Last January, Buckingham Palace released a statement announcing that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would no longer be addressed with royal titles, after the couple’s very public decision to stop being active members of the Royal Family. The Palace said that the couple understood that they would no longer receive public funds, and that they wanted to repay the £2.4 million worth of British taxpayer money that was spent to renovate Frogmore Cottage, the Windsor estate where they’d planned to live before Harry broke up with his grandmother.
A couple of days later, an Australian humor site wrote an Onion-y article suggesting that the couple had started a GoFundMe to raise $300 million for themselves until they found new gigs to keep their royal-adjacent lifestyle going. “We just need some funds while we are between jobs and raising a young child,” Double Bay Today quoted Harry as saying.
Although the Australians were totally kidding, a California woman was 100 percent serious when she started her own GoFundMe for the Duke and Duchess. “Hello, I am Anastasia Hanson of Ventura, California and if you wish to support Harry and Meghan with a $5 donation, they can pay off their house mortgage,” she wrote in a description for the fundraiser, which she hoped would raise $10 million—enough to pay off the $14.65 million 19,000 square foot estate that the couple picked up in Montecito, California last summer.
According to Variety, Harry and Meghan bought the property from Russian businessman Sergey Grishin. The Mediterranean-style mansion, also known as the Chateau of River Rock, has seven bedrooms, 14 bathrooms, a library, gym, two saunas, an elevator, a home theater, while a separate guest house adds two more bedrooms and bathrooms to the total. The property also has a tea house, a “children’s cottage,” a swimming pool and a full-size tennis court.
Despite all of that, Hanson told British tabloid The Sun that she believed that Harry and Meghan were going through a "very rough time,” and that she wanted to find a way—or 10 million ways—to give them a lift. “I like to help people and help them in any way I can,” she said. “That gives me happiness. If you needed a home, I’d do the same for you. It’s a good deed.” (VICE reached out to Hanson for comment, but did not receive a response; her campaign has since been removed, but it has been archived on the Wayback Machine.)
The well-meaning-if-misguided fundraiser was launched after Harry told Oprah Winfrey that the still-royal side of his family had cut him off financially, and that he’d used most of the £10 million ($13.9 million) inheritance he received after his mother’s death to pay for a 24-hour security detail. "I've got what my mum left me, and without that, we would not have been able to do this,” he said of their new life on the West Coast. (When the couple were active members of the Royal family, British taxpayers covered the cost of around-the-clock security.)
Although the couple undoubtedly had to adjust their budgets after moving to a country where Harry’s grandmother’s face isn’t printed on every piece of paper currency, they’re not exactly fumbling under the sofa cushions to find spare change.
Last fall, their newly formed production company signed a multi-year deal with Netflix. Although the streaming service declined to comment on the financial terms, sources told The New York Times that they were “seeking a deal in the neighborhood of $100 million” during negotiations with other entertainment companies. They also picked up a gig producing podcasts for Spotify, a partnership that ITV estimates is worth around $25 million.
So no, they probably don’t need a GoFundMe to cover their mortgage. The fundraiser has since been removed, after raising...um...$110 for the couple. (Hanson put in $5 bucks of her own, and someone identified only as “A Supporter” added $100, a donation that we like to believe came from an ultra-petty Elizabeth II.) GoFundMe did not respond to a request for comment, although its terms and conditions prohibit the use of its services “on behalf of a third party [...] without the express consent of that third party.”
If somebody is willing to donate to a couple of multi-millionaires—even likeable ones like Harry and Meghan—then GoFundMe should at least cut them a check for that $110. It can’t be cheap to keep toilet paper in all 16 of those bathrooms.