The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Did Meghan and Harry scoop a $1m Miami payday from JP Morgan?

- By Caroline Graham IN LOS ANGELES and Katie Hind IN LONDON

THE Duke and Duchess of Sussex may have pocketed $1 million for their first post-Megxit appearance – but experts say they could be damaging the credibilit­y of their ‘brand’.

The couple broke their selfimpose­d exile in Canada to attend JP Morgan’s ‘Alternativ­e Investment Summit’ in Miami on Thursday, but experts warned their bid to become financiall­y independen­t could tarnish their image.

PR guru Mark Borkowski told The Mail on Sunday: ‘This shows how difficult it is going to be. They’ve got to make a lot of money and they are going to slip up on the way.

‘The worry is how many of these type of gigs are there going to be? How often can Harry play the card about his mental health?

‘For JP Morgan, it’s an extraordin­ary “get”. They clearly have the money to afford them, but Harry and Meghan need to avoid being perceived as tacky.’

Prince Harry was also facing a backlash on social media, including from critics who accused him of cashing in on his mother’s memory.

One Twitter user said: ‘I’m literally disgusted that Harry is now dragging up Diana’s death to earn money. I really didn’t think he would stoop that low. This is disgusting on a whole different level. Shameful. Their titles must be stripped completely.’

The couple flew to Florida from their rented home in Vancouver on Wednesday on board JP Morgan’s Gulfstream jet.

They reportedly spent the night at the £12 million Palm Beach home of Meghan’s close friend, tennis champion Serena Williams.

The following day they joined 425 guests at the summit in a sprawling tent in the grounds of the five-star 1 Hotel in Miami’s South Beach. A 6ft wall was erected to shield the tent from the view of tourists strolling along the beach’s famous boardwalk.

Guests included former Prime Minister Tony Blair, singer Jennifer Lopez and her boyfriend Alex Rodriguez, basketball legend Magic Johnson and billionair­e NFL team owner Robert Kraft. Architect Norman Foster and Russian heiress Dasha Zhukova were also reportedly present alongside ‘dozens’ of CEOs and hedge fund tycoons.

A source said: ‘Harry and Meghan were mixing with the elite of the elite. Clearly they are chasing the big bucks, but the danger in any situation like this is that very often people with big bucks have shady pasts.

‘They need to be extremely careful who they associate with. Public opinion is a fickle thing and people will turn against them if they are perceived to be putting their own financial gain above all else.’

PR executive Ronn Torossian, from 5W Public Relations, said he expected the couple to have made between £387,000 and £775,000 for appearing at the event.

‘I would not be shocked if they earned up to $1million. Harry and Meghan will be the highest-paid speakers that exist on the corporate market,’ he said.

Meghan was introduced to the stage by US TV presenter Gayle King, a close friend of the couple and widely tipped to get the first post-Megxit TV interview.

The Duchess spoke briefly about her ‘love for her husband’ and then introduced Harry who was interviewe­d by King.

A source told the New York Post: ‘Harry spoke about mental health and how he has been in therapy for the past few years to try to overcome the trauma of losing his mother. He talked about how the events of his childhood affected him and that he’s been talking to a mental health profession­al.

‘He said he started seeing a therapist at 28 as he struggled with the trauma caused by his mother’s death. He said he felt trapped as a Royal although he said his relationsh­ip

‘How often can he play the mental health card?’

with the Queen was still OK. Harry also touched on Megxit, saying while it has been very difficult for him and Meghan, he does not regret their decision to step down as senior Royals because he wants to protect his family.’

After Harry’s speech the couple dined in the tent with hand-picked guests. A guest at the hotel said: ‘We were having dinner and we could tell there was something going on.

‘There was a lot of security around and people seemed to know

‘Harry said they didn’t regret their decision’

they were in the building. Employees were made to sign non-disclosure agreements and an email was circulated to everyone reminding all staff of the hotel’s confidenti­ality policy.’

People leaving the event were reluctant to talk.

One lively group confirmed they were at the speech, but when asked about it, they replied: ‘Sorry, we really can’t.’

Miami lawyer Ramsay Simon tweeted from the hotel: ‘Seems there’s a famous someone here tonight. A couple who are (presumably) former members, recently detached, of a UK family whose role should be abolished and is a few hundred years past its excuse for even being.’

Local journalist Lesley Abravanel said: ‘We’re no stranger to presidents, mobsters, dictators, rock stars and movie stars down here. We see it all. But in my two decades of covering celebrity activity in Florida, I’ve never seen a tighter-lipped situation than this one.’

Faced with criticism, the couple received a welcome boost from Sir Elton John’s husband David Furnish, another close friend, who said he believes they can achieve ‘great philanthro­pic work’. Furnish became embroiled in the controvers­y over Meghan and Harry’s use of private jets when it was revealed they flew in one for a holiday at Sir Elton’s home in the south of France last summer. Sir Elton later said he had paid to offset the carbon emissions.

Furnish said: ‘I know how passionate­ly they want to give back and they really feel that they have a platform and an awareness and an opportunit­y to really do great, great philanthro­pic work.’

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 ??  ?? SHARING: Harry, pictured at a charity event in London last month, spoke of his battle with mental health at the summit in Miami on Thursday
SHARING: Harry, pictured at a charity event in London last month, spoke of his battle with mental health at the summit in Miami on Thursday

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