Prince Harry told to ‘pull his finger out’ over Invictus snub

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s supposed $130 million Netflix deal could make them Hollywood stars but it has come at a huge cost.

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Oscar Wilde famously once said that “there is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about” but then he never knew Harry and Meghan the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, especially circa 2020.

In a handful of days, the couple has gone from triumph to facing a spate of PR controversies that all essentially come down to one, simple, uncomfortable thing: Cold, hard cash.

On Thursday last week, the former HRHs announced they had signed a whopping reported $130 million deal with Netflix for them to produce “documentaries, docu-series, feature films, scripted shows and children’s programming”.

After nearly six months in the United States and regular rumours claiming they were in talks with a number of big hitters, the announcement should have been a huge win for the couple, validation that they could make it outside the cosseted confines of royal life and proof of their Stateside commercial clout.

Tig Cup cocktails for everybody! (Nothing says celebration like a drink that involves both radishes and hard liquor!)


The new multimillion-dollar Netflix deal is a big reason to celebrate for the Sussexes who are eager to crack Hollywood.

In the days since then, however, Harry and Meghan have faced a steady stream of negative stories which have taken the shine off their Hollywood slam dunk.

Without a doubt Harry’s greatest professional achievement in his royal life has been the foundation of the Invictus Games in 2014.

The story goes that the devastated Prince was on a plane, being flown out of Afghanistan after an Australian magazine had outed his presence on the frontline, and on board were two severely injured British servicemen.

“Harry told me that being on that medical evacuation flight with really badly injured British soldiers was the moment he realised he had to do something and that he could do something,” a friend later recounted.

That ‘something’ was the Invictus Games and in the years since then, the biennial event has grown exponentially, firmly establishing Harry’s global reputation as a deeply compassionate committed humanitarian.


The Invictus Games was Harry’s charitable brainchild and a huge success. Prince Harry and Jon Bon Jovi pose with Invictus Games representatives on London’s Abbey Road crossing on February 28, 2020.

Now, for the first time ever, dark clouds have been cast over the royal’s involvement with the charity, with news breaking over the weekend that a celebrity-stuffed Invictus Games fundraiser slated to be held in LA next year and set to be broadcast on Amazon Prime, had “been cancelled abruptly after their Netflix deal”.

According to the Sunday Times: “Officials at the foundation, of which Harry is patron, were “stunned” after a lawyer for the Sussexes contacted them shortly before the Netflix deal was announced last week, pulling the plug on the project, citing a “conflict” over a planned deal with a rival streaming service.

A source involved in the year-long planning told the paper: “It’s very bad form and everyone at Invictus is gutted. Harry said yes to doing this last year and everything was still moving forwards until a few weeks ago.

“This was going to be a big moment for Invictus where the pot is pretty empty, and it has left them in the lurch. Harry needs to pull his finger out to find another way to raise funds for them.”

Getty

Jul, 2016

US actress Meghan Markle meets Prince Harry through mutual friends in London.

Supplied

Nov 8, 2016

After much media speculation, Kensington Palace confirms Prince Harry is dating Meghan in a statement criticising both mainstream coverage of his girlfriend and the “outright sexism and racism of social media trolls”.

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May 20, 2017

Prince Harry takes Meghan as his 'plus one' to Pippa Middleton’s wedding reception. Meghan reportedly met her future sister-in-law Kate – who was kept busy at the wedding wrangling the young bridal party – for the first time in January that year.

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Sep 3, 2017

Meghan meets Harry’s grandmother, the Queen, for the first time, according to media reports. While that meeting is low-key, there are plenty of photo opportunities when she joins Harry at the Invictus Games later that month.

Supplied / Getty

Oct, 2017

Meghan opens up about her relationship with Harry in the October edition of Vanity Fair, asking people to understand “this is our time”. “We’re in love.”

AFP

Nov 27, 2017

The royal engagement is announced, with a statement from Clarence House saying Harry popped the question in London earlier that month.

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Dec 25, 2017

Meghan attends the Christmas Day church service at Sandringham and is pictured as part of the Royal “fab four” – William, Harry, Kate and Meghan.

Getty

Feb 28, 2018

Meghan joins Kate and the royal brothers for the inaugural Royal Foundation forum. Harry says: “Working as family does have its challenges … But we are stuck together for the rest of our lives.”

AFP

May 19, 2018

Harry and Meghan say ‘I do’ in a ceremony at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. After a series of controversies, the bride’s father stays away and Prince Charles walks her down the aisle.

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Jun 15, 2018

Meghan joins the Queen for events and a walkabout in Cheshire, northwest England, after they travelled together on the royal train. The trip is seen as an acknowledgement of Meghan's place in The Firm and a sign of the Royals' trust in her to successfully carry out her public duties.

Hollie Adams

Oct 15, 2018

Meghan holds large folders in front of her stomach – sparking baby speculation – as she and Harry arrive in Sydney for a 16-day tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.

AAP

Oct 16, 2018

The couple – pictured on Fraser Island – publicly announce they are expecting their first child, having reportedly told the Royal family at Princess Eugenie’s wedding just days earlier.

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Feb 10, 2019

Britain’s Mail on Sunday publishes a letter sent by Meghan the previous August to her father Thomas detailing the deep rift between the pair and condemning his involvement with the media.

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Apr, 2019

The parents-to-be leave Kensington Palace – and William and Kate behind – to live at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, an outward sign of the widely-rumoured serious rift between the couples, which earlier saw their Household Offices split.

AFP

May 6, 2019

Baby Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor is welcomed into the world, seventh in line to the throne, but there's a sense of the public being cheated by a lack of information and the couple's refusal to pose for the traditional family photo outside hospital.

AFP

Jun, 2019

There's a show of family togetherness as Harry and Meghan take part in Trooping the Colour, but the pageantry can't hide the fractures beneath the surface as they cut ties with the Royal Foundation charity. They launch Sussex Royal instead of teaming with William and Kate.

Getty

Jul 6, 2019

Archie is christened, but the happy event manages to generate controversy because of his parents’ perceived excessive secrecy, including not naming the godparents. Fans get their next glimpse of Archie at a polo match a few days later.

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Jul 14, 2019

Elton John chats to the royal couple at a premiere in London. In August, the singer jumped to their defence as they were slammed again – this time over their use of private jets while urging others to take action on the environment and climate change.

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Sep 24, 2019

Harry and Meghan begin a 10-day African tour which sees a public appearance from baby Archie during a meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

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Oct 1, 2019

The successes of the tour are overshadowed as Harry issues a statement saying Meghan has been vilified by the press and that they are suing the Mail on Sunday over the publication of the letter to her father. "My deepest fear is history repeating itself," he writes, referencing his mother's death.

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Oct 20, 2019

In a documentary filmed on the African tour, Meghan says it has “been a struggle” adjusting to marriage and motherhood under constant scrutiny.

Twitter / AFP

Dec 25, 2019

It’s a very different Christmas from the previous two years, as Harry and Meghan snub the Queen’s traditional family gathering to holiday in Canada with their son, part of a six-week break from Royal duties.

AFP

Jan 8, 2020

Back in the UK, the couple release a bombshell statement saying they will step back as senior members of the Royal Family, work to become financially independent and split their time between the UK and US. Meghan and Archie return to Canada.

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Jan 13, 2020

The media camps out at Sandringham, awaiting Harry's arrival for a family summit on his future. After the talks, the Queen offered her support and spoke of a period of transition for the Sussexes, while noting there were “complex matters for my family to resolve”.

Instagram

Jan 18, 2020

The new order is established: Harry and Meghan lose their HRH titles, step back from royal duties, forgo their share of sovereign grant funds, and will pay back taxpayers for work on their Windsor home.

Getty

Feb 7, 2020

Details emerge of Harry’s speech to an investment summit in Florida. A source says the prince told of the therapy he had undergone to overcome the trauma of his mother Diana's death and explained “Megxit” was necessary to protect his own wife and child.

AFP

Feb 19, 2020

It’s reported the Queen and senior officials have ruled Harry and Meghan must no longer use Sussex Royal in their branding as it is not appropriate for them to use the word royal.

AFP

Mar 9, 2020

The couple attend the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey – their last public appearance as working royals – having returned to the UK without Archie. Within hours, Meghan heads back to Canada, with Harry following days later.

AFP

Mar 26, 2020

Details of the couple's move from Vancouver Island to Los Angeles are revealed, but it seems many of their ambitious plans to relaunch themselves will be put on hold because of coronavirus.

AFP

Apr 20, 2020

In another blast at the media, Harry and Meghan send a letter to several British editors saying there will now be “zero engagement” with their papers – a move seen by some as self-absorbed and tone deaf amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Instagram

May 1, 2020

Meghan loses the first round in her legal fight with the Mail on Sunday, with a judge ruling part of her case should be struck out. There's more positive news a few days later when she and Harry release video of Meghan reading to Archie to mark his first birthday and support Save the Children.

Supplied

Jun, 2020

Two new books, in particular Royals at War, ensure the couple make headlines again, reopening old wounds and suggesting Harry is “secretly tortured” over leaving the Royal Family.

Queen's Commonwealth Trust

Jul 2, 2020

Leaked documents from the Mail on Sunday case reveal Meghan felt "unprotected" by the Royal family from "false and damaging" articles when she was pregnant. Days later, on a video call tackling racism, Harry says the Commonwealth must address its past, seen by some as a fresh swipe at the Royals.

AFP / Supplied

Jul 25, 2020

New details of the resentment that built up between Harry and Meghan and the rest of the Royal family emerge as extracts from new book Finding Freedom are published. It's said one senior royal called Meghan "Harry's showgirl", and details the slights and snubs the couple felt they faced.

Getty

Sep 3, 2020

The couple announce a deal with Netflix, estimated to be worth $A340 million, under which they will produce a range of shows. "Our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope," they say. "As new parents, making inspirational family programming is also important to us."

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Sep 8, 2020

Flush with cash, the couple pay off their $A5m debt for the renovations of their UK home, putting a line under a saga that had angered British taxpayers. A statement says Frogmore Cottage "will remain the UK residence of The Duke and his family".

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(An Invictus spokesman has said the “given current circumstances with COVID, the event needed to be reconceptualised” and that this was a “decision made prior to a partnership with Netflix”.)

The danger here for Harry is significant. Invictus was his brainchild (though very much modelled on the pre-existing Warrior Games) and his greatest personal triumph. However, the optics of this situation are abysmal for the Prince.

The way this chapter has unfolded timing-wise has created the appearance, rightly or wrongly, that he (and Meghan) are putting the truckloads of moolah on offer from Netflix ahead of charitable endeavours, which could be hugely damaging to his personal brand.


Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle at the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games in Sydney in October 2018.

But wait, there’s more! More bad news for the Sussexes that is.

According to The Sun, the Queen was not consulted about the deal and learned about it via aides. A palace insider has told The Mirror, “It goes without saying any deals they are making will be scrutinised by the royal household. Under the terms of their deal to forgo their royal duties, they agreed any commercial deals would be subject to discussion.”

“Both the royal family and senior courtiers will be aware of how this looks to the public, especially as the couple have not yet paid back the £2.4 million ($A4.3 million) they promised to refund to the taxpayer for Frogmore Cottage, which will be their UK base.”

One, it sounds like, is not amused.


Meghan Markle and Prince Harry may have upset Gan-Gan with the Netflix deal too. 

Next up, and speaking of Frogmore, there have been calls from a group of British MPs for Harry and Meghan to dip into their newly lined, and deep, pockets to “quickly” pay back the millions they have pledged to repay for their Windsor home.

Under the current arrangement, the Sussexes are paying back the money in monthly instalments and at the current rate, according to former MP and current Privy Council member Norman Baker, it will take them 25 years to repay the full sum.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, deputy chair of the British parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, has told The Telegraph that the schedule should be “modified to pay the money back earlier”.

There is no escaping the fact that what all of these potential PR crises have in common is money.

There is a certain depressing inevitably to this current schmozzle, given that the intersection of the Sussexes’ business ambitions and their royal ties was most likely always going to be problematic.


Money is at the root of many of the Sussexes current controversies. 

Through no fault of their own, the blunt collision of the commercial world with the rarefied inner sanctum of the royal family is a minefield that no senior or former senior member of the House of Windsor has ever managed to successfully navigate.

Prince Edward’s production company was dissolved with about $70 left in the bank; Sophie Countess of Wessex shuttered her PR firm after a press debacle; and Prince Andrew’s trade envoy role was plagued by controversy not to mention his penchant for expenses paid travel earned him the less than edifying sobriquet ‘Airmiles Andy’.

(Royal biographer Ingrid Seward, in a new book about Prince Philip, writes of Prince Andrew that he “would have done well to heed his father’s warnings of the dangers of being used, especially by what Philip described as ‘seedy billionaires’ looking for a pet royal to elevate their own status.”)

Perhaps there can be no greater cautionary tale about the dangers of royalty and mammon mixing than the sight of Sarah, Duchess of York on TV in the United States peddling an $80 juicer in 2015, with money woes having plagued the beleaguered royal for more than two decades.

For Harry and Meghan, striking a balance between (potentially crass) commercialism and maintaining their altruistic pedigree was always going to be a fraught, highwire act. And no matter how they deal with the current headaches that have arisen over the last few days, this is an issue that is likely to plague their royal careers.


Prince Harry now needs to tread the line between being a royal and making money, something no senior royal has ever navigated successfully.

Even Finding Freedom, the highly sympathetic biography of the Sussexes’ romance and departure from royal life quoted a source familiar with their exit negotiations saying, “The biggest row was over money, because it always is.”

When it comes to dosh, Harry and Meghan face a Catch 22. If they rely on Charles to fund their US lifestyle they will face criticism for suckling on the paternal teat. (Plus it would negate all their talk about achieving financial independence.)

However, if they go out and earn a legitimate crust on their own (say, by signing a $130 million Netflix deal) and it inadvertently raises questions about their motives for quitting.

Previously, as working members of the royal family, Harry and Meghan (like the remaining Windsors back on the job in London) were somehow seen as above money.

Now they are living in the real world – the rarefied environs of Santa Barbara at least – they can’t escape both the necessity of it and the significant PR pitfalls of going out and trying to get some for themselves.

The inherent tension is that they need to protect their image as two change makers wholly driven by altruistic zeal while simultaneously running a commercial empire built on their do-gooder brand.


Now they aren’t officially working royals, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have the task of being commercial while still retaining integrity.

And here’s the thing: Royalty and the commercial world are always going to be deeply uneasy bedfellows.

And for Harry and Meghan, despite their success in nailing the sort of stonking, headline-grabbing Hollywood deal that has been mooted since the minute they announced their intention to get paying jobs, for the rest of their careers they will face the Sisyphean task of achieving some sort of uneasy truth their financial needs and their humanitarian cred.

Oscar Wilde also once adroitly opined, “When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life. Now that I am old, I know that it is.” Maybe he did know people like the Sussexes after all.


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