It’s a good day for the British monarchy brand.
With Clarendon House announcing Prince Harry’s engagement to American actress Meghan Markle, the royal family got one more brand ambassador.
A statement from the official residence of Charles, Prince of Wales, confirmed what had been speculated: that Prince Harry and Markle are engaged and will marry this spring.
“His Royal Highness and Ms. Markle became engaged in London earlier this month,” it said. “Prince Harry has informed Her Majesty the Queen and other close members of his family. Prince Harry has also sought and received the blessing Ms. Markle’s parents.”
The announcement ignited a wave of buzz about the happy couple and sparked speculation about their big day. Among the many unknowns—Who will design her dress? Where will they wed?—there’s one certainty: The addition of Markle is a boon to the royal family.
Consulting firm Brand Finance pegs the monarchy’s current value at 67.5 billion pounds, including tangible assets—like the Crown Jewels—and intangible boosts to the British economy, like “pomp and circumstance” that draws tourists to royal residences.
The firm estimates the royals’ 2017 tourism “uplift” at 550 million pounds annually. If history is any guide, the 2018 royal wedding will add to that sum by attracting additional visitors to the U.K. An extra 350,000 visitors came to the U.K. in April 2011, the month Prince William and Kate Middleton wed.
But the additional value Markle brings to the British monarchy reaches beyond the wedding itself, says Konrad Jagodzinski of Brand Finance. Simply put, she’ll be another royal family member representing the monarchy on the world stage.
Much of the royal family’s value is derived from its close association with Britishness and the United Kingdom. That said, Jagodzinski sees Markle’s American citizenship, her one-time Canadian residency, and her career as a television actress as assets. Those traits means she could introduce the monarchy to audiences that wouldn’t necessarily be reached by a more traditional Brit, Jagodzinski says.
In those markets, she’s likely to generate “more interest in what’s going on in Britain, the British brands she’s wearing, and any other unofficial endorsements,” Jagodzinski says.
On that front too, it’s helpful to look to Markle’s soon-to-be-sister-in-law Kate, the duchess of Cambridge, for reference.
In past year, Brand Finance has pointed to the duchess’s well–documented “Midas touch” or “Kate effect,” defined as “the uplift to fashion and other brands worn, used or otherwise endorsed” by the duchess.
Walmart’s U.K. arm Asda, for instance, reported a 300% sales boost of its beige coats after the duchess was spotted wearing a similar Burberry design.
In its most recent report, Brand Finance grouped all royals together when estimating the value of their “unofficial endorsements,” pegging it at 200 million pounds in 2017. (That estimate was actually down from 325 million pounds in 2015, due to Kate and Will’s effort to shield their children George and Charlotte from the public eye and downplay their marketing ability.) But a Brand Finance report from 2015 makes clear that Kate accounts for a large chunk of that value. In 2015, it said the “Kate effect” alone was worth 152 million pounds. (The “Charlotte effect” was valued at 101 million pounds; the “George effect” at 76 million.)
The value of the “Meghan effect” will depend on how public Markle is in her new royal role, Jagodzinski says, but he expects it to be similar to Kate’s.
Markle “has already got quite an interesting and strong brand,” he says, alluding to her acting career and her work as a philanthropist. He expects her value as a royal “to be very similar to the duchess of Cambridge in Britain and abroad, especially in markets where she already has a special relationship—the USA and Canada.”
Markle’s “unofficial endorsements” have already meant big bucks to some companies. When Markle attended the Invictus Games in Canada in September wearing Finlay & Co. sunglasses, the style sold out, generating $26,885 in sales in 24 hours for the British eyewear brand and crashed its website.