Meghan Markle smiling

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle married in May 2018, and much of the world quickly got used to her then-new title as the Duchess of Sussex. Meghan may seem like a natural standing beside other members of the royal family, but, prior to marrying Harry, she was not an aristocrat by any means. Instead, she was what royals would call a commoner — albeit a multi-millionaire version of one.

Upon getting engaged to Harry, Meghan made the decision to give up her career as an actress. "I don’t see it as giving anything up, I just see it as a change," she said in an interview with BBC. Her then-fiancé added, "She’s capable of anything." Meghan’s impressive résumé certainly seems to prove the prince’s statement true.

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Meghan has a reported net worth of $5 million. Although Meghan is often credited as a former actress, that’s not the only way she made her fortune. Here are the deets on how the Duchess of Sussex amassed her wealth.

Meghan Markle was not your average freelancer

Meghan Markle book signing

Before Meghan Markle’s acting career took off, she had her hands in the gig economy — quite literally. In an interview with Esquire, Meghan explained her knack for cursive handwriting after taking classes in Catholic school. "What it evolved into was my pseudo-waitressing job when I was auditioning. I didn’t wait tables. I did calligraphy for the invitations for, like, Robin Thicke and Paula Patton’s wedding," she revealed.

Meghan was also hired to do hand-lettering for Dolce & Gabbana’s celebrity correspondence. "I would sit there with a little white tube sock on my hand so no hand oils got on the card, trying to pay my bills while auditioning," Meghan told Esquire. While calligraphy isn’t your average job, Meghan said it can be "super lucrative." According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a fine artist can expect to make around $49,000 per year. Certainly not as much as an acting salary, but Meghan likely earned more than your average fine artist by being a celebrity calligrapher.

Meghan Markle started out in soaps

Meghan Markle early 2000s

Part of Meghan Markle’s childhood was spent on the set of the popular soap opera General Hospital. Although her parents weren’t actors on the show, Meghan Markle’s father was the lighting director and, for a time, her mother was a substitute assistant makeup artist.

On her now-defunct blog, The Tig, Meghan described what it was like behind the scenes — and it sounded amazing. "And there I was … surrounded by famous actors and their glam teams, multi-million-dollar budgets, and crew lunches that always included filet mignon and enough sweets to make you think you were at Willy Wonka‘s Chocolate Factory," she wrote (via Toronto Sun). That’s what your childhood was like too, right?

Given her impression of the soap, it’s no surprise she ended up starring in an episode herself some years later. In 2002, Meghan was cast for a small part as Nurse Jill in General Hospital. "Even as a 19-year-old she had great skill, presence and poise," the show’s casting director, Mark Teschner, told Toronto Sun. However, Meghan likely didn’t make much for her small role. According to Bizfluent, an unknown soap actor could max out at around $700 a day.

Deal or No Deal wasn’t such a great deal for Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle Deal or No Deal

It’s hard to picture now, but Meghan Markle was once a Deal or No Deal model. After interning for the United States Embassy in Argentina, Meghan appeared on the popular American gameshow from 2006 to 2007. "I would put that in the category of things I was doing while I was auditioning to try to make ends meet," Meghan explained to Esquire about why she took the job of "briefcase girl." Meghan also divulged that she was "the ill-fated number 26" — the one contestants would never choose for some unknown reason. She recalled lots of standing around in high heels just wishing her name would be called so she could go sit down.

Though Meghan hasn’t said how much the modeling gig paid, USA Today reported that each episode of the show cost $700,000, with nearly $600,000 of that allotted for production and "talent fees," including host Howie Mandel’s pay, as well as the models and other staff. With a well-known host, full-time staff, and 26 models to pay, that means Meghan likely didn’t pull in too much dough with this job.

Meghan Markle had many one-off roles and cameos

Meghan Markle Early 2000s

Between Meghan Markle’s very first acting gig as a nurse on General Hospital in 2002 to her first speaking role in a major feature film in 2010, Meghan starred in 11 different television shows. Now, how’s that for versatility? Without a Trace, 90210, CSI (both Miami and New York), and Fringe were just some of the series in which the up-and-coming actress landed roles.

When playing Junior FBI Agent Amy Jessup in a couple episodes of Fringe, Meghan was able to experience some of the excitement that comes with acting in television crime dramas. "We did a month of gun training, kicking down doors, and it’s such a departure from who I am. That’s the fun part of our job — to be able to play dress up, and to really throw yourself into something you otherwise wouldn’t," Meghan said in an interview with Marie Claire.

Although Meghan didn’t reveal how much she was paid for her two-day stint on Fringe, Deadline explained that recurring actors — aside from special "Guest Stars" — can be hired for as little as $906 a day or less, at $2,294 for three days. Though, we don’t know how the pay works for a month-long training like she described. Every bit counts, though, right?

Meghan Markle found major roles

Meghan Markle 2012

After acting in quite a few bit parts, Meghan Markle finally started securing more major roles. In 2010, Meghan starred in The Candidate, a short thriller, in which she’s reported to have earned around $153,000, according to knownetworth.com. In that same year, Meghan reportedly earned a higher grossing part in Remember Me, a mainstream film starring Robert Pattinson. According to knownetworth.com, Meghan received $187,000 for her similarly named character, Megan, in the movie.

Come 2011, Meghan starred in the TV movie The Boys and Girls Guide to Getting Down. According to knownetworth.com, Meghan is said to have earned over $50,000 for her role as Dana. Meghan continued to pull in more roles, and, in 2014, began working with the Hallmark Channel to play a lead actress in the movie When Sparks Fly. Meghan teamed up with the network again some two years later to play another lead role in Dater’s Handbook.

As someone so experienced with made-for-TV movies, you have to wonder if she watched Lifetime’s Harry and Meghan: A Royal Romance.

Meghan Markle made bank with Suits

Meghan Markle Suits Premiere

While Meghan Markle was busy playing the lead in television movies and making cameos in films like Horrible Bosses, she was also starring in the TV series Suits. This would be the show that made Meghan Markle a household name.

"Before Suits," Meghan explained to Marie Claire, "I did a pilot every single year." Meghan said she’d actually even filmed a pilot with one of her Suits costars some six years prior the show. Meghan further admitted, "It’s crazy to finally have a pilot that has more than the longevity of one season — this is like my cup runneth over."

Due to Harry and Meghan’s engagement and eventual marriage, Meghan made the difficult decision to part ways with the show after seven long years. "Once we hit the 100 episode marker, I thought, ‘You know what? I have ticked this box.’ And I feel really proud of the work I’ve done there and now it’s time to… work as a team with [Harry]," Meghan said in an interview with BBC.

Of course, that meant Meghan was also reportedly leaving behind a whopping $50,000 per episode, according to knownetworth.com.

Meghan Markle had one foot in fashion

Meghan Markle 2016

Although acting was definitely a main source of Meghan Markle’s income throughout most of her adult life, fashion was also her bread and butter. In 2016, Meghan became a guest designer for Reitmans, Canada’s largest women’s apparel retailer. Some 18 months later, Women’s Wear Daily reported that the Meghan Markle collection was sold out online and in select stores.

But how did Meghan end up working in fashion? Monique Brosseau, vice president of marketing and visual presentation for Reitmans, explained, saying, "The initial idea of developing a collection came from her. It was an amazing idea so our designers, who are all based in Montreal, worked closely with her." Meghan’s ideas were then turned into a "work-to-weekend" capsule wardrobe.

"I’m super involved with the design process, and I’m sure that it drives them crazy. But how could I not? It has my name on it," Meghan is quoted as saying in her biography, Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. According to knownetworth.com, Meghan reportedly received about $80,000 in sponsorships and endorsements. As a brand ambassador, her income from Reitmans may have made up part of this figure.

Meghan Markle, the social media influencer

Meghan Markle Sunglasses

Before Meghan Markle deleted her personal social media accounts, she was somewhat of a social media influencer. After reviewing the now-extinct content of Meghan’s Instagram account, Inc. reported that Meghan often promoted her friends’ brands. When Serena Williams was launching her fall fashion line, for example, Meghan created some hype with Instagram posts.

"Since [Meghan] confirmed that she and Prince Harry were dating last November, you can see that her posts have matured," Jill Mailander, a marketing strategist with Room 214, a Boulder, Colo.-based social media-consulting firm, told Inc. This involved only posting the things she truly enjoyed and being picky about what brands she chose to promote. Meghan also followed Instagram’s rules, making sure to use the proper hashtag — #ad or #sponsor — so her nearly 3 million followers knew they were seeing sponsored content.

If knownetworth.com‘s breakdown is correct, Meghan likely earned thousands from her Instagram endorsements and sponsorships alone.

Meghan Markle became a beneficiary of Princess Diana’s will

Meghan Markle and Harry's wedding

Meghan Markle had already reportedly become a multi-millionaire some time before becoming the Duchess of Sussex. And, as you could probably guess, her net worth didn’t exactly decrease upon entering into the royal family and, you know, marrying an actual prince.

When Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, died, her will included a provision not only for her sons William and Harry but for their future wives as well. MSN’s Buzz60 cited her will as stating that all of the late princess’ jewelry would be bequeathed to the boys "so that their wives may, in due course, have it or use it." This collection alone is undoubtedly incredibly valuable — although surely quite priceless to the sons and daughters-in-law of Diana. Additionally, Harry also gained access to a $13 million inheritance from his mother when he turned 25. According to British law, Burt Brill & Cardens Solicitors explained on its site, inheritances are "generally … treated as joint assets." So, as his wife, it’s likely Meghan also benefits from Harry’s inheritance.

Meghan Markle began earning a royal salary when she became a duchess

Queen Elizabeth and Meghan Markle

When Meghan Markle married Prince Harry and was given the title of duchess, she began performing official duties on the queen’s behalf. Through her marriage to Harry, Meghan was also entitled to receive an income through two revenue streams: the Sovereign Grant and the Duchy of Cornwall.

The couple’s site, SussexRoyal.com, explained that the grant "covers just five percent of costs for The Duke and Duchess and is specifically used for their official office expense." The other 95 percent of the couple’s income would thus stem from Harry’s father’s estate, the Duchy of Cornwall. As the site for Prince Charles’ estate explains, "the revenue from his estate is used to fund the public, private and charitable activities of The Duke and his children."

According to a financial report published by the Duchy, the estate experienced a "distributable surplus" to the tune of £21.7 million (nearly $28.4 million) between March 2017 and March 2018. The royal family doesn’t detail how these funds are divvied up, but, according to CNBC’s Make It, Prince Harry, and likewise Meghan, are "reported to receive £5 million [about $6.5 million] a year from the estate."

Meghan Markle’s fortune may grow even larger

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry

In January 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle issued a statement announcing their decision to "step back as ‘senior members’ of the royal family." Now, there are a great number of things Harry and Meghan can’t do once they step down from their positions, but one in particular is a huge deal, not to mention unprecedented.

Citing plans to become financially independent, Harry and Meghan’s site revealed the couple’s desire to cut themselves off from the Sovereign Grant. It’s not known if they will also give up their income from the Duchy of Cornwall, but, even if they do, they’ll be able to more than make up for any lost revenue.

According to data from influencer marketing platform Klear, as reported byCNBC’s Make It, Meghan and her hubby could earn over $110 million from Instagram sponsored posts. David Haigh, CEO of the brand valuation firm Brand Finance, also told the publication that the couple may pursue a movie or book deal, which could lead to them earning tens of millions of dollars. And, as the publication reported, Harry and Meghan have already trademarked "Sussex Royal," which could point to future capitalization on their brand.