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During Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry said that the couple never considered going into business with streamers like Netflix and Spotify until a friend suggested it: “I just needed enough money to pay for security to keep my family safe.”
It looks like they will need it, even with deals worth a reported $100 million and $25 million, respectively. Protecting individuals like the Duke and Duchess of Sussex can cost more than eight figures per year, experts say.
According to public filings, Facebook paid $10,463,717 in 2019 and $9,956,847 in 2018 for security for its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his family. It’s a hefty price tag but one that the company revealed was linked with “specific threats,” which can spike not only the number of security operatives under employ but the scope of protection. By comparison, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos saw his company shell out $1.6 million in 2019 for out-of-office security.
When The Hollywood Reporter reached out to Soteria Protection Agency, the firm’s operations officer, Jon Conroy, a 10-year veteran of the business, said that in order to protect a couple like Harry and Meghan, it would require 24/7 staffing with a two-person residential security team, a two-person individual security team for each, and advance guards to prep and prepare for arrival and movements in the case of any travel. Estimated costs for such a team could run upwards of $4,600 per day.
“So much is dictated by what their lifestyle is, so there can be fluctuating costs,” Conroy says, adding that the pair presents a unique scenario from a security standpoint in that they are still perceived to be nobles or diplomats despite splitting from the royal family. Because of that, they fall into the category most similar to the .01 percent: “When people think about security in the sense of high-net-worth people, it’s hard to encapsulate how they are constantly surrounded by people. And to give them the level of comfort and protection, it can be worth every penny.”
Another reason security might have been top of mind for the pair is that stepping out into the spotlight for the couple’s first in-depth interview while discussing weighty personal and political issues about the royal family can bring about new threats. They also revealed details about their home and recreational activities. “It would be an elevated risk, in my opinion,” Conroy says of security needs after the Winfrey chat. “Also, some are conflicted about the interview, so that could pose some security risks as well.”
A version of this story first appeared in the March 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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