It is currently a top of -1 degrees on Vancouver Island, the idyllic, remote Canadian spot where Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have been holed up in a borrowed $20 million mansion.
Contrast that with Miami, Florida, where the mercury hit 21 degrees this week. Now where would you choose to spend a couple of days?
This week the Sussexes did exactly that, briefly trading snowy Canada to fly south. However, the chance to soak up some precious vitamin D wasn’t the only thing on offer, with multiple reports that the duo also spoke at JP Morgan’s Alternative Investment Summit.
In the days since then, details have leaked out, namely that Harry spoke about losing his mother before he and Meghan rubbed shoulders with A-listers including Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez.
One particular aspect of the excursion though has provoked much speculation – namely, how much they would have been paid for the gig. Reports vary wildly from $700,000 to $1.49 million but no matter the dollar figure, their Florida foray would, according to reports, have given a nice boost to their bank account.
And while there has been no confirmation that they were paid, equally there have been no denials and more broadly, if the Sussexes were picking up paid work it would make sense given that their stated goal to become “financially independent”.
But, there is no getting away from the fact that this, the newly liberated royals’ first commercial venture raises a number of questions about the couple’s finances.
A quick refresher: When Harry and Meghan were full-time working members of the royal family, flying the flag for the Queen and St George, they earned money through two channels. Firstly, an unspecified sum from the Sovereign Grant which is the allowance given to working Windsors to pay for official travel and office expenses. Secondly, they got a very nice whack of cash from the Bank of Dad, with Prince Charles giving both the Sussexes and the Cambridges about $2 million of dosh each year to actually live on.
Lastly, both Harry and Meghan are independently wealthy with estimates of their combined net worth veering between $20 million and $60 million. Suffice to say, baby Archie won’t be eating non-organic kale puree any time soon.
When the Sussexes last month announced they wanted to step back from frontline duties, they made clear they intended to start earning their own cash at which point it soon became apparent that they are set to make a motza.
Books, TV deals and yes, paid speeches, were all mooted given this is the pretty standard route for former Presidents and Prime Ministers.
The Queen and Prince Charles, though, weren’t forcing Harry and Meghan to fend for themselves straight away, with claims that the Prince of Wales would continue to fund the couple for the next year.
However, this is where things start to get tricky. The Sussexes are still in the transition period between royal life and freedom – for example, they have agreed to stop using their styling as His/Her Royal Highnesses but only once they have left.
Thus when they were in Florida they were still able to rightfully be addressed as HRHs.
Which puts them in a bit of a pickle, allegedly taking a commercial pay cheque even though they are still tied to the royal family, creating the very unfortunate perception that they are cashing in on their royal status.
Likewise, Harry talking about the loss of his mother and his mental health at a paid gig has led some people on social media to accuse him of monetising his grief.
The bottom line is, timing is crucial. Once the couple are officially out of the royal family, this sort of lucrative endeavour will surely be their bread and butter. But while they are in this strange royal no man’s land, deciding to take this job could certainly ruffle feathers back in London.
Then there is the question of whether they are double dipping by taking Charles’ money and JP Morgan’s greenbacks.
All of which is before we have even got to an issue that has yet to be resolved, namely the name of their brand. The Times reported over the weekend that the duo have still not been given the clearance to use the Sussex Royal brand for their commercial ventures, and “palace aides remain concerned that the couple may be seen to be ‘cashing in’”.
Clearly the Sussexes want a new life, free of royal protocol. However, sadly, their new existence looks no less fraught with complications, especially when it comes to the bottom line.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with 15 years experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.