Meghan Markle's Net Worth: How She Made Her Money Before Marrying Harry

Meghan Markle's Net Worth: How She Made Her Money Before Marrying Harry
Image: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Meghan Markle
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

While no one aside from Meghan Markle and her accountant know exactly what's in her personal bank account, her net worth is generally estimated to be about $5 million. She made that money by herself, years before she met Prince Harry.

That's relevant especially now, after the couple made the bombshell announcement that they were stepping back from being senior members of the royal family, and "work to become financially independent." In other words, give up the financial support from the Sovereign Grant and Prince Charles' estate -- for housing, travel, wardrobe, and other expenses -- that comes with working for "The Firm," aka the British royal family.

Depending on solely himself to make money may be new to Harry -- who was born into an  unimaginably wealthy family and has a personal fortune estimated at as much as $40 million -- mostly inherited from Princess Diana

But Meghan? 

Work is what she does, honey, and what she's always done.

Can we take this moment to be in awe of the balls on this chick? She is walking away from a life of luxury and no financial worries in order to carve out a different, more meaningful life for herself and her family.

But when we look back at her history, it's clear that she does not fear hard work. Though Meghan's father was in the television industry (as a lighting director), and she grew up on the sets of General Hospital and Married with Children, Markle had to work her way up Hollywood's notoriously treacherous ladder to make a career on camera -- and do several side hustles to pay the bills. She then parlayed her fame and position as a cast member of a highly rated show (Suits), into more work, through a fashion partnership with a Canadian retailer and as a social media influencer. 

Little by little, move by move, Meghan built a fortune. 

It's tiny by royal family standards: Queen Elizabeth's personal wealth is estimated at $530 million, Prince Charles' at $400 million. Prince William is worth $40 million, and Kate Middleton came into the royal family with $10 million already in the bank. 

But Meghan earned every penny of her wealth herself. 

With a new chapter looming, and new opportunities -- book deals, speaking fees, new partnerships will surely come as soon as Meghan's and Harry's new roles are fine-tuned -- Meghan's money is sure to grow. But for now, let's take a look at how she earned her personal wealth.

  • Briefcase Model on 'Deal or No Deal'

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    meghan markle on deal or no deal
    Trae Patton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

    For one short season in 2006, Meghan worked as a briefcase girl on the Howie Mandel-hosted game show, Deal or No Deal. It's a time she'd rather forget, as she told Esquire, in a diplomatic way: "Definitely working on Deal or No Deal was a learning experience, and it helped me to understand what I would rather be doing," she said.

    Word is, the gig paid $800 an episode.

  • TV Guest Roles

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    Doing guest roles on TV shows is just part of coming up in Hollywood, and Meghan did her share, appearing on General Hospital, Fringe, 90210, CSI Miami, CSI: New York, and others. While we don't know the specific paydays for those role, it likely added up. For example, a small role on General Hospital is thought to pay $1,000 an episode -- and that's probably assuming said actor is not well-known.

    Not too shabby for a day's work!

  • Film Roles

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    According to reports, two of Meghan's small film roles (both in 2010) netted her sizable earnings. She got paid $187,000 for appearing in the Robert Pattison romance Remember Me, and $171,429 for The Candidate. Meghan also appeared in other movies, including Horrible Bosses. 

  • Lesser Known TV Movie

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    Meghan Markle
    Billy Farrell/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

    Before landing a role in Suits, Meghan lent her acting chops to a number of movies many of us might not have heard of before. One of them was The Boys and Girls Guide to Getting Down which she reportedly took home over $50,000

  • Freelance Calligraphy

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    meghan markle signing a wall at AOL Build event
    Desiree Navarro/WireImage/Getty Images

    Before Meghan landed a job on Suits, she had to audition and struggle just like every other novice actor. But instead of waitressing to support herself -- like so many actors starting out do -- she was a freelance calligrapher (yes, that's a thing). She learned the art of writing in fancy cursive as a student in an all-girls Catholic school.

  • A 'Super Lucrative' Side Hustle

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    meghan markle signing guest book at edes house
    Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty Images

    It turns out that calligraphers make bank. Meghan once told Esquire that she'd designed the wedding invitations for Robin Thicke and Paula Patton, and hand wrote Dolce & Gabbana's Christmas cards to celebrities"It's super lucrative. Because there are so few people doing it," she said. "What's funny is I probably still have some calligraphy business cards floating out in the world and I can't wait for someone to call me in a month or something, and say, 'Can you do these for my son's bar mitzvah?'"

  • Working on 'Suits'

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    Meghan Markle in Suits
    Frank Ockenfels/USA/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

    Meghan got her big break on Suits, the USA Network hit show that centered around a New York law firm. She played paralegal Rachel Zane, the daughter of a wealthy litigator who prefers to make her own money while she's studying to retake the LSAT and go to law school. Rachel (which happens to be Meghan's real first name) also carries on an office romance, and Meghan got married on the show, shortly before leaving it ahead of her engagement to Prince Harry.

  • $50,000 per 'Suits' Episode 

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    meghan markle in suits
    Robert Ascroft/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

    Meghan made the bulk of her fortune thanks to her work on Suits. She reportedly earned about $50,000 per episode playing Rachel Zane, which lasted seven seasons. Given that she appeared in 108 episodes, that would work out to $5.4 million. She also likely earned extra money for appearing in seven Suits webisodes over the years.

  • 'Suits' Residuals & Webisodes

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    meghan markle as rachel zane on suits
    Christos Kalohoridis/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

    Meghan did seven webisodes of Suits -- and in Hollywood, extra content typically means extra money. She also gets residuals every time an old episode airs, basically a check for every re-run. In 2013, Meghan spoke to Marie Claire about her similarities to her character, Rachel. She felt she'd blown the audition, and called her agent to see if she could get another chance. 

    "Rachel and I [are] very similar: ambitious, driven, and always trying to take the bull by its horns. My agent just said, 'There's nothing I can do. Just focus on your next audition.' This was not realizing that behind the scenes, they loved my audition, and were putting together a test deal for me," she said. "And again, maybe that's where I'm similar to Rachel, in that I'm harder on myself than anyone else might be."

  • Running the Lifestyle Blog The Tig

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    Meghan Markle on Suits
    Shane Mahood/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Image

    Meghan branched out from acting in 2014 when she created The Tig, a blog that focused on food, travel, fashion, beauty, and inspiration. It was successful, and before she shut it down in 2017, ahead of her engagement, it had amassed 3  million followers on Instagram, 800,000 on Facebook, and 350,000 on Twitter.

  • $80,000 per Year From The Tig

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    Meghan Markle
    Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

    But The Tig wasn't just a place for Meghan to write about camping in New Zealand with her friends, eating avocado toast, or the importance of positive thinking. She also made an estimated $80,000 a year from sponsored content and partnerships. 

    Not too shabby! 

  • Designing Two Fashion Collections 

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    Meghan Markle
    Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for ShopStyle

    Fashion has always been a huge interest of Meghan's, so putting out a collection was a natural step for her. While living in Toronto (where Suits was filmed), she partnered with Quebec-based retailer Reitmans for two capsule collections -- one consisting of four dresses, and another of work separates. Meghan's relationship with Reitmans began in 2015, when she became the family-owned retailer's brand ambassador. 

  • 'A Virtual First-Day Sell Out'

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    Meghan Markle
    Michael Tran/FilmMagic/Getty Images

    While we don't have financial details on Meghan's deal with Reitmans, celebrities typically get licensing fees or a percentage of the profits. We do know that the collection was a "virtual first day sell out." Meghan ended her partnership with Reitmans in 2017, as her relationship with Harry became more serious.

  • 'When Sparks Fly' Hallmark Movie

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    Christopher Jacot and Meghan Markle in When Sparks Fly
    Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Diyah Perra

    Like an increasing number of actors who know that Hallmark movies have a huge audience, Meghan headed to the beloved channel for a leading role, appearing in two films. (We don't know how much she was paid, but it was likely in the six-figure range for Hallmark's standard three weeks of filming.) In 2014's When Sparks Fly, she played a big-city journalist who goes back to her little hometown to write a Fourth of July piece. She reconnects with her old boyfriend, natch, and love re-blossoms.

  • 'Dater's Handbook' Hallmark Movie

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    Kristoffer Polaha and Meghan Markle in Dater's Handbook
    Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Liane Hentscher

    In 2016, Meghan returned to the Hallmark Channel for the Valentine's Original movie Dater's Handbook. This time, she played Cass, a successful businesswoman, who, in true Hallmark mode, is not successful in her personal life. So she follows a dating book's advice and dates several men at once, before finding her forever guy. 

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