Meghan Markle and Prince Harry face a great deal of uncertainty about their future, but also a literal wealth of opportunities.
Will they actually settle down in Canada, or could they decide that Los Angeles is a better base for their new non-royal careers? And speaking of their careers, how will they earn a living? Could it be through lucrative speaking gigs and TV and production deals, in the style of Barack and Michelle Obama?
Yes, all those possibilities are on the table, according to Canadian journalist and royal expert Elaine Lui, speaking on the HeirPod podcast with Omid Scobie, ABC’s royal contributor.
Lui also believes that Meghan could one day become the face of a high-end fashion or perfume brand – in the style of Angelina Jolie.
“In the long-term, I think the perfume business could work,” Lui said. “I look at the example of Angelina Jolie. She is a UN ambassador and a world-class beauty model.”
In the past year, Jolie has become the face of Guerlin perfume, in glamorous ads that also show her love for Cambodia. A video, shot by an Academy Award-winning cinematographer, was filmed in the Southeast Asian country that Jolie first visited in 2000 while filming “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.”
The country’s humanitarian crisis, the result of genocide inflicted by the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979, inspired the Oscar-winning actress and director to become a goodwill ambassador for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Jolie also adopted her oldest son, Maddox, 18, from a Cambodian orphanage. Moreover, her 2017 film, “First They Killed My Father,” offers a true-life account of the Khmer Rouge genocide, told from the perspective of a child.
Scobie initially expressed skepticism at the idea that Meghan and Harry could tastefully use their royal fame to endorse products.
“I can’t see a future when they are suddenly the faces of Ralph Lauren, launching a perform, or advertising milk, which we’ve seen from other non-working members of the royal members,” Scobie said.
Scobie’s mention of milk ads refers to the recent backlash faced by Princess Anne’s son, Peter Phillips, and Harry’s cousin, Lady Kitty Spencer, after they were discovered endorsing milk on Chinese television, the BBC reported.
Peter Phillips, Queen Elizabeth’s oldest grandson, has no royal title, nor any royal responsibilities, but is introduced in the ad for milk from Jersey cows as a “British royal family member.” The ad shows him in various regal settings. Kitty Spencer’s milk ad was partly filmed at the British Museum.
Royal biographer Penny Junor told BBC that the sight of a someone with royal connections using their status for financial gain “always looks bad.” She added, “It does not reflect well on the monarchy.”
To Junor and others, the milk ads raise questions about whether Meghan and Harry would pursue similar work as they try to become financially independent from British taxpayer funding or from private support from Prince Charles.
But Lui pushed back at the idea that Meghan and Harry could never endorse products, citing the elegant way Jolie incorporated her personal and philanthropic interests into her Guerlin ads. Meghan and Harry have similar ambitions to use their global fame and the Sussex Royal brand to promote social justice and environmental causes they care about.
Jolie “manages to intertwine her philanthropic work, in a way that feels organic,” Lui said. “Harry and Meghan have the chance to do the same.”
Jolie’s Guerlin ads certainly aren’t tacky, like the commercial Peter Phillips appeared in. One photo from Jolie’s campaign also promotes a woman-power message that feminist Meghan could probably get behind. The photo, posted to Instagram, comes with the caption, “Inspired by and created for independent women, women who follow their own path and who embrace every aspect of their femininity.”
While Lui said she could see Meghan posing for similar glamour shots, which also convey an important social message, she also said it would come across as crass for Meghan and Harry to start endorsing products anytime soon.
“In the next year or two, probably not,” Lui said. “But in five years, why not? If done well. They certainly have the team behind them to do that.”
Scobie agreed that there needs to be “a review period” during which Meghan, Harry and the royal family assess if and how the couple pursues commercial deals in a way that won’t reflect poorly on the monarchy.
“There is a review period in a few months time, for either if they want to come back in (to the royal family), which I don’t think they will do,” Scobie said. “But it’s also a time for someone in the royal family to come down hard on them if they step out of line.”
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