After Buckingham Palace announced in March that the Sussexes and Cambridges would be separating their households, it was inevitable that the future of the Royal Foundation would follow a similar fate. On Thursday, June 20, Kensington Palace confirmed the joint charity would become two, with Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan preparing to launch their own philanthropic vehicle.
The news came after a formal review of the foundation’s structure surveyed whether it was possible for the two couples to continue working on projects despite such different paths ahead. Prince Harry and Prince William attended a board meeting together on Wednesday to discuss the outcome and finalize details. The result: William and Kate will take the reins of the Royal Foundation (which will be renamed the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will begin their own yet-to-be-titled charity.
Though the move is being called a split by the tabloids, a more appropriate term for the changes might be "new chapter." After all, the foundation was started in 2009 by William and Harry as two unmarried brothers in their 20s. Now, with differing futures ahead of them, it makes sense that Harry and Meghan have opportunities to work outside the parameters William and Kate face.
Palace aides have been keen to point out the “divergent paths” of each couple as the reason for the separation. This will become even more evident when Prince Charles becomes king and Prince William takes over his father’s roles as Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall. Those changes mean the Royal Foundation will face somewhat restrictive boundaries that Harry and Meghan will never have to worry about.
"This allows the Sussexes to do things exactly how they want" a palace source tells BAZAAR.com. "Their operating style is very different to the Cambridges and so having their own space to think as big as they like, working on a global scale, is perfect for them."
Over the months ahead, both Harry and Meghan (despite remaining on maternity leave through the fall), will work closely with their team and receive pro bono operational support from the Royal Foundation as they outline what their new organization will look like. As before, their charity model will still involve incubating new initiatives that are either one-off projects or bigger programs that will eventually become standalone charities.
"This is their chance to stamp their own personality on their charitable work," a second source tells BAZAAR. “Not only will their new foundation stand the test of time, but it will allow them to do some very ambitious things. Their charity will provide them with an opportunity to create something that will be their defining work-and it’s entirely theirs.”
That work has already “swung into action,” says another aide. Still, it’s early days, and the plans for “Project Sussex Foundation” are so beta, preliminary paperwork is only just being filed. However Harry and Meghan are aiming to be up and running before the end of the year. “The couple are very excited,” a Buckingham Palace source tells BAZAAR.
Funds previously raised for the Royal Foundation will remain within the organization, with any money designated to projects such as Meghan’s Hubb Community kitchen project (for which sales of the Together cookbook raised over $630,000) remaining with that project wherever it goes next. It’s likely that all initiatives belonging to the couple will move over to their own foundation, although there is talk for specific programs, such as Prince Harry’s military charity The Endeavor Fund (which already has its own board and finances), to potentially roll into his Invictus Games Foundation, or even be taken on by another charity. “There are multiple scenarios being discussed,” says a spokesperson for the couple. Prince Harry’s mental health documentary series with Oprah, due to be released on Apple TV+ in 2020, will also make up part of the portfolio of projects under the new charity’s umbrella.
Though changes to the Royal Foundation means there will be a small number of layoffs, new jobs will be created within the new Sussex charity. Like the Royal Foundation, which has had its own “American Friends” program since 2011, Harry and Meghan also plan to register their philanthropic vehicle in the U.S.
While their work as four patrons of the Royal Foundation may have come to an end (expect to see the Sussexes' names removed from charity literature early this fall), William, Kate, Harry, and Meghan will still work closely on Heads Together projects, which will remain at the Royal Foundation and includes their legacy project Shout, the U.K.’s first text-based crisis support service. "These are big issues that they universally care about," says a Royal Foundation source. "That won’t change." And Kensington Palace isn't ruling out a scenario where the Cambridges step forward to support Harry and Meghan on some of their own foundation’s initiatives.
As for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s plans, the pair want to build on the Royal Foundation’s past successes, continuing programs such as Heads Up, William’s mental health campaign delivered in partnership with the England Football Association; United for Wildlife, which runs a global task force tackling the illegal wildlife trade; and Mentally Healthy Schools, which supports teachers and staff improving childhood mental health. William is also currently developing new initiatives on the environment and Kate is involved on a new project supporting children and families which, says a spokesman, “the foundation expects to announce in the coming year.”
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