Marriages of convenience, which have a bad habit of going off the rails, are about as royal as cucumber sandwiches and Nazi-sympathising German relatives.
(When Henry VIII first saw Ann of Cleves, the Flemish princess shipped in to forge a political alliance, he famously said, "I like her not" then and after their marriage commented, "Now I like her much worse.")
While the monarchy might have given up on matrimonial plotting in the last century in favour of letting pheromones and university mixers do their work for them, mutually beneficial unions are still very much part of the fabric of royal life.
The most famous marriage, if you will, in recent years has been between Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Netflix.
In 2020 it was revealed that they had signed on the dotted line with the streaming behemoth, in return for a reported payout of up to $140 million.
The line the Sussexes have stuck to since then was that they were essentially forced into this commercial merger after his family promptly turned off the money spigot post-Megxit.
As Harry told Oprah Winfrey during their legendarily peevish interview, their deals with Netflix and Spotify were "never part of the plan."
"We didn't have a plan. That was suggested by somebody else by the point of where my family literally cut me off financially, and I had to afford … afford security for us."
Consider the finger thusly pointed.
The focus on the Sussexes' ties to Netflix were back in the news this week after entertainment website Page Six reports that the ducal duo had been covertly shooting an "'at-home with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex-style' docuseries" for Netflix aka something that sounds suspiciously like a reality show.
"Hollywood insiders," Page Six reported, "are abuzz about the show."
This then seemed to be the tragicomic end point of Charles' tight-fisted parsimony: Poor Harry and Meghan left with no choice but to succumb to Netflix's come hither glances so they could pay for their retinue of beefy bodyguards.
But with Harry and Meghan looking an awful lot like they are going down the Keeping with the Sussexes route, it's worth asking the question, was their money situation truly so baleful that their only option was to sell themselves to the highest TV bidder? Just how dire was their financial situation when they left the royal family?
The obvious starting point here is the money that was left to Harry by both the Queen Mother and Diana, Princess of Wales.
While there has never been an exact figure confirmed, The Times has reported that his total inheritance, assuming it had been invested wisely, would be worth about $40.7 million as of early 2021.
Meghan too was no slouch in the cashed-up department, making history as the first self-made millionaire to marry into the house of Windsor. Her net worth on her wedding day has been pegged at about $5.3 million, by The Times.
Therefore, taken together, when the Sussexes landed in Los Angeles in March 2020, they had between them an estimated $46 million. No small potatoes, I think we can agree.
The other part of this equation then, is obviously, their ongoing costs, the biggest of which was their security. (Harry is currently embodied in legal action back in the UK over the decision by the specialist unit that looks after the Prime Minister and the royal family to have the family's official protection removed.)
Estimates for the duke and duchess' retinue of privately-funded bodyguards have ranged from $1.4 million to $4.7 million. While hardly cheap, for a couple worth $46 million, and for whom book deals and speaking gigs were always on the cards, surely this should have been doable.
Which leaves us with the obvious conclusion: they can't – or won't – live within their means.
If there is one thing that has characterised the Sussexes post-royal lives it is that it is a far more luxurious lifestyle than their former existence.
In 2020, they bought a $20 million house in the very up-market area of Montecito, which sits on five acres and comes with 16 toilets, a five-car garage, cinema, games room, spa, sauna and wine cellar. (Their old joint, Frogmore Cottage? A comparatively paltry five bedrooms and not a Japanese-style teahouse or koi pond in sight.)
Meanwhile, in 2021, according to the bean counters over at the Daily Mail, the duchess wore $25,990 worth of new jewellery, in addition to her large existing collection, in that one year alone.
Did someone at the back there yell, 'private jets'? That too. When they flew to New York for three days in September to waltz about the city to be photographed going in and out of Very Important Meetings, it was by private jet.
For that same Big Apple trip, Meghan wore out first including an $11,957 Loro Piana ensemble to a Harlem school and a $7696 embellished Valentino dress. The website UFO No More, which meticulously tracks the wardrobes of various royals, reported that last year alone the Duchess of Sussex debuted $111,000 worth of new clothes.
While the royal family might be exceedingly rich in a personal capacity, with the Queen's own fortune pegged at about $645 million, this sort of conspicuous display of wealth – cashmere! Diamonds! A Gulfstream! – would be totally anathema to the titled lot back in the UK.
When it comes to the Sussexes' bank accounts, the issue is that while $46 million might be an unthinkable amount of money to you and I, it's pocket change for the company that the Sussexes now keep. Their neighbour and mate Oprah is worth $4.4 billion, royal wedding guests George and Amal Clooney are worth $340 million, while their Montecito neighbour Katy Perry earned $54.9 million in 2020 alone.
Suddenly that $46 million is starting to look a bit meagre.
In the past there have been suggestions that the Sussexes looked to model their new lives on those of former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama, understandable given they are now worth a reported $191 million and he spends his days doing nothing more arduous than recording a podcast with Bruce Springsteen and waxing his wake board in the afternoons.
As royal biographer par excellence Tina Brown recently told the Washington Post of Meghan, "I think it was really she's looking at someone like Michelle Obama and thinking, wow, she has it all. You know, she's got the stature and she has … the ability to live in amazing houses, go on amazing holidays, be the big voice for [humanitarianism]."
It's obvious why this would have been so attractive of a model to aim for; where things fall down is the assumption that commercial partners such as Netflix, which also has the Obamas on its books, would want the same sort of highbrow content from the fifth heir to the British throne and his former cable star wife.
None of it had to be this way. They did not have to buy so grandiose (and gauche) of a mansion; they did not have to start wearing $1830 jumpers from uber-luxe brand The Row; and they did not have to hire a staff for their charitable arm Archewell Foundation, an outfit that has yet to do anything of any meaningful note nearly two years in.
With the benefit of hindsight, one way to look at the "docuseries" position the Sussexes are now in is that when they started their US lives, their eyes were bigger than their bank accounts, thus now leaving themselves in a position where they have no choice but to capitulate to the whims and desires of their corporate bosses. (A case of the greenback-eyed monster?) They wanted a monstrous house fit for a Kim or a Kendall; now they have no choice but to do what is necessary to pay for it.
I don't subscribe to the idea that money is the root of all evil, but it certainly is the root of all reality TV and perhaps even the occasional docuseries, whatever the dickens that is.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and a writer with more than 15 years