It seems from the first moment Meghan Markle came on our radar, so did all the Markle cast of characters who formed her extended family. Father Thomas Markle, half-sister Samantha Grant, half-brother Thomas Markle Jr., and even Meghan's ex-husband Trevor Engelson made the media rounds in one horrifying publicity stunt after another.
All the while, the now Duchess of Sussex was her usual composed and gracious self, at least in public. With royal protocol keeping Meghan from commenting or lashing out as her family dished intel from private conversations, the world couldn't help but be transfixed by the melodrama. Even Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall admitted she and the rest of the royals were on pins and needles ahead of the wedding.
The transparent and fake public pleas for Meghan's attention and respect, followed by sharp rebuking and straight-up name calling, had the tabloids salivating, and British morning shows were booking the Markle family circus act at a dizzying rate. And no one was a savvier star than Grant.
Why would Grant subject herself to so much ridicule and criticism? Probably the money, of course.
Grant admitted to profiting from her year-long media blitz trashing her half-sister during a July appearance on Good Morning Britain. “I worked in media most of my life and in broadcasting, so because my sister is suddenly royal isn’t grounds for me to stop doing all of that,” she said. “Let’s face it — we all have to survive. Money makes the world go round, so if you want to call that cashing in, that’s fine, but I think no one in media would refuse a paycheck for talking about the royals and, as a family, we’re not subject to royal protocol. Why would I stop living because we have a family issue going on?” Representation for Grant did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
So, how much has she made exactly?
In addition to an upcoming tell-all titled The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister, Grant revealed in a May interview with the Em, Grant and Ed radio show that she was paid $1,500 per interview.
“Just to give people a snapshot of how it really was — if I do one interview and they pay me $1,500, 10,000 publications will copy that and write their own story, that’s how it works.”
Host Em Rusciano called Grant out on profiting by selling photos and memories of a young Meghan, asking what, exactly, gives her the right to make money off her sister.
“It’s not off her … it’s off my personal photos that I was in, so if they're my memories, my life experiences, my photos, I certainly have more right to make money off them than any journalists or tabloid photographer,” Grant retorted.
But that was then, and this is now. With Grant continuing to make headlines, no doubt her price per interview has gone up, perhaps matching father Thomas Markle's payout, which The Evening Standard reported was roughly $9,000 for an interview on Good Morning Britain. (Meghan's father reportedly made $135,000 from those staged paparazzi photos ahead of the Royal Wedding, per the Daily Mail.)
During a viewing party of the Royal Wedding, Grant's partner, Mark Phillips, told Daily Mail reporters stationed outside her Florida home that the elder Markle sister was recording a paid-for appearance. "You can't go in there," he reportedly said. "She is making big money with an exclusive TV interview."
With fluctuating and no-doubt increasing payouts, Grant has probably made more than $100,000 in the year and a half since Meghan's relationship with Prince Harry first made news. That figure could potentially be even higher as Grant's clout has grown and even surpassed her father in the months since the wedding.
As the public's infatuation and growing love affair with the Duchess of Sussex continues to drive clicks and eyeballs to the screen, so is the tabloid fodder that the continuing family scandal makes. And as long as Grant can find new ways of capitalizing on her sister's fairytale love story, she will.
* An earlier version of this story misidentified Thomas Markle's photos as staged by TMZ.