Charities and organisations across Britain were today waiting to hear whether Prince Harry and Meghan Markle can remain involved with them after it emerged the couple are set to lose all their remaining royal patronages.
The Queen is expected to ask the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to relinquish their links with any organisations passed down through the Royal Family, just over a year after they said they were stepping down as senior royals.
Her 36-year-old grandson would be stripped of his three remaining honorary military titles and, potentially, his patronages with the Rugby Football Union, Rugby Football League and the London Marathon.
The RFU told MailOnline today that it had ‘not received official correspondence relating to any changes’, while the WellChild charity, for which Harry is also patron, said: ‘We look forward to continuing to work with him.’
The London Marathon Charitable Trust, another of the Duke’s patronages, would only say today that Harry ‘is the patron’, while the Ministry of Defence directed queries to Buckingham Palace, which declined to comment.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend a reception at Buckingham Palace, London, to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force on July 10, 2018. Prince Harry is currently Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington, Bury St Edmunds
The Duke of Sussex high-fives a pupil during the annual WellChild Awards at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London on June 15, 2018. Harry is patron of the charity, which told MailOnline today: ‘We look forward to continuing to work with him.’
Other organisations he has patronages for which have not yet responded included Sentebale, the Rugby Football Union and the Invictus Games Foundation. The Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund declined to comment.
Meanwhile none of the organisations where Meghan is patron have yet responded, including the Mayhew animal welfare charity, Smart Works, The Association of Commonwealth Universities and the National Theatre.
Patronages the Sussexes hold – and what they have told MailOnline today
Harry’s honorary Forces titles:
- Capt General of Royal Marines – Comment request directed by Ministry of Defence to Buckingham Palace
- Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington, Bury St Edmunds – Comment request directed by MoD to Buckingham Palace
- Commodore-in-Chief, Small Ships and Diving, Royal Naval Command – Comment request directed by MoD to Buckingham Palace
Harry is also patron of:
- The Rugby Football League – ‘The Rugby Football League is very proud that the Duke of Sussex has been the sport’s Patron since 2016. The RFL has not received official correspondence relating to any changes at this time.’
- WellChild charity – ‘We are delighted to have the Duke of Sussex as our Patron. He has always been a great supporter of WellChild’s work and we look forward to continuing to work with him in the future.’
- The London Marathon Charitable Trust – ‘The Duke of Sussex is the Patron of The London Marathon Charitable Trust. We have no further comment on this.’
- Sentebale – Comment requested
- Rugby Football Union – Comment requested
- Invictus Games Foundation – Comment requested
- (Jointly with William) The Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund – No comment
Meghan is patron of:
- Mayhew animal welfare charity – Comment requested
- Smart Works – Comment requested
- The Association of Commonwealth Universities – Comment requested
- The National Theatre – Comment requested
- The couple are president and vice president of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust – Comment requested
The couple are also president and vice president of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, which has also not responded to a request for comment.
An RFU spokesman said today: ‘The Rugby Football League is very proud that the Duke of Sussex has been the sport’s Patron since 2016. The RFL has not received official correspondence relating to any changes at this time.’
And a WellChild spokesman added: ‘We are delighted to have the Duke of Sussex as our Patron. He has always been a great supporter of WellChild’s work and we look forward to continuing to work with him in the future.’
A representative for the London Marathon Charitable Trust said: ‘The Duke of Sussex is the Patron of The London Marathon Charitable Trust. We have no further comment on this.’
And the Ministry of Defence press officer said: ‘Given that these are Royal Patronages, your query is one for the Royal Communications team at Buckingham Palace.’
Meghan is expected to have to step down as patron of the National Theatre, unless she can negotiate another position with them.
When she was handed the role in 2019, it was seen as a major gesture of support and affection because the Queen had been patron of the London institution for 45 years.
One grey area is expected to be the couple’s links with the Commonwealth, but sources suggested that these are likely to go as well.
Sources have stressed that a 12-month review of their new status was not put into place last year with a renegotiation of terms in mind, but as a safety net in case they moved abroad ‘and didn’t get a dime in the bank’.
Harry and Meghan have since secured multi-million deals with companies including Spotify and Netflix, meaning that their futures are now assured.
But their decision to pursue commercial tie-ups has made their position as quasi-royals simply impossible, courtiers believe.
One source has said: ‘You can’t have one of the head of state’s representatives flogging cups of coffee, it’s as a simple as that.’
Just days ago friends of the prince signalled his determination to fight in particular for his military titles: Captain General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington in Bury St Edmunds, and Commodore-in-Chief, Small Ships and Diving, Royal Naval Command.
But it seems as if that battle, at least, has been lost.
The father of one will be allowed to keep anything that is a private patronage – and he still has several, such the Invictus Games and WellChild. Meghan holds two personal patronages, the Mayhew animal charity and Smart Works.
Harry hosts the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draws at Buckingham Palace in London on January 16, 2020. He is the patron of the Rugby Football League, which told MailOnline today: ‘The Rugby Football League is very proud that the Duke of Sussex has been the sport’s Patron since 2016. The RFL has not received official correspondence relating to any changes at this time’
The Duke of Sussex poses with the winners of the men’s and women’s London Marathon on April 28, 2019. He is patron of The London Marathon Charitable Trust, which told MailOnline today: ‘The Duke of Sussex is the Patron of The London Marathon Charitable Trust. We have no further comment on this’
It is not clear when an announcement on the patronages will be made but the Daily Mail understands that it could even be earlier than March 31, when the couple’s review period concludes.
What do we know about the Oprah interview?
- ‘Oprah With Meghan And Harry: A CBS Primetime Special’ will be a 90-minute show on CBS on March 7
- The interview is expected to be filmed this week and UK broadcast details have not yet been confirmed
TOPICS TO BE DISCUSSED
CBS says the first half of the chat will see Meghan speak with Oprah about:
- ‘Stepping into life as a Royal’
- Marriage and motherhood
- Philanthropic work
- ‘Life under intense public pressure’
The second half will then see Harry join Meghan as they speak about:
- Their move to the US
- ‘Their future hopes and dreams for their expanding family’
They are expected to discuss stepping down as senior royals but are unlikely to go into all the details that preceded this, to avoid upsetting the Queen.
Meanwhile it was confirmed last night that Harry and Meghan had agreed to a ‘wide-ranging’ interview with Oprah Winfrey. It is believed the programme could be recorded this week.
The two women are friends and near neighbours in California, with Oprah attending the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding in 2018 and plugging a range of vegan lattes that Meghan has helped finance.
One source described the interview as ‘one of the most inevitable and, sadly, predictable consequences’ of the ‘Megxit’ saga.
Harry will also feature in the 90-minute show. It will air next month on CBS and the couple will discuss their move to the United States.
It will be the first time the pair have spoken publicly about their bombshell decision to leave Britain and step down from their working roles in the Royal Family.
The interview is reportedly the result of a three-year bid by Oprah to win Meghan’s trust.
When she attended the wedding she had met the duchess only once, despite being described as a ‘friend of the couple’, The Times reported.
Before raising the subject of an interview, she worked with Harry on an Apple TV series and visited Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland in Los Angeles.
It follows news that the couple are expecting their second child. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they were ‘overjoyed’ at the pregnancy, revealed on Valentine’s Day.
The decision to take part in the interview risks angering – and embarrassing – the Royal Family. It could also widen the divisions between Harry and his brother, Prince William, and William’s wife, the Duchess of Cambridge.
In the interview, the couple will speak about their move last year and their ‘hopes and dreams for their expanding family’. The programme will air on March 7.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment about the interview, which will be aired six weeks before the Queen’s 95th birthday and in advance of celebrations for Prince Philip’s 100th.
Prince Harry and Meghan Meghan are set to lose all their remaining royal patronages, which are displayed above
Harry and Meghan are recording a TV special with Oprah Winfrey, pictured at their Windsor Castle wedding on May 19, 2018
While there was no angry reaction from the palace – it has taken great pains not to get into a public slanging match with the Sussexes – the coldness of the response was evident.
Royal TV interviews that shook the Palace
In late 2019 Prince Andrew gave a ‘no holds barred’ interview with the BBC ‘s Emily Maitlis about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, along with claims the royal had sex with one of the billionaire paedophile’s young ‘slaves’.
‘Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal’ was filmed at Buckingham Palace – a sign it had Her Majesty’s approval – and was the first time the duke was grilled on his friendship with the American sexual abuser, who was found dead in his New York prison cell while awaiting trial for sex-trafficking.
Andrew – the Queen’s second son – stepped down from public life on November 20 2019, following the fallout from his disastrous Newsnight interview about his friendship with convicted sex offender Epstein.
The duke was criticised for showing a lack of empathy towards the paedophile’s victims and a lack of remorse over his friendship with the pervert.
In the interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis, the duke denied claims that he slept with Virginia Giuffre, who says she was trafficked by Epstein, on three separate occasions, including when she was 17, still a minor under US law.
Decades earlier, in a sensational 1995 Panorama interview, Princess Diana said there were ‘three people in my marriage’, a reference to her estranged husband’s relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, now Duchess of Cornwall.
No one and nothing was off limits; Diana didn’t even spare her own reputation. In one gripping exchange with Mr Bashir, she admitted she had been unfaithful with Army officer James Hewitt.
‘Yes, I adored him,’ she said. ‘Yes, I was in love with him.’
For Prince Charles the examination was excoriating as his estranged, but not yet divorced, wife questioned his credentials to be king, while publicly placing Camilla Parker Bowles front and centre as the reason their marriage broke down.
The expected decision to strip the couple of their last remaining royal titles is not being done as a reaction to the interview.
It is being perceived that the televised chat was agreed because the couple could ‘see the direction of travel’ of future royal roles.
One source told the Mail that it was hoped that the interview with Oprah would provide the couple with the chance to ‘get whatever it is they want to say off their chests and move on’.
Another added: ‘The interview has clearly come about because there is an understanding [with Harry and Meghan] that all remaining formal links with organisations will cease to exist.’
The deal has echoes of Princess Diana’s 1995 Panorama interview with Martin Bashir, which she negotiated behind the backs of the Royal Family and caused widespread damage. Oprah interviewed Sarah, the Duchess of York, in 2010.
Harry and Meghan are likely to discuss why they dramatically stepped down as senior royals, but are not expected to reveal all the details that preceded their historic ‘Megxit’ split from the Royal Family which was announced in January 2020.
Sources close to the Sussexes told the London Evening Standard that the couple still had a good relationship with the Queen, the Duke’s grandmother.
A royal source said that as the couple were no longer working royals, any decisions taken with regard to ‘media commitments are matters for them’.
The source added that the Sussexes were ‘under no obligation’ to inform the Royal Household of the interview, which was announced by CBS in a press release.
The US network described ‘Oprah With Meghan And Harry: A CBS Primetime Special’ as an ‘intimate conversation’ including ‘a wide-ranging interview’ with Meghan.
It said the first part will see Oprah speak to Meghan about ‘everything from stepping into life as a Royal, marriage, motherhood, philanthropic work to how she is handling life under intense public pressure’.
CBS added that they will later be joined by Harry as they ‘speak about their move to the United States and their future hopes and dreams for their expanding family’.