REPOST @guardian The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were never going to be king and queen of the United Kingdom. And now they have been relieved of their royal responsibilities, a new empire stretches before them, limitless, lucrative and theirs for the taking: the kingdom of sponsored content.
Thanks to the intense interest in their love story on social media, Prince Harry and Meghan have been dabbling in the “influencer” space for as long as they have been a couple. Before marrying Harry, Meghan ran the lifestyle/fashion blog The Tig, which gave her one foot in the world of influencers (the name given to the broad church of people who create and often monetise original content on social media). So perhaps it is no surprise that, in April last year, @SussexRoyal broke Instagram’s record for the fastest one million followers (less than six hours). Now it has 11 million and is the couple’s platform of choice for personal announcements – including the one they made on 8 January, revealing their intention to step back from royal duties (1.85m likes). Now that the royal purse strings have been cut, how will they make a living? Monetising their celebrity through brand partnerships, sponsorship deals and social media seems the most likely path. Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix, summed it up when asked if he would be open to working with them: “Who wouldn’t be interested?” But not everyone is so sure. Although they have stepped down from their duties, they will still be answerable to the Firm, says Stephen Bates, the Guardian’s royal correspondent from 2000 to 2012 and author of Royalty Inc: Britain’s Best-Known Brand. “Clearly, they are still royal, but they can’t profit from their association – and their association, via their name, is chiefly what they have,” he says. “All this stuff about huge marketing opportunities, and people talking up ‘their brand’ and how much it will earn them … Obviously their celebrity will carry them so far – but in a year or two’s time, what are they going to do?”