Sep 29, 2021

Royal Family’s Crisis Lessons For All Family Businesses - Harry and Meghan Leaving The Royal “Firm"

Just Like Sampoerna, Bakrie Group, L'oreal, and Ford Motor Company, the British Monarchy is a family business that can be hit by a crisis at any time and without warning.

Some crises stay behind closed doors and never become known to the public, but some of them have found ways to get to the ears of the public. One of the British Royal Family’s latest drama is Harry and Meghan's interview with Oprah which made international headlines.

Keep in mind that almost all companies started out as family companies. Martha Sullivan, family business advisor and president of Provenance stated that only 12% of family businesses survive into the third generation and less than 3% make it to the fourth generation.

She said the British royal family "is an extreme 'family business,' under a 1,200-year-old monarchy."

Is the British Monarchy a family business? What can a family business practitioner learn from the British Monarchy crisis? Learn more below!

Royal Firm

The firm? That is what the royal family calls their family business as mentioned in an interview some time ago with Oprah Winfrey.

As a family business, the British Royal Family owne and manag land and castles, some of which they leased, used to support various charitable ventures, played a broad public role in the UK by utilizing various publicity channels to support its image and brand, and employed a number of valued employees because of his loyalty and commitment.

A large and complex business. The "product" of this family business was the source of wealth and income for the British Monarchy.

Oprah's Interview

Oprah Winfrey reveals the royal drama of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in an interview. This interview is a rare occurrence because the royal family rarely agrees to do a public interview. In that interview, Harry and Meghan Markle explain their personal decision to go out of business.

Of course, this interview became a crisis for the British empire, even Queen Elizabeth II was silent for two weeks before finally giving a public statement.

Harry and Meghan's dilemma in the interview illustrates how difficult it is to be part of a public family, and at the point where personal family problems must be exposed openly.

Being part of the family business usually means leaving some individual freedom to be part of something greater than anything you could not do on your own.

Family businesses often demand family members in relation to their public roles. When married in a family business, you are expected to respect existing traditions.

Family Business Stakeholder

A family business consists three groups of  “stakeholders”. Within the royal family, these groups have competing values ​​and interests that are not reconciled.

The older generation, or “owners”, want to preserve the traditions and heritage of those who have had success in the past. They delegate the task of doing business, and some authority, to employees.

The employees are not family members, working under the supervision of the "owner" of the family.

And finally, there are members of the younger generation, who have different life experiences, different values, and in Meghan's case, different national and racial cultures. They bring fresh and new perspectives to the other two groups, and that is the future.

Each of these groups has its own role and place, but for family businesses to be resilient they must respect each other, and actively listen to and resolve their differences.

A family business is only successful if there is constant respect and engagement across generations. The future of the company lies in the new generation, and they face a world different from their parents. They have to listen to each other.

What should family companies do to avoid a British royalty-like crisis?

1. Set Boundaries

It is very important to adapt the role to certain situations. The uniqueness of a family company is that one person has various roles (owner, parent, child, spouse, boss, employee, sibling, etc.). Without this clarity, relationships and the health of companies and families are threatened.

A "family business" must prioritize the goodness of the company over personal or family matters.

2. Get to know your framework

Family business sets priorities differently. This framework will create a culture that affects ownership, management and family. If done properly and in a balanced manner, this framework will provide long-term success.

3. Develop Ground Rules

Establish solid ground rules for managing corporate and family health. Set and reset expectations regularly. Manage and make decisions accordingly.

Answer These 4 Questions

The quality of communication and shared understanding has a direct impact on the health and success of family-owned and family-owned companies.

Answering the following questions can help improve that communication and understanding.

  • What are the Company's values?
  • What is the mission and role as a family, company and community member? Why?
  • How will you communicate with each other within the family, from family to company and within the company?
  • How are we going to resolve our differences?


Learning from the cases and interviews of Harry and Meghan who decided to leave the royal “firm”, business owners must at least emphasize the boundaries of roles in each situation, create a framework that will create a corporate culture, and create some basic rules for managing and ensuring the sustainability of a family company.

For perfect integration of business operational data, inventory, sales, and business accounting and financial records, you can also use easy-to-use ERP software according to your business needs such as SAP B1.

Using this ERP software, your business can easily document all supply chain activities, identify & analyze risky processes, and reduce risks.

Come join the Indonesian family business community to gain insight and have deeper discussions with practitioners here!

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