Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were branded “lazy” and “f–king grifters” by Spotify employees Friday after the podcasting network canned their $20 million deal.
Bill Simmons, the sportscaster who is also head of Spotify’s international sports content, said on his own podcast, “’The f–king grifters.’ That’s the podcast we shoulda launched with them.”
His attack deepened the couple’s crisis as sources said they were “lazy” compared to the Obamas, who also had a Spotify contract.
The collapse of the deal piles financial pressure on the Sussexes as exorbitant bills for their Montecito, Calif. lifestyle mount.
Their sprawling Tuscan-style estate, bought for $14.7 million in June 2020, has a hefty mortgage. Annual property taxes alone cost $144,427 and there is staffing and maintenance on top.
The bill for the couple’s private security detail is believed to be about $2 million a year, there are legal fees from Harry’s unending battles with the British press — and they have to keep their Archewell company afloat without Spotify’s cash.
“They’re not broke,” stressed a source. “But they’re going to have to keep spending their money, instead of banking it.”
The Sussexes’ Spotify deal was signed in 2020 but delivered just 13 hours of programming in two and half years — 12 episodes of Markle’s “Archetypes” podcast, and a one-off holiday special.
They will not be paid anything close to the full amount they could have earned under the deal.
Sources pointedly contrasted the Sussexes’ failed deal with the Obamas’ similar deal, which ended last year.
“Although ‘Archetypes’ did well and got a couple of awards, when you go into a deal like this, to have just one series over that course of time is not great,” a source close to the Sussexes’ deal said.
“To put that into context, the Obamas and their production company, Higher Ground, delivered multiple new series.”
Simmons told how he had been called in to help Harry — unsuccessfully — saying, “I gotta get drunk one night and tell the story of this Zoom I had with Harry to try to help him with a podcast idea. It’s one of my best stories.”
He added, “I wish I had been involved in the ‘Meghan and Harry leave Spotify’ negotiation. That’s a podcast we should’ve launched with them.”
Another industry insider added, “Spotify wants to focus on people who drive strong audiences, like Alex Cooper, Dax Shepard and Emma Chamberlain. There are a lot of great creators who are very eager.
“Meghan and Harry are the outlier on all of this, I think they have come off as being lazy and difficult.”
In a statement, both Spotify and Archewell said they “mutually agreed to part ways and are proud of the series we made together.”
Losing Spotify is a dramatic change in fortunes for the pair since they quit being full-time royals, pleaded for privacy and launched their new American lives with an explosive Oprah Winfrey interview trashing Harry’s family in 2021.
But since signing deals with Netflix and Spotify, the couple’s popularity appears to have plunged and they have been plagued by staff turnover.
Last month, the two were mocked for claiming they were pursued at “high speed” for hours by “highly aggressive” paparazzi in a “near catastrophic car chase” through the streets of New York, at one point swapping their SUV for a cab — whose driver contradicted the account, leading to more public derision.
The now appear entirely estranged from the royal family. Saturday will mark the first Trooping the Colour celebration since Queen Elizabeth’s death and the first of King Charles’ reign — but, as a non-working royal, Prince Harry is not invited to the military ceremony.
The Sussexes signed an estimated $100 million, five-year deal with Netflix back in September 2020 and hired former Disney+ exec Chanel Pysnik the next year.
She served as an executive producer on their Netflix docu-series “Harry and Meghan,” which was a global hit.
But so far, the only other show the couple has coming out is “Heart of Invictus,” which was filmed while they were at the Invictus Games, for wounded service personnel, in The Hague last year.
Page Six has been told it’s still slated to stream in August, a month before Harry and Markle fly to Germany for this year’s Invictus Games. It is unclear if this time they will be accompanied by documentary crews.
A Netflix source said they remain “very valued” partners with the company, and the decision is “business as usual.”
Comparatively, the Obamas’ Netflix deal has landed the streaming service an Oscar — for the former first couple’s first-ever piece of content, “American Factory” — and delivered a stream of documentaries, children’s shows and movies.
This year’s planned releases from the Obamas include a movie starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali and Ethan Hawke.
Despite the collapse of the Spotify deal, Markle — who sees herself as an entrepreneur — is making plans to launch her own business, akin to Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop.
She also would love to be the face of a luxury brand, something like Cartier, according to friends.
“Meghan is super quiet at the moment,” said someone who knows her. “And she always does that just before she makes a big announcement.”
As for cash, the Sussexes are still working with Hollywood money man Adam Lilling and Markle’s longtime business manager Andrew Meyer. Their relationship dates back to when she starred in the TV show “Suits.”
Harry is also earning from online therapy start-up Better Up, where he has the title of Chief Impact Officer. He’s not paid as an employee, Page Six is told, but is on a larger deal.
The Sussexes have, however, turned down work, including being guest speakers to a group of CEOs at a closed-door “summit” in California.
Insiders suggest that Markle’s new super-agent, Ari Emanuel, the CEO of William Morris Endeavor, may be the person to right the ship after a rocky start to their Hollywood ambitions.
“Harry and Meghan have also had a lot of turnover on that team over the years,” said the industry insider: “Now, Meghan has obviously hired Ari Emmanuel at WME, so let’s see what he does.”
Royal historian and author Hugo Vickers said that their only upcoming Netflix show, on the Invictus Games, demonstrated where the couple had gone wrong. The prince founded the games long before meeting his wife.
“Harry was doing so well with the Invictus Games, its very motto is ‘I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul’, in other words — don’t be a victim,” he told Page Six.
“And Harry has done exactly the opposite, he has told all those wonderful brave soldiers to get a life and he turns himself into a miserable victim.”
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With regards to the Sussexes’ plans in America, Vickers added, “Anything they have to say, they’ve said it now.
“So they may have to be incredibly dramatic and reinvent themselves like Madonna does, or they are going to run out of steam and people are going to get bored with them.”
As for the future, PR guru Mark Borkowksi said, “All the noise has been subsiding and in this fast-moving celebrity agenda they need a new trick.
“This is an opportunity for Meghan to take stock. There are more lessons in failure than success.
“It’s important to note that failure is a natural part of life, and it does not define a person’s worth or potential. Time to employ a critical friend.”
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