Meghan Markle

Toby Melville - WPA Pool/Getty Images

"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."

That's Samantha Markle, half-sister to Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, and apparently self-imposed family spokesperson, defending the family's many instances of profiting from their estranged family member's fairy tale since the former Suits star exchanged "I do"s with Prince Harry this past May during an interview with ITV's Good Morning Britain in July.

And make no mistake, the family has been cashing in, further widening the chasm that stands between them and Meghan at each and every turn, as Samantha, father Thomas Markle, and nephew Tyler Dooley seem incapable of—or perhaps, more likely, unwilling to—not adding fuel to the media frenzy fire that they've, by and large, created. And in doing so with relentless commitment, they've turned embarrassing Meghan into quite the lucrative family business.

Samantha Markle, Kensington Palace

Splash News

The world first became aware that Meghan's family probably wouldn't be falling in line with royal protocol back in April 2017, months before Meghan and Harry were even engaged, when Samantha—then still going by Samantha Grant, clearly before realizing that using the same surname as her estranged sibling might be good for business—announced in an exclusive interview with the UK's Daily Star that she was planning a tell-all book with the working title, The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister.

"Maybe when Meghan is more mature and reads the book she'll understand," Samantha, a self-described former model and actress (with a lone 1993 Matlock guest appearance on IMDb to back up her claims) who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2008, told the outlet at the time. "Some of it she won't like, some of it she might."

Immediately, Samantha's mother Roslyn, whom she hasn't spoken to in years either, accused of daughter of trying to cash in on Meghan's elevating fame. "Samantha has been dogging her for years," she said of her daughter's behavior towards the future Duchess. "Everything she has said about her is a lie."

Since then, Samantha has maintained a regular presence on British news circuit, routinely turning in baffling appearances where she consistently contradicts the way in which she speaks about Meghan on social media, explaining away her many slams as signs of her "quick wit" and the result of having "worked in broadcasting and radio for a while, and I have always been a bit boisterous," as she told Channel 5's Jeremy Vine just last week. 

Despite her assurances that all these appearances are to help bring Meghan and their father back together in light of their own estrangement, her antics have surely worked against her. She's crafted stories to tease the media, including one about a possible appearance in Celebrity Big Brother. She's shown up outside of Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace for photo opportunities. She's retained the services of a publicist, who's taken to issuing threats on behalf of his client on social media. She participated in the TLC documentary When Harry Met Meghan: A Royal Engagement. She's still writing the damn book, now entitled In the Shadows of the Duchess. And she says things like this: 

"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 in July, despite there being little evidence to support her supposed resume. "For someone to say, 'Oh you shouldn't take any money. You should turn down a paycheck,' well, go tell your boss you don't want a paycheck for interviewing me because that's cashing in."

Thomas Markle

YouTube

Of course, despite her de facto position as CEO of this crass family operation, Samantha is not the only Markle to have begun cashing in. In the days leading up to Meghan's wedding, she was dealt a major blow when it was revealed that paparazzi photos involving her father Thomas catching him in seemingly charming and candid moments—visiting an internet cafe to look at photos of Meghan and Prince Harry, reading Images of Britain: A Pictorial Journey Through History, getting fitted for a tuxedo—had, in fact, been a business arrangement—albeit one that Samantha took the blame for.

"As we know the media can take very unflattering photographs of people on their casual days and blow it way out of proportion. I said, 'You know, the world has no idea you're getting in shape, doing healthy things. They don't photograph you buying vegetables and PH water. They photograph you as unflattering ways as they can,'" she explained during an appearance on the ITV talk show Loose Women in May. "I said, 'Really, you need to show the world that you're getting in shape and doing great healthy things.' So, I suggested it." 

She later insisted that Thomas hadn't earned "very much" money from the photos, adding, "He was turning down $50,000 interviews—so clearly, money was not the goal. And the small amount of money that he received—1,500 Pounds—the photographers made the money, not my father."

Despite being told by Harry to not speak to the press, Thomas continued to do just that, booking an exclusive sit-down with Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain—one that netted the former television lighting director $10,000, as Morgan made clear during the chat in attempt to defend his guest by explaining he could've earned more elsewhere and just "wanted to have his say." He continued to have his say when, days later, he turned in a somewhat less contrite appearance on TMZ of all places.

The Royal World, Tyler Dooley

MTV

The latest Markle to join the family business has been Meghan's nephew Tyler Dooley, son of her half-brother Thomas Markle Jr., a sibling who's also granted his fair share of scorched earth interviews, albeit with not quite the frequency of Samantha. If Dooley's name sounds familiar, that's probably because you remember from his cameo appearance in this circus when, earlier this year, the Oregon-based relative capitalized on his tangential connection to the Duchess and became the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary called Royally Grown (get it?) that featured a strain named after his aunt in honor of her big day. Called Meghan Sparkle, the blend was said to be as "unique and individual" as its namesake and so strong "it will blow anyone's crown off."

Seeking to further his fifteen minutes, the 25-year-old Dooley has joined the cast of The Royal World, an upcoming MTV International reality show that "invited a group of royals and aristocrats to live together in the English countryside and filmed their every move in an attempt to find out what it is really like to be young and royal," per the press release. 

In the trailer for the series, set to debut on MTV's international channels in 180 territories outside the US on November 7, Dooley enters the room saying, "Oh, hey guys. I'm just looking for my great aunt Liz." We're sure the Queen will love being referred to as such. (There is no set date for the show to premiere in the US.)

"Dooley considers Meghan to have been more like a sister to him growing up, and is set to make a royal impact as he sets the record surrounding his family straight," the accompanying press release read, with his bio promising he'll be entering The Royal World mansion "with a point to prove." Oh brother.

Look, we live in a capitalist society, there's no denying that. And as such, when there's something that generates as much interest in the general public as the royal family has for all these years, there will always be offers of money—great sums or not—to, in essence, sell them out.

And as the Markles have demonstrated time and time again, they'll always be there to answer the call.

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