as lopsidedly Canadian dominated as hockey was before the USSRians started to get good at it in the 1950’s, there was a fair time when Canada dominated the world championships in curling.

            Even now, it is so popular out west here that a good Championship League might have the world’s 10 best national teams plus the 10 best teams from Alberta and Saskatchewan, so 44 of the 80 players would be canadians.

            But not anymore does Canada’s national team dominate, so 2/ is my way of making the dead-false claim that the best in the world is always a canadian.

            I actually did that sport myself for one year in secondary school, but the motivation was to rub shoulders with certain particularly attractive young women.

            So maybe the world’s best shinty player every few years should get the mainly symbolic job of President of the new Republic of Scotland.

    1. That’s your opinion. She’s a woman who tells the other women royals how to dress, like this:

      https://www.rd.com/culture/royal-family-dress-codes/

      For example:

      Pantyhose definitely made a comeback, thanks to Duchess Kate and her barely-there hosiery. According to Fortune, sales of sheer nude pantyhose had a surge in popularity after her engagement announcement in 2010. Whether it’s Kate’s own fashion choice or a chill in the air, Harper’s Bazaar confirms that the Queen expects all female family members and guests to keep their gams covered up in some type of tights.

      Oh, and skirts can’t be too short either:

      While we fully support Kate Middleton wearing every-and-anything that shows off her fantastic legs, Queen Elizabeth is reportedly not such a fan. For an upcoming tour of Australia, the Queen has ordered longer hemlines for KMid’s appearances—to look more royal highness than high street—though she is whipping out some royal jewels as a consolation prize.

      In my view that’s despotism. If she pulled that crap on me, I’d tell the old despot where to get off.

      1. Sorry to push back, but do you really get your facts from Readers Digest and Elle? Would you give either of them the time of day if they published some clickbait on evolution? These rags are pandering to what their readers want to hear.

        And, even if what they say is true, do you yourself not know any families where the materfamilias sets the rules?

    1. Sometimes her silliness can grow wearisome, as our host adverts, but I generally get a kick outta MoDo’s wordplay.

      She’s a breath of fresh air compared to the stuffed shirts that regularly occupy the NYT’s op-ed pages.

        1. Speaking of prepositions and grammar Nazis, I always find the British “different to” kind of jarring. We Yanks say “different from”, which makes more sense to me because things which are different are away “from” each other. Does anyone else agree?

              1. From where I kvetsh, that’s what from! Oy vey.
                (said with an even stronger Yiddish accent)

            1. ‘..all Americans north of the Rio Grande…’, Is it ‘diferente a’ or is it ‘diferente de’ for many of the other Americans? And for Brazil, the ‘de’ seems universal, Spanish and Portugese having the same word for ‘different’ I think.
              So I guess I’m jocularly disagreeing from you. With the ‘dis’, the ‘from’ almost sounds better.

          1. We Yanks say “different from”, which makes more sense to me because things which are different are away “from” each other. Does anyone else agree?

            I agree with your preference and logic, but find your comment about British usage odd. As a Brit, I grew up always hearing “different from”, and only in the last 20-30 years have I noticed “different to” (bad), and “different than” (appalling) creeping in. It seems to me that these are coming from the USA, going by USian TV programmes. Does anyone else know where these changes started?

            1. Interesting to hear, Colin. I have never heard different to in either the US or Canada, only from Brits on TV and movies so maybe British TV is to blame. I will certainly acknowledge that US TV and Hollywood are responsible for many linguistic inelegances (is that a word?)

      1. I love her writing but was disappointed in her debate skills up here at the Munk Debates a few years ago. She was, surprisingly, sort of a shrinking violet. I can’t remember the subject matter or the other 3 debaters, but I expected her to be more kick-ass.

  9. I believe the monarch brands now and gas for
    many years. Shops snd services in England for a fee list some se if royal mark. Don’t remember all the details. Ways to make money has alwsys been a preoccupation of the monarch and its history has mostly been about power and money. As long as the products they brand are of sufficient quality for the price charged.

    Interest and dividends from thirty million properly invested is only a few hundred thousand a year. They can’t be expected to live on such a paltry sum.

      1. For clarity, you are correct that there is a scheme through which Liz II and some assorted relatives endorse particular brands. However, they get no financial benefit (or any freebies) from doing so.

  10. They need to have enough money around to buy more fork holders. Royal people hold their forks with fork holders, a utensil utilized so that one does not touch the fork itself as the commoners do. Okay I made that up.

    1. Okay I made that up.

      No you didn’t. You’re remembering, if weakly, the source of the classic sketch “Fork Handles” sketch.

  11. I suppose it’s possible that this flurry of trademarking might have been to head off others from doing it first.
    They’re moving to my neck of the woods, I’m hoping to run into them at the pub.
    There’s one in particular on Van Island that is the most English place I’ve ever seen outside of the UK.
    It’s called the Crow and Gate in Nanaimo, worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.

      1. Aren’t they required (on pain of losing the trademark) to “actively defend” their trademarks against the production of infringing imitations?
        Which sounds like a license for their lawyers to print money.

  12. I sympathize with them, to a degree. I could never live in such a way that I could not say anything, think out loud, or where my time and family were essentially owned by a whole country. However, while I hesitate to judge from the outside, it smells a bit like ‘I hate being in the bakery but I get to keep the cake’. The British taxpayer has already paid millions for the wedding, their travel, clothing, renovating a home they don’t intend to use much. If I were a taxpayer there I’d be pretty angry about it. Living under a crystal dome isn’t for everyone, but turning your heritage into a brand and expecting the taxpayer to do for you until you say stop isn’t a very noble approach.

  13. Times change. Prince Hans Adam II of Lichtenstein has passed his powers on to his son Alois; Karl von Hapsburg is still available for the throne of Austria-Hungary, should the Empire ever be reconstituted; Louis Alphonse of Bourbon is the current pretender to the still vacant throne of France; and Wallis Simpson, as we all know, got to be the grandmother of Homer Simpson. We can surely expect Harry and Meg to develop a “brand” in marijuana cookies which will simultaneously improve fitness, reduce global warming, and promote Diversity and Inclusion.

    1. I’m … enlivened by the idea of a “Sussex-Simpson brand of by-royal-appointment marijuana cookies, sporting a “doh” logo of His Homerness.
      Maybe Brenda has done the right thing by getting these loose cannons off the deck.

  14. What I’ve noticed the most about this whole thing is how virtually everybody is rushing to judgment without being in possession of the facts.

    For example, “Meghan has broken up the family.” Or, she’s supporting her husband in doing what he’s wanted to do for years. Which is it? I don’t know, and nor does anybody else who’s making the former accusation.

    “It was disrespectful to go public before talking to the Queen.” Or, they’ve been trying to get an audience for weeks and been denied so felt this was the only way to get things moving. Which is it? I don’t know, and nor does anybody else who’s making the former accusation.

    And so on.

    This is The Way Things Are now – people form an opinion, they get fed confirming opinion due to the algorithms of Facebook et al, and so consider themselves informed, rational and intelligent.

    Which is why the world has gone to hell in the last ten years.

    In my opinion.

      1. “‘Twas ever thus.”

        Am reminded of a brief dialogue in “Dead Poets Society” movie, if memory serves me:

        Latin teacher (quoting a Roman sage?): “Show me a man who knows his limitations, and I’ll show you a contented man.”

        Keating (Robin Williams):

        “Ah, but ’tis in their dreams that men are truly free,

        ‘Twas always thus, and always thus shall be.”

    1. There is perhaps one exception, one which is a rude expression, which might be a peculiarly canadian one, namely: ‘a Royal Fuckup’.
      Amusingly, this thread is about a real one, as opposed to the usual metaphorical one, such as when discovering too late you have applied the wrong wax for the day of the ski race. Hopefully one example suffices in place of a definition.

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