May 30, 2024

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From Meghan Markle to Fergie and Peter Phillips — a brief history of the best royal side hustles

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 (AP)

(AP)

There are many things we traditionally associate with the Royal Family: pomp, circumstance, corgis and LK Bennett. But not, I would hasten to guess, side hustles.

Of course, the core contingent of working royals is legally prevented from earning extra cash, as they receive an income from the state. But the outliers on the peripheries are at liberty to slog away to their heart’s content. And, by god, do they.

From sponsorship deals to dairy campaigns, we’ve put together a list of the hardest working blue-blooded hustlers this side of Windsor.

Sarah Ferguson

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York is the OG royal hustler (YouTube)

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York is the OG royal hustler (YouTube)

The Duchess of York has used her position as ex-wife of Prince Andrew to her advantage. Sarah Ferguson is perhaps the OG royal hustler, creating quite the stir when she became a second ever spokesperson for Weight Watchers in 1997, reportedly cashing in £1 million a year. Since then, she has had various gigs, eschewing her royal discretion to become something of a media personality, hosting her own mini-series on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network called Finding Sarah and guest hosting a smorgasbord of American talk shows, including The View, The Today Show and Larry King Live.

Fergie’s most recent entrepreneurial venture has involved dipping her quill into the world of writing. She has written several children’s books including Budgie The Helicopter, which was made into a cartoon series. Over lockdown the duchess hosted a weekly Youtube series called Storytime with Fergie and Friends, where she often dressed up in costumes, most memorably little red riding hood, and enacted various children’s stories. The duchess announced the series is on pause for the moment, but she assured fans she will be back soon.

Last summer she released her first novel for adults – Her Heart For A Compass – with famed steamy publishers Mills & Boon. Described by this publication as “amiable tosh”, Fergie has high hopes it will become a TV drama.

Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle on the Ellen DeGeneres show (Ellen DeGeneres/Twitter)

Meghan Markle on the Ellen DeGeneres show (Ellen DeGeneres/Twitter)

No stranger to a side hustle, Markle was slaying the gig economy long before she walked down the aisle with Prince Harry. As well as acting on the successful series Suits, Markle ran her own lifestyle website The Tig, offering Goop-style advice, from her favourite soup recipes to self-love tips. Markle shut down the platform soon after meeting Harry in 2018, but since quitting the Royal Family, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have turned their attention to a different broadcasting medium: podcasting.

Alongside their charitable work, in December 2020 the couple signed a £18 million deal with Spotify to launch their first podcast series with the aim to “elevate underrepresented voices”. Although things went quiet after just one ‘holiday special’ episode, featuring the likes of Elton John and James Corden, it was reported this week that Meghan is launching a new solo series. Spotify and Archewell Audio, announced on March 24, the new show Archetypes will be hosted by the duchess, investigating the labels and stereotypes “that try to hold women back.”

Fergie is not the only royal to write a children’s book. During the pandemic, mother-of-two Meghan penned her own children’s story, The Bench. The book was born of a poem originally written by Meghan to Harry for his first father’s day in 2019. The duchess had the poem inscribed on a plaque on a bench that she gifted to Harry, hence the title. The book was met with mixed reviews, with critics taking umbrage at the lack of any plot. Meghan has also invested in wellness start-up Clevr Blends which specialises in instant oat lattes.

Prince Harry

The Duke of Sussex during a visit to the Kasane Health Post, run by the Sentebale charity, in Kasane, Botswana (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)

The Duke of Sussex during a visit to the Kasane Health Post, run by the Sentebale charity, in Kasane, Botswana (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)

After graduating from prestigious Sandhurst military academy in 200, Harry went on to serve two tours of Afghanistan, climbing the ranks to Captain in 2011. After leaving the army the prince focused his attentions on various charitable organisations, founding the Invictus Games in 2014, a tournament for injured or wounded army personnel to compete against one another in a variety of sports.

Since his breakup with the monarchy in 2020, Harry and Meghan doubled down on their work promoting, among other things, mental health. Founding the non-profit charity, the Archewell Foundation, aiming to raise awareness to unrepresented voices. The savvy couple went on to found their own production company and podcast platform under the Archewell banner, signing deals with Spotify and a five-year Netflix contract for over $100million, according to the Wall Street Journal.

But while Meghan has been busy recording her first female-centric podcast series, Harry has delved into the world of tech start ups, joining San Francisco-based mental health startup BetterUp in March 2021 as their Chief Impact Officer. The role involves making product strategy decisions, charitable contributions, and mental health advocacy, apparently. Oh, and on the side, he is a part-time commissioner for The Aspen Institute’s six-month study on disinformation and misinformation in the US.

Peter Phillips

The Queen's Grandson Peter Phillips is bringing The Longines Global Champions Tour meeting to London Picture: Lucy Young

The Queen’s Grandson Peter Phillips is bringing The Longines Global Champions Tour meeting to London Picture: Lucy Young

The Queen’s eldest grandson and son of Prince Anne has kept rather a low profile over the years, eschewing the world of international politics in favour of corporate hospitality. His varied CV includes: Manager at Jaguar, Sponsorship Manager at Williams F1 racing teams and a brief stint at the Royal Bank of Scotland. He currently runs the UK branch of events agency Sports and Entertainment, but none of these gigs have stopped Phillips from starting his very own side-hustle in, wait for it…the milk business.

In 2019, the 15th in line to the throne appeared in a Chinese television advert promoting Chinese-produced Jersey milk. Phillips told Chinese viewers that he was brought up drinking Jersey milk from a herd in Windsor. In the advert a Chinese voice dubbing over Phillips’ own, says: “I love to drink Jersey Milk” as he accepts a refreshing glass from a butler. After receiving quite the backlash from the British media, it is unclear whether Phillips flogs any more dairy products or has hung up the udders in favour of more back-office corporate duties

Lady Kitty Spencer

 (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Another aristocrat milking her royal links (sorry) is Princess Diana’s niece Lady Kitty. In a bizarre turn of events, Spencer, who works as a model, also dabbled a toe (or pinky) in the milk plugging business. Hosting a launch at the British Museum in 2020 for the Chinese dairy brand Satine, Spencer was snapped sipping a cup of tea and telling onlooking journalists: “The day of the royal family usually begins with a cup of milk or a cup of tea.” In a promotional video for the launch, she added: “Hello, I’m Kitty Spencer, and I’m thrilled to be here to celebrate the collaboration between the British Museum and Satine”.

Zara Tindall

 (PA)

(PA)

Unlike her cousins, Zara Tindall, sister of Peter, doesn’t receive any handouts from the royal coffers. Instead, Tindall has forged a successful career as a professional equestrian, even snagging a silver medal for Britain at the 2012 London Olympics. Since then, Tindall has capitalised on her success to forge a side hustle as, well, for all intents and purposes, an influencer. She is reported to have signed a multitude of lucrative endorsement deals with outdoor clothing company Musto as well as long-standing deals with Land Rover and Rolex. She is also an ambassador for iCandy Prams, and even has her own jewellery line for Australian brand Cajella.

Jack Brooksbank

Tequila time: Jack Brooksbank (Dave Benett/Getty Images for Cas)

Tequila time: Jack Brooksbank (Dave Benett/Getty Images for Cas)

The husband of Princess Eugenie and former manager of Mayfair club Mahiki, works full time as a director in his father’s accountancy firm, Pangaea Land and Property Limited. However, perhaps pining after his Treasure Chest roots (the infamous Mahiki cocktail), Brooksbank has a lucrative side hustle as a brand ambassador for Casamigos tequila. The £45-per-bottle tequila was founded in 2013 by Hollywood royalty George Clooney and Cindy Crawford’s husband Rande Gerber and sold to drinks giant Diageo in 2017 for $1 billion.

Pippa and James Middleton

 (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Ok, so they’re not technically royals but they may as well be. The Duchess of Cambridge’s younger siblings have had the fair share of side hustles over the years, although both share a penchant for cooking. After her impressive posterior went viral following her appearance at Kate and William’s wedding in 2011, Pippa landed her own food column forWaitrose Magazine, as well as a fortnightly sports and social column for the Telegraph and enjoyed a brief stint as contributing editor for Vanity Fair. Pippa also received a reported an advance of £400,000 for a party-planning book called Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends which sold 2,189 copies in its first week, making it only the 185th bestselling book of the week.

The keen sportswoman has taken part in various sporting competitions including Race Across America, a 3,000-mile cycling race across the US, and the Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swimming Race, a 6.5km swimming competition in Istanbul. Her passion for physical exertion will no doubt have influenced her latest side hustle, Pippa’s Playground, listed as a business of “other human health activities”, reportedly including a variety of alternative therapies including: hydrotherapy, medical massage, speech therapy, chiropody, homeopathy, chiropractic practices and acupuncture. In 2020 Pippa and husband, James Matthews, bought a deer safari and petting zoo Bucklebury Farm in 2022, which they are currently in the process of renovating with aims of turning it into a money-spinning child-friendly tourist attraction.

James Middleton, on the other hand, also started out in the food industry. Founding two cake companies after leaving university and an off-shoot Nice Wine, flogging upmarket cake making kits and sweet treats through his parents’ Party Pieces company website. Despite all three businesses going under, Middleton remained undeterred and launched Boomf in 2013 which sold personalised greeting cards and £15 boxes of marshmallows. The firm fell into administration in December 2021. Since them, the animal lover has founded Ella and Co, a mail-order dog food company selling freeze-dried, healthy dog kibble.

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