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Why Prince Harry & Meghan Markle's exit won't mean the end of royal 'soft power'

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s exit from their official royal duties might just pay off.

The couple, who announced they’d be stepping down as ‘senior’ royal members and work to become ‘financially independent’ in a bombshell Instagram post on Wednesday, filed to trademark the name of their brand ‘Sussex Royal’ in the UK.

If approved, the trademark — first filed in June — would cover a long list of classifications. Those include printed matter, clothing, campaigning, charitable fundraising and education, just to name a few.

What the application seems to indicate is that the couple will turn ‘Sussex Royal’ into a household brand, potentially allowing them to sell merchandise, or get paid for the brand to be in place.

“The young royals are an extension of British soft power, acting as one of the biggest pull factors for tourists visiting this country,” David Haigh, CEO of business valuation consulting firm Brand Finance, told Yahoo Finance in an email.

“People flock from all over the world to see the birth of royal babies or line the mall for royal weddings,” he added.

This could lead to a variety of possible ventures, including a new clothing line, charity organization, or even an extension of Prince Harry’s mental health initiative.

Book deals, signings and public appearances could also add extra income. Something the couple was banned from doing as full-time members of the royal family.

Furthermore, the decision to make the announcement on Instagram, and not through the official office of Buckingham Palace, is another telling sign that Harry and Meghan are firmly committed to crafting their brand, and using the platform to present themselves to the world.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they’d be stepping down as ‘senior’ royal members and work to become ‘financially independent’ in a bombshell Instagram post on Wednesday

Reaction to Harry and Meghan’s plans have ranged from supportive to shocked — especially among Britain’s notoriously brutal tabloids.

One concern amongst royal experts is that the move will damage the brand of the British monarchy as a whole — especially considering the royal family injects roughly $2 billion dollars into the U.K.’s economy every year, according to Brand Finance.

The CEO told YFi PM that the young royals will continue to have an impact wherever they end up — whether that’s London or North America.

The British monarchy injects roughly $2.3 billion dollars into the UK economy every year with fans and spectators flying far and wide to catch a glimpse of the young royals (Source: Brand Finance)

According to the firm, “the value of the monarchy to the U.K. economy will continue to grow and captivate royal fans far and wide,” Haigh added.

“The evolving role of the young royals will still be valid and interesting. People will continue to follow the brands that are endorsed by the young royals,” he said.

What Harry and Meghan are giving up

Within the current structure, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex earn their income through two funds: the Sovereign Grant and the Duchy of Cornwall.

The Sovereign Grant, funded in part of by British taxpayers, contributes 5% to the couple’s total income and is used to finance and support the official duties of the Queen including travel, security, staff and building upkeep.

Last year, the Sovereign Grant totaled $107.9 million, although it is unclear exactly how much Harry and Meghan received as part of their allowance.

Access to this fund is ultimately what the royal couple will be losing, but they will continue to seek access to the Duchy of Cornwall, the fund that contributes to the remaining 95% of their income.

The Duchy of Cornwall is a private estate account maintained by Prince Charles. The estate is valued at roughly $1.2 billion with Prince Charles receiving approximately $28.3 million to distribute amongst his family.

The New York Times reported both Prince Harry and Prince William received an estimated $6.4 million from Prince Charles and the Duchy, although the exact number is still unknown.

Regardless, the royals will continue to reap the benefits of being, well, a royal — as their security detail and housing will still be funded and supported by both the public and the monarchy.

Alexandra Canal is a Producer at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193

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