One of the revelations coming out of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, is that Harry said his family “literally cut me off financially” in the first quarter of 2020.
The Duke of Sussex said that was the driving factor behind he and Meghan Markle signing lucrative deals with entertainment platforms Netflix and Spotify last year.
Since leaving the UK, the pair signed deals to give them the capital to pursue their new lifestyle and public goals. Both deals were signed between the entertainment giants and Archewell Audio, the production company set up by the duke and duchess.
But just how much are the couple expected to make from those deals? How much were they valued at the time? And what content can we expect from the partnerships?
Here is everything you need to know.
How much were the deals worth?
News of the Sussexes major deal with Netflix came in September 2020, and is thought to be have been worth over £150 million.
Just five days after announcing the deal, Harry paid back the £2.4 million of taxpayers’ money used to renovate Frogmore Cottage, with a spokesperson confirming the repayment was made possible due to the Netflix deal.
Their deal with Spotify – announced in December 2020 – is thought to have been less lucrative in relation to the astronomical Netflix sum, but still a staggering amount of money.
Archewell Audio went into partnership with the audio streaming service for an undisclosed sum estimated to be worth around £18 million for their charitable body, Archewell.
What sort of content will they make for Netflix?
The deal with Netflix will allow the couple to make films and series for the streaming service with a global reach into millions of homes.
The streaming service said the couple will be producing a range of “content that informs but also gives hope”, from documentaries and scripted series, to features and children’s programming.
In September 2020, reports the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would be appearing in a reality series for Netflix were denied by their spokesperson.
It had been claimed Harry and Meghan would feature in “fly-on-the-wall” TV shows – one of a number of projects they were developing for the streaming giant.
The Sun reported that the docu-series would focus on their philanthropy, but would still offer viewers a glimpse of their new life in the US; a spokesperson denied a reality programme was being planned and reiterated only two projects were in development.
Netflix has said the Sussexes have several projects in development but declined to offer more information about future programmes.
A Netflix spokesperson said: “The couple already has several projects in development, including an innovative nature docu-series and an animated series that celebrates inspiring women but we are not disclosing any of the programming slate at this time.”
What sort of podcasts will they make?
Their deal with Spotify will see the Duke and Duchess host and produce podcasts to highlight “different perspectives and voices” – the pair have already hosted a “Holiday Special”, which released at the tail end of 2020.
A trailer on the streaming service’s website to announce the deal featured Meghan saying: "One of the things my husband and I have always talked about is our passion for meeting people and hearing their stories.
“And no matter what the story, they usually offer you an understanding of where someone else is coming from and at the same time remind you in some way of a story about yourself.”
The duke and duchess said: “What we love about podcasting is that it reminds all of us to take a moment and to really listen, to connect to one another without distraction.
Harry then continued: “And that’s what this project is all about, to bring forward different perspectives and voices that perhaps you haven’t heard before and find our common ground. When that happens, change really is possible.”
How will critics react to their content?
Public relations expert Mark Borkowski warned Harry and Meghan now have to produce documentaries and podcasts that will capture the audience’s imagination.
Borkowski said: “I think it’s really impressive, what they’re doing, and for all the naysayers saying ‘they’re going to be a non-entity’ – that’s a UK perspective. They’ve got a global perspective, and more importantly a North American perspective, and each shot is a bit of a bullseye.”
But he sounded a note of caution: “Their one million dollar moment is whether or not the hype about all these corporate deals they’re doing with entertainment and tech giants will ultimately match the output.”
Royal expert Penny Junor also told the PA news agency the couple’s multimillion-pound deal had proven controversial because the firm produced The Crown, with Season 4 exploring the troubled life of Harry’s late mother Diana, Princess of Wales.
Said said: “I’m sure it never crossed Harry and Meghan’s minds about The Crown, possibly being negative or damaging when they got their wonderful contract from Netflix.
“But the problem is that they left those gold standard advisers when they left Buckingham Palace, when they turned their back on the help that they were getting.”