Harry and Meghan's Archewell Foundation was 'delinquent.' Newsom calls the pile-on 'unfair'

Prince Harry in a suit and Meghan in a white dress hold hands as they walk through a crowd
Harry and Meghan's Archewell Foundation was not allowed to operate or solicit donations in California while it was listed as delinquent. (Evan Agostini / Invision / Associated Press)
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Prince Harry and Meghan's Archewell Foundation, which had been called into question over a registration lapse, is no longer listed as "delinquent" in California. And, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom, the royal couple faced "a very typical technical issue around paperwork" and an "unfair" pile-on because of it.

"After being in touch with our Registry of Charities and Fundraisers, the organization is current and in good standing," the California attorney general's press office confirmed Tuesday in a statement to The Times. Identified as a foreign corporation on its registration document, the organization now is listed as "current" on the state's Department of Justice website.

During its "delinquency" period, the Beverly Hills-based organization was not allowed to raise money and was listed among those that "may not operate" in the state, according to state records. A delinquency notice was sent. Records showed that the foundation's last renewal had been in May 2023.

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A spokesperson for the Archewell Foundation on Wednesday told The Times that the foundation "diligently investigated the situation" and confirmed that it was "fully compliant and in good standing."

"Due payments were made promptly and in accordance with the IRS’s processes and procedures. Furthermore, all necessary paperwork had been filed by the Foundation without error or wrongdoing," the statement said.

"When a charitable organization fails to submit complete filings for each fiscal year, its status on the Attorney General's Registry of Charities and Fundraisers will be listed as Delinquent," according to the attorney general's website. "If the delinquency is not remedied, the Registry status will be further changed to Suspended, and/or Revoked. A charitable organization that is not in good standing with the Registry of Charities and Fundraisers may not operate or solicit donations in California."

The office also says that if a charitable organization receives a delinquency letter, it is because it has not filed one or more of the required annual reports with the registry.

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According to NBC News, a person close to Archewell said that the group’s initial check was lost in the mail but that the payment had been resubmitted and the issue was expected to be resolved within days. A source also told USA Today something similar — that the organization had paid its registration fees with a physical check that was never received. The person said that a new check was re-sent and that the state tax filing, renewal and required payment were sent and delivered to the California attorney general's office, which received them on time via tracked mail.

On Tuesday, the governor came to the couple's defense, calling out the "unbelievable amount of attention" placed on the Sussexes' charity during a news conference at a treatment center in San Mateo County.

“I’m here at a behavioral health site, a mental health site. Archewell Foundation, run by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, do extraordinary work, particularly [for] women and girls, but notably around mental health," Newsom said. "And I just want folks to know, not only are they in compliance, it [was] a technical paperwork issue that was wildly over-hyped. And with respect, I hope people that ran those headlines run this headline: that it was a very typical technical issue around paperwork that persists for so many others as well."

Newsom praised the Archewell Foundation as "a celebrated organization that does great work in the state of California."

"I want to clarify that because that’s important, and I just thought there was a little bit of piling on that was deeply unfair to that charity," he added.

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Harry and Meghan, who stepped back as working royals in 2020 and later moved to California, were recently in Nigeria to promote mental health for soldiers and empower young people. Harry also was in London last week to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games, a tournament for wounded veterans that the British prince founded in 2014. However, no senior member of the royal family attended a Wednesday service to support the cause.

King Charles III's busy schedule was cited as the reason that he and Prince Harry, fourth in line to the British throne, didn't connect. His younger son’s visit comes on the heels of the 75-year-old monarch's cancer diagnosis and after the fallout from Harry's scathing 2023 memoir, “Spare.”

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have kept busy with other endeavors since moving across the pond, launching the Archewell Foundation and Archewell Productions; making a lucrative deal with Netflix; and launching Meghan's short-lived "Archetypes" podcast on Spotify. The "Suits" alum's latest venture, American Riviera Orchard, appears to be a lifestyle brand that has released a jam.

The oft-criticized couple launched the Archewell Foundation website in October 2020, but it had no financial activity in 2020 and its first bank account was opened in January 2021, the Independent reported. The organization received $11 million from benefactors in 2021, according to its 2021 filing, and gave out $3 million in grants. However, in 2022, it received only $2 million in charitable donations. The foundation reportedly received $1.2 million in donations last year.

According to a December BBC report, the Sussexes get no income from the charity and are listed as directors working an average of one hour per week. However, the foundation has an annual salary bill of more than $640,000.

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The foundation, named after the couple's 5-year-old son, Archie, bills itself as a nonprofit organization with a mission to "show up, do good."

"We meet the moment by showing up, taking action and using our unparalleled spotlight to uplift and unite communities — local and global — through acts of service and compassion," the foundation's statement says. "We believe that philanthropy is not a handout; it’s a hand held. At The Archewell Foundation, we roll up our sleeves and do just that."

The foundation has partnered with chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen, as well as Halo Trust, the mine-clearing charity supported by Harry's mother, Princess Diana. The Archewell Foundation also has backed projects dealing with gender justice, civil rights and misinformation. During the couple's trip to Nigeria, the Sussexes announced that their foundation was expanding its partnership with the GEANCO Foundation, which facilitates medical care to rural areas in the African nation.

Times staff writer Anabel Sosa contributed to this report.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.