Meghan Markle – a.k.a. the Duchess of Sussex and the Queen of England’s granddaughter-in-law — may be living a lavish and enviable fairy tale-like lifestyle thanks to the fact that she married into the royal family in May 2018. But Prince Harry’s beloved wife was doing quite well on her own during her days as a successful Hollywood actress.
« I think the biggest part of being a girl boss … is just knowing your value, » Markle told InStyle in 2015, expressing a confident vibe that likely helped her establish herself in the entertainment industry while also amassing an impressive fortune. Frankly, when it comes to the duchess’ work ethic, she once wrote on her former lifestyle blog, The Tig, « I’ve never wanted to be a lady who lunches — I’ve always wanted to be a woman who works. » That’s probably why, even in her role as a princess (which is, in fact, her official occupation), Markle hasn’t slowed down — although her access to the finer things in life has obviously changed since she started hanging out with a monarch who happens to adore her.
But this royal’s financial situation isn’t as straightforward as you might assume. Meghan Markle has had to juggle rather complicated (and pricey) circumstances that have played into how much money she’s really worth.
Meghan Markle’s father won the lottery
Although Meghan Markle wasn’t raised as a royal, she did have a rather privileged childhood. When she was young, her (now-estranged) father, Thomas Markle, worked in the entertainment industry. Naturally, the future actress often visited him on set. « My father was the lighting director on two television shows as I was growing up, » she wrote for The Tig in 2016. « And there I was, behind the scenes of a glossy soap opera and a TV sitcom, surrounded by famous actors and their glam teams, multi-million dollar budgets, and crew lunches that always included filet mignon and enough sweets to make you think you were at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. »
While Markle’s family wasn’t necessarily as rich as those around them in the business, her father did win $750,000 in the lottery when his famous daughter was nine years old. « That money allowed Meg to go to the best schools and get the best training, » her half-brother, Tom Markle Jr., told the Daily Mail in 2017. Following her private school education, Markle went off to study at Northwestern University, where she majored in both theater and international studies. It was obviously money well spent.
Markle made good money thanks to her fancy handwriting
When Meghan Markle was still an aspiring actress, she needed a side gig to make ends meet, which led to work as a freelance calligrapher. « It was because I went to an all-girls Catholic school for like six years during the time when kids actually had handwriting class, » she told Esquire in 2013, while discussing her impressive penmanship. « I’ve always had a propensity for getting the cursive down pretty well. »
Markle’s snazzy script-related skills even earned her a few celebrity clients. Along with doing the invitations for Robin Thicke and Paula Patton’s wedding in 2005, she used to handle Dolce & Gabbana’s holiday celeb correspondence. « I would sit there with a little white tube sock on my hand so no hand oils got on the card, trying to pay my bills while auditioning, » Markle recalled. When asked if a person can make decent money by doing calligraphy, the duchess revealed, « Oh, it’s super-lucrative. Because there are so few people doing it. » While she obviously gave up the side hustle years ago, Markle admitted, « What’s funny is I probably still have some calligraphy business cards floating out in the world and I can’t wait for someone to call me in a month or something, and say, ‘Can you do these for my son’s Bar Mitzvah?' »
The Duchess of Sussex’s Hollywood paydays
Along with a short stint as a briefcase model on Deal or No Deal between 2006 and 2007, Meghan Markle also scored a range of acting gigs throughout her showbiz career.
She could be seen popping up on shows like General Hospital, Castle, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, The League, Fringe, and Without a Trace, as well as Knight Rider and 90210, with each job earning her a paycheck. This meant that she had established herself as a professional (i.e. paid) Hollywood actress. Markle also nabbed a few larger roles — and, one can assume, larger paychecks — thanks to films like 2010’s Remember Me, which reportedly earned her $187,000, as well as The Candidate, which came out that same year and saw Markle taking home a reported $171,429.
But it was when Markle scored the part of paralegal Rachel Zane on USA Network’s Suits in 2011 that she started bringing in a regular paycheck that would eventually help her earn a tidy fortune. Apparently making $50,000 per episode, that amount contributed to her annual salary of around $450,000. Markle left the show in 2017, which means she had seven seasons to build up a rather bulky bank account before retiring from the entertainment industry to become a full-time royal.
Meghan Markle scored some major endorsement deals
As Meghan Markle’s star began to rise in Hollywood, so did her earning potential when it came to profitable endorsement deals. Celebrity Net Worth reports that along with making around $80,000 in annual sponsorships, Markle teamed up with the Canadian retailer Reitmans to not only act as their brand ambassador, but to also collaborate on two clothing lines that were sell-out successes.
Markle was apparently very involved in the creative process. « The initial idea of developing a collection came from her, » Reitmans’ vice president of marketing and visual presentation, Monique Brosseau, told WWD in 2017. « It was an amazing idea so our designers, who are all based in Montreal, worked closely with her. She provided her vision and her ideas of what could be a work-to-weekend capsule collection. They worked together to bring it to life. »
One collection included styles that Markle’s Suits character might have worn on screen, such as a faux leather pencil skirt and cashmere blend poncho, which was a bestseller along with faux leather leggings. Brosseau also revealed that their customers’ response to Markle’s foray into the fashion world was « very, very positive. » She added, « People come in and ask for the Meghan Markle collection specifically. Actually, some of them bought the whole collection. It was very well-received. »
This duchess also made some money off The Tig
Like plenty of other famous figures, Meghan Markle launched — and reportedly monetized — her own lifestyle brand in 2014 called The Tig. With the website’s name taken from her favorite wine, Tiganello, the stylish and savvy celebrity used her corner of the internet to cover topics like fashion, beauty, and travel, while also offering up some of her own delicious recipes.
However, despite its popularity with her fans, Markle shut down the website in April 2017 when her relationship with Prince Harry became serious. « After close to three beautiful years on this adventure with you, it’s time to say goodbye to The Tig, » she announced in a note. « What began as a passion project (my little engine that could) evolved into an amazing community of inspiration, support, fun and frivolity. » Along with explaining that her readers had made her « days brighter and filled this experience with so much joy, » Markle wanted those who had followed her blog to « keep finding those Tig moments of discovery, keep laughing and taking risks, and keep being ‘the change you wish to see in the world.' » The future duchess continued, « Above all, don’t ever forget your worth — as I’ve told you time and time again: you, my sweet friend, you are enough. Thank you for everything. »
How much money is Markle’s designer wardrobe worth?
Meghan Markle has always been a fashionable woman, so when she started stepping out as a representative of the royal family, she made sure to dress the part. However, before she married Prince Harry, Markle was responsible for paying for her own wardrobe. This is pretty impressive considering she reportedly wore over $28,688 worth of clothing for her first nine royal appearances alone, according to Elle.
For her December 2017 debut, Markle opted for a $550 Mackage Elodie coat along with an ensemble that cost a total of $2,212. During her second event, she chose a $795 Smythe’s Brando coat and $395 Sarah Flint’s Jay pumps that were part of a $1,915 style. Six of her following appearances featured outfits that ranged from at least $1,199 to $3,600. And for Christmas service with the royal family that year, Markle showed up in a camel Sentaler coat, Stuart Weitzman boots, a Chloé bag, Birks diamond earrings, and a Philip Treacy hat to complete a look that cost almost $10,000.
Fortunately, now that she’s a duchess, Markle gets a clothing budget of a hefty $28 million that comes from Prince Charles’ Duchy of Cornwall (via People). While that is certainly a sweet deal, she also has to follow royal fashion rules, which means that she’s not allowed to accept any designer clothes for free.
The royal family paid for Meghan Markle’s lavish wedding
One thing that Meghan Markle didn’t have to pay for was her wedding, which is a good thing because it was a pretty pricey affair. Prior to the event, the royal family announced that they would be footing the bill for the lavish ceremony — which took place in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 — as well as the post-nuptials party. A full statement explained, « As was the case with the wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Royal Family will pay for the core aspects of the wedding, such as the church service, the associated music, flowers, decorations, and the reception afterwards. »
Thankfully, the royals are one of the rare (and fortunate) families who could handle the formidable fee. While the average wedding on both sides of the pond apparently costs roughly $34,000 (£23,700), Meghan and Harry’s ceremony came in around $45.8 million (£32 million), according to Express. That’s over $11 million (£9 million) more than Prince William and Kate Middleton’s 2011 wedding. Some of the costs for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s big day included more than $36 million (£30 million) for security and over $470,000 (£390,000) for the bride’s Givenchy dress, which was designed by Clare Waight Keller.
The expensive arrival Meghan Markle’s child
Nearly a year after becoming a member of the royal family, Meghan Markle celebrated what was likely another costly milestone with Prince Harry: On May 6, 2019, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex welcomed their first child into the world, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
Markle gave birth to their baby boy, who’s seventh in the line of succession to the British throne, at the American-run Portland Hospital in London — which boasts a maternity ward that comes with a jaw-droppingly big bill. According to The Sun, while « the cheapest ‘birthing package’ costs around £15,000, it’s reported that some mums spend an eye-watering £500,000 — depending on the number of nights they stay and other services they require. » The perks, which are akin to « five-star hotel service for new mums, » include « four-poster baby cots, champagne-on-demand, and a lobster celebration meal » in one of 36 private rooms, which offer a nursery and a separate lounge area, as well as suites for guests.
According to the hospital’s former CEO, Janene Madden, « It’s like having a holiday. » That’s probably why other famous moms have also chosen to give birth there, including former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, actress Elizabeth Hurley, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s wife Jools, and even fellow royal Sarah Ferguson, a.k.a. the Duchess of York.
Those Frogmore Cottage renovations cost a pretty penny
With a baby now in the picture, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry did what many parents do when their family expands: they relocated into a new home. For the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, that meant moving out of their two-bedroom Nottingham Cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace to set up a new home at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor.
However, the royal residence first needed to be converted from the five-unit complex that it was into a single-family abode, which is why the couple tackled a few renovations before moving house. The total cost for the upgrade? Around $3.05 million (£2.4 million), which came from the royals’ public funding (i.e. taxpayer money).
It’s certainly a step up from the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home Markle was renting in Toronto while filming Suits. Although, to be honest, that wasn’t too shabby either and went on the sizzling hot real estate market in 2017 for a cool $1.395 million, according to The Globe and Mail. While speaking with the publication, real estate broker Daniel Freeman said that although Markle was living in the house when she first started dating Prince Harry, « There are no traces of royalty in the house, except that it’s a very fine residence … she had good taste. » However, he did add that when checking out the facilities, « It’s a nice thought to think, wow, Prince Harry used this toilet. »
Yes, Meghan Markle still has to pay U.S. taxes
As they say, there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes. It’s a fact that remains true even if you’re a duchess. While Meghan Markle is now a part of the British royal family and is no longer living in California, she’s still an American citizen, which means that she’s required to pay American taxes.
« U.S. citizens, green card holders, and permanent residents are required to file tax returns with the IRS every year no matter where they reside, » the director of financial planning and wealth management at Francis Financial, Avani Ramnani, explained to Business Insider. « This is a special tax return called the expatriate tax return. U.S. citizens, including Meghan Markle, get taxed on international income earned outside the U.S. »
However, all of this could apparently change if Markle opts to become a dual citizen of both the country where she was born and the nation where she now resides … or if she chooses to renounce her U.S. citizenship altogether, which Express notes could take upwards of five years.
The Duchess of Sussex’s net worth is around $5 Million
« Reflecting on where I came from helps me to appreciate and balance what I have now, » Meghan Markle wrote in an essay she penned for Elle magazine in 2016. According to Celebrity Net Worth, part of the balancing act that Markle must juggle these days reportedly involves an impressive $5 million fortune.
Despite being a very wealthy woman and a former Hollywood star who’s also now a member of the British royal family, it doesn’t sound like Markle is the type of person to let her financial status, high profile clout, and massive influence change her true nature. Instead, she made it clear in her Elle essay that she wants to use her privilege to make a positive impact on the world around her. « With fame comes opportunity, but it also includes responsibility — to advocate and share, to focus less on glass slippers and more on pushing through glass ceilings, » she wrote. « And, if I’m lucky enough, to inspire. »
We love an inspirational duchess.
But Meghan Markle’s not as rich as the other British royals
Meghan Markle may be a millionaire, but she still doesn’t have quite as much money as the other members of the British royal family. Her hubby, Prince Harry, has an estimated net worth of $40 million, largely thanks to a trust that was set up by his late mother, Princess Diana, before she tragically passed away in 1997. The money originally came from her divorce settlement from Harry’s father, Prince Charles.
Markle’s brother-in-law, Prince William, is also thought to have a $40 million fortune. Meanwhile, his wife, Kate Middleton, is reportedly sitting at $10 million, which the Duchess of Cambridge earned in part on her own while working for her parents’ successful party supplies company.
However, the money that this younger generation is banking pales in comparison to the elder royals. Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, reportedly has a $100 million net worth. As for Queen Elizabeth herself, the long-reigning monarch is said to have around $600 million to her name, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Top that off with the property, jewels, and artistic treasures that are also in the royal family’s possession, and their overall worth is practically priceless.