As first reported by Emily Andrews a few weeks ago, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are indeed splitting away from the Royal Foundation. Per the official announcement, later this year, the Royal Foundation will be led by only the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, while the Sussexes will begin their own charitable foundation. The language also makes clear that the two couples will still partner on specific projects, including the successful mental health campaign, Heads Together.
The most interesting quote is, “These changes are designed to best complement the work and responsibilities of Their Royal Highnesses as they prepare for their future roles, and to better align their charitable activity with their new households.”
That speaks to a lot of what’s been speculated – Harry and Meghan want the freedom to pursue a less linear path, while William and Kate have very specific responsibilities to which they’re working towards.
It also alludes to something we’ve discussed here a few times, which is that both the household split and the severing of professional ties will make a lot more sense once their father ascends the throne and William steps into the role of Prince of Wales.
I think the speed and timing of this absolutely has to do with tension between the brothers, and professional differences between the two couples, but it’s worth bearing in mind there’s a certain inevitability to this.
And as is being underscored in the reporting today (and as I discussed a bit in my May 31st post on the first wave of news coverage), this wasn’t anticipated as of when Harry and Meghan were engaged. In February 2018, the four hosted a Royal Foundation forum then described as an “inaugural” event. Plans – and relationships, apparently – changed, and while I still think this is disappointing in a few ways (so much potential!), it beats the alternative.
That alternative, of course, is the continuation of friction and unhappiness that gets picked up on by the public, and reported on ad nauseam. While a little royal gossip is fun now and again, full-blown dysfunction is another matter altogether, and the relative clear-headedness and near-normalcy of this generation of the BRF is one of their strongest assets, so I hope that’s preserved.
I would also caution against the assumption that Harry and Meghan are about to go crazy with political or otherwise problematic initiatives. They might, but as of right now, there’s absolutely nothing concrete to go on, and my guess is that they’re working with their staff, and in communication with courtiers, about what exactly their future role looks like. As Harry is already aware, while right now he and his brother seem roughly peer-like in the royal matrix, Harry’s role will change markedly over time. In less than a decade he has gone from being third-in-line to the throne to being sixth. And as Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte grow, more eyes will focus on them and their parents for the future of the monarchy itself.
That doesn’t mean Harry and Meghan don’t play an important role within the broader institution of the monarchy, or that they are looking to break free entirely, but it does mean they are likely taking a long view about what makes sense. A balance, if you will, between leveraging today’s star power and the reality of time.
More to come, of course. I think this autumn will prove a very interesting time for the BRF, and I welcome any thoughts any of you have on this change.