Meghan Markle has prompted fury from the palace by enlisting Oprah Winfrey to help flog a vegan coffee she has invested in.
Palace insiders revealed there were “more than a few raised eyebrows” today after it emerged Meghan has ploughed money into the firm Clevr Blends – a startup that makes instant oat-milk lattes – as she reportedly “begins to build a portfolio of startup investments”.
In January, when former actress Meghan and her husband Prince Harry sensationally quit their royal roles in a bid to “become financially independent” they promised to “continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty”.
Today Oprah, one of the world’s richest women, uploaded a video on her personal Instagram page boasting to her 19.2million followers how she’d received a gift from “my neighbour M”.
The clue was followed by a crown emoji – a nod to her pal’s royal connections.
A royal source said: “It is hard to see how emojis apparently trading on royal connections is respecting the values of the royal family.”
Meghan and Harry have recently moved down the road from the billionaire chat show Queen after purchasing an £11million mansion in a gated community in exclusive Montecito, California.
Oprah’s post read: “On the first day of Christmas my neighbor “M” sent to me…a basket of deliciousness! (Yes that M) My new drink of choice for the morning and night. Wish I had @clevrblends sooner cause I would’ve added it to my Favorite Things list. #HappyHolidays
It emerged today that “Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex makes her debut as a startup investor.”
Advertising rules in the United States differ from those in the UK, where posts from celebrities advertising products for money are usually followed by the captions #AD or #Spon to denote an advert or sponsored post.
It is not implied that Ms Winfrey – one of the world’s most powerful people in business – broke any rules, nor it is believed she was paid for the post.
However, palace sources said the post was not being viewed favourably and the use of the crown emoji had been noted.
A royal source said: “When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their decision to step back as senior royals in order to become financially independent it was always going to be a balancing act.
“But what is clear are the promises made at the time to uphold the values of Her Majesty and the Crown, that neither party should be trading on their royal connections to benefit financially or risk bringing the Crown into disrepute.
“All issues such as this are expected to be abided by.”
A spokesperson for Oprah Winfrey did not respond to a request for comment.
News of Meghan’s investment broke today on the US website Fortune.
In October the Duchess appeared on the platform’s ‘Most Powerful Women Next Gen Virtual Summit’ where guests were charged an eye watering £1,300.
The business plans to use the investment to scale its business, which currently sells four different kinds of instant lattes retailing for £21 packet, including a milk frother and travel mug.
The brand also donated 1% of revenue to food poverty charities in the US.
In a statement announcing her investment in the brand, led by co founder and CEO Hannah Mendoza, Meghan revealed her desire to support female-founded companies.
She said: “This investment is in support of a passionate female entrepreneur who prioritizes building community alongside her business.
“I’m proud to invest in Hannah’s commitment to sourcing ethical ingredients and creating a product that I personally love and has a holistic approach to wellness. I believe in her and I believe in her company.”
A Buckingham Palace statement released in January just days after they dropped their bombshell announcement they were quitting their royal roles.
It read: “With The Queen’s blessing, the Sussexes will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations. While they can no longer formally represent The Queen, the Sussexes have made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty.”
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: The Duchess of Sussex is not a working member of the royal family.”
A spokesperson for Meghan was unavailable.