Will losing Sussex Royal impact Harry and Meghan's brand power?

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent
Harry and Meghan will likely lose the royal part of their branding. (Getty Images)

As professionals, businesses and celebrities alike will know, getting your branding right is crucial to success.

But Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle may have suffered a blow this week, when it emerged it’s unlikely they will be able to continue using the moniker Sussex Royal as they step back from senior duties.

The couple announced in January that they wanted to carve out their own path, and hoped to be able to carry on serving the Queen but also gain financial independence.

That meant giving up royal duties for which they receive payment from the Crown.

But, after intense talks between Buckingham Palace and the couple’s team, it became clear they would not be able to have a half-in, half-out lifestyle.

Read more: The 360: Does it matter if Meghan and Harry are gone for good?

The couple will still have a huge amount of personal brand power. (Getty Images)

Since then, the pair have been busy preparing for what they might do once they stop getting public funding.

A big part of that was the brand name - Sussex Royal.

It’s been all over their website and their Instagram account, but now it seems they won’t be able to use it, with the palace likely to rule against the word ‘royal’.

Brand expert Deborah Ogden told Yahoo UK: “With a personal brand, there is no question that they have invested their profile globally and established that.

“But it’s my belief that a personal brand is more than a logo, so what they would spend time building is a strong reputation and strong profile to support certain causes.

“They have been clever in the causes they have supported and messages they have put out there.

“They will lose some value from the Sussex Royal brand but my belief is that Prince Harry will always be Prince Harry therefore in the UK market, the American market, and the global markets that recognise the British Royal Family, I’m not sure taking it away will have a huge impact.”

Read more: Date Prince Harry and Meghan will end royal duties confirmed

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been living in Canada with their son Archie. (Getty Images)

Zoe Middleton-Lyons, senior account manager for branding agency Underscore, said: “The Royal suffix comes with its own legacy, however brands need to constantly evolve in order to be relevant to their audience and the next generation.

“Rebranding may be beneficial for the young royals as this is their chance to move away from the confines of the brand that they were born/married into. Change is beneficial for brands whether it is a new tone of voice, brand name or internal business changes.

“This is especially true for Meghan and Harry at such a crucial stage in their lives , as they can begin to create their own legacy.

“With any ‘rebrand’ there is an initial impact, as people become attached to the original name and perception of that brand, however if the transition is handled correctly their new status and 'brand' will thrive.”

Read more: Magazine claim about Harry and Meghan split was 'blatantly incorrect'

Prince Harry and Meghan will be able to make their own money from April. (Getty Images)

Thomas Coop, UK Chartered trade mark attorney for law firm Fieldfisher said: “Trade Mark applications at the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) can be refused if the products or services covered by the application would lead people to believe that there is an association with the Queen or the Royal Family.

“This can include images in trade mark applications which are similar to the royal crown, royal flags, royal arms as well as wording which may suggest that the applicant has or recently has had royal patronage or authorisation.”

Coop said there had recently been an application for the word royal to be used on a trade mark relating to catering and it was refused, but one related to using royal for disco services was accepted.

He added: “It is interesting to see that Harry and Meghan's UK trade mark application for SUSSEX ROYAL was published.

“Therefore, it is possible that the Queen consented to the initial application and has therefore, now withdrawn this consent.”

Coop said the Sussexes might be able to get some temporary protection from EU law, because those provisions of the use of the word royal are not the same as in the UK.

But this wouldn’t last past the end of the transition period, which finishes on 31 December 2020.

He added: “Overall, as the UK is likely to be an important market for Harry and Meghan, they will probably need to consider rebranding or come to some new arrangement with the Queen so they can gain the benefits of having registered protection for their brand name, such as making it much simpler to enforce against other parties.”

Buckingham Palace confirmed the Sussexes would end their royal duties from 31 March, meaning from 1 April onwards they can make their own money.