Harry and Meghan — A Study in Business Transition Best Practice
Updated: Feb 11
As we continue our dark winter hunkering down and the news on in the background, I look forward to coverage that does not include pandemic numbers and politics, well at least the politics of our country.
It’s been almost a year since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex famously resigned from “The Firm” and business of being Royal to make the move to sunny California, and a life less encumbered by Royal protocol. I admire the Royals, as they have the best family business succession planning on Earth, with untold fortunes to support the most senior royals through land lease deals passed down through generations. However, for the Sussexes, leaving the family business also meant forfeiting the family money.
Before we start a Go Fund Me for our new residents from across the pond, news of a big deal with Netflix will certainly soften the blow – as will the recently announced successful investment by the Duchess in a new healthy latte start-up. Sounds like they are building quite a portfolio for themselves and their young son? What should we mere commoners take away from their transition to independence?
While the Duke, Harry, grew up in a life of unimaginable privilege (and personal tragedy), reportedly he has long been contemplating how his life could unfold as he continued to be pushed back in the line of succession to the throne. However, without the trappings of royalty, how would he breakaway and support himself?
In Meghan Markle, he found a talented, resourceful, media savvy partner. The business of fame requires constant reinvention. The couple certainly took stock of their desires, opportunities and possible income paths to create a plan to financial freedom from the Royal firm. In following the couple, their plan includes streaming programming productions with content that promotes their humanitarian interests, investments in companies aligned to their values, and speaking engagements.
Our takeaway – as difficult as it might be to hear, allow loved ones to articulate their passions and how they envision their lives unfolding. Family businesses, passed down generationally, need to incorporate the wants and needs of individuals and find a way to make it work. For the sake of healthy family relationships, there should be recognition that the needs of the individuals may not align with the needs of the business. That’s ok.
While ultimately the Sussex’s achieved independence, it was not without heartache (and unfolding in front of the world). It takes a lot of courage to address these matters as an outlier, while being resolute about individual needs. However, the Queen, and protector of the Firm, also needed to be firm in asserting how this transition would impact Royal life, protocol and needs of the family business moving forward. It’s a give and take. It takes a lot of communication.
While I wish I could be a fly on the wall, I can only hope the family had an advisor to facilitate hard conversations and work to bring all the parties to healthy and workable solutions. Advisors can be instrumental in framing the desires, facilitating conversation and moderating discussion with a wealth of knowledge and tools.
While I don’t know how one would apply to be such an advisor, I’m up to the task!
Note: H. Barry Goodman of Birkdale Transition Partners is not, and has not been retained by those named in this article. Comments are made purely with publicly available information and fictionalized scenarios for illustrative purpose.
Credit: Getty Images