A spokesperson for the couple announced today that, though they “would prefer that in the immediate weeks and months, the focus remains on the global response to COVID-19,” the Duke and Duchess of Sussex understand that there are outstanding questions relating to their future outside of the Royal Household, which officially begins on April 1.
The March 30 post marks the final time the couple post under the @SussexRoyal handle and also the end of SussexRoyal.com, the website they launched at the start of the year to outline details of their transition from royal duties. From this point onwards, the accounts will become inactive.
As has previously been reported, the couple will now spend the future focusing on their non-profit organization, having shelved ideas last year to establish a U.K.-based Sussex Royal Foundation. Though Travalyst—Harry’s sustainable tourism venture, which was to be an anchor initiative for the foundation—will continue, all other aspects of the charity are being wound up.
“The Trustees of the Sussex Royal Foundation have been an invaluable resource to The Duke and Duchess, providing essential guidance,” says the spokesperson. “The Duke and Duchess are incredibly grateful for the Trustees’ support and counsel in recent months.”
Travalyst, one of Harry’s main focuses for the year ahead, is now being established as an independent non-profit organization based in the U.K.
“COVID-19 has presented the world with one of the greatest public health and socio-economic challenges of modern times,” says a statement released March 30. “It has also forced one of the biggest human behavioral changes in generations. When restrictions related to controlling the pandemic ease, the role of responsible tourism to support communities and destinations around the world will be more important than ever. The Duke is working closely with each of the Travalyst partners to better understand how this non-profit organization can aid in global recovery, especially by supporting communities, wildlife and the environment at the same time.”
Despite President Trump’s breathless March 29th tweet about refusing the couple security in the U.S., where they are now currently based, Harry and Meghan have already made their own private security arrangements. “For their safety and that of those protecting them, no further comment or guidance will be provided,” says the Sussex spokesperson, who adds that tabloid reports and speculation on security measures “interferes with operational ability and adds risk to all those receiving protection, those who are protecting them, and potentially to members of the public.”
From the end of Tuesday, the couple will no longer rely on their household office at Buckingham Palace, which was headed up by communications secretary Sara Latham and private secretary Fiona Mcilwham. In the U.S., PR firm Sunshine Sachs will represent the couple for media enquiries, while trusted former Royal Foundation aide James Holt will handle the role for the U.K. and Commonwealth. Starting in April, former staffer from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Catherine St-Laurent, will start in a post as Chief of Staff to the couple and also serve as Executive Director of their new yet-to-be-named non-profit organization.
In a statement shared with BAZAAR.com, the duke and duchess said, “We are proud to be joined by Catherine St-Laurent in this next chapter with us. Her leadership and proven track record working within two organizations that have tremendous impact in the world—the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Pivotal Ventures—make her an incredible asset and we are excited to have her on our team.”
St-Laurent joins from Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company created by Melinda Gates, where she helped lay the groundwork for the organization since its inception in 2015. Prior to this, Catherine led Melinda Gates’s communications for several years at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A native of Montreal, St-Laurent moved to Seattle in 2011 after nearly a decade working in Brussels and London.
“From our very first conversation, Harry and Meghan have expressed a deep commitment to improving lives and having a positive impact on society,” St-Laurent tells BAZAAR in a statement. “Their perspective on the role that empathy, connection, and compassion can play in that mission is both deeply personal and incredibly timely. I am delighted and honored to be able to play a role in realizing their vision as they embark on this journey of learning, listening, and inspiring all of us to act.”
As Harry, Meghan, and their son Archie settle in to their new lives in California, their spokesperson adds, “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will spend the next few months focusing on their family and continuing to do what they can, safely and privately, to support and work with their pre-existing charitable commitments while developing their future non-profit organization.”
The duke and duchess remain committed and supportive to their patronages and will continue to work closely with them.