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Harry and Meghan to set up own charity after split from William and Kate

The decision was announced after a review of the Royal Foundation’s structure.

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and the Duchess and Duke of Cambridge during the first Royal Foundation Forum in central London (Chris Jackson/PA)
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and the Duchess and Duke of Cambridge during the first Royal Foundation Forum in central London (Chris Jackson/PA)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are to set up their own foundation after splitting from their joint charity with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, it has been announced.

Seen as the final step in the division of the couples’ public duties, Harry and Meghan are breaking away from the Royal Foundation.

It follows reports over the past year of a rift, first between Kate and Meghan, and then between future king William and his younger brother, Harry.

Sources denied there was a feud, saying it was “largely about preparing both couples for their future roles, which are obviously on divergent tracks”.

William and Kate will remain with the original charity, which will be renamed the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The statement on the Royal Foundation said: “Later this year the Royal Foundation will become the principal charitable and philanthropic vehicle for The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will establish their own new charitable foundation with transitional operating support from The Royal Foundation.”

It added: “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.”

The Royal Foundation said the decision was made following the conclusion of a review into its structure.

It said both couples will continue to work together in the future, including on the Heads Together mental health campaign.

Harry and Meghan have already split from the Cambridges’ Kensington Palace household, setting up their own at Buckingham Palace in the spring, with a separate head of communications and SussexRoyal Instagram account.

Royal aides previously said the foursome were to remain joint patrons of the Royal Foundation.

The Sussexes, who have recently welcomed baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, also moved from London’s Kensington Palace – home to William and Kate and their children – to live at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor.

Thursday’s announcement followed William and Harry’s meeting with trustees of the Royal Foundation at Kensington Palace on Wednesday to finalise the arrangements.

They were not joined by the duchesses, but both dukes spoke, addressing the board.

William, Kate, Harry and Meghan’s joint Royal Foundation venture was intended to harness the star power of the four high-profile royals, but it lasted just 16 months after their first appearance as a foursome.

They were dubbed the Fab Four after taking to the stage together at the first – and so far only – Royal Foundation forum in London in February 2018.

The inaugural event was billed as an annual affair.

During the question-and-answer session, they were quizzed on whether there were disagreements, with William replying “Oh yes”, while Harry said “healthy disagreements”, adding that he could not remember if they had all been resolved as they “come so thick and fast”.

Meghan said: “Thank goodness (there are) such differing personalities and everyone’s very communicative because that’s how you can really see bigger change.”

Harry also said at the event it was good to have “four different personalities”, but they had the “same passion to want to make a difference”.

He said “working as family does have its challenges” but insisted “we’re stuck together for the rest of our lives”.

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Harry, Meghan and Kate during the first Royal Foundation Forum (Chris Jackson/PA)

The Royal Foundation was set up by William and Harry in 2009 to run all their charitable campaigns and ventures, and joined by Kate when she became Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.

Meghan joined in May 2018 after becoming an HRH, with the charity’s title later officially changing to The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

The body set up successful charity campaigns including Heads Together, the Endeavour Fund and projects with the Invictus Games.

Allegations of a dispute between the duchesses, who are said to be “very different people”, centred on reprimanding staff and tensions during Princess Charlotte’s bridesmaid dress fitting.

This was followed by reports of a strained relationship and falling out between the dukes.

Sources said part of the move was to do with the four royals becoming two established couples with families, and also inspired by the division into two separate working households.

The change is aimed at setting the couples on “a path that is sustainable for the future”, they said.

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Harry and Meghan speak to guests at a women’s empowerment reception during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chris Jackson/PA)

No name has been unveiled yet for Harry and Meghan’s charity, which is expected to have a “global outreach”, possibly linked to the couple’s planned work in Africa, and their commitment to female empowerment.

The split could lead to claims the two charitable organisations will be rivals vying for publicity and funds in areas like wildlife conservation or support for military veterans.

In 2018, William actually called on charities to combine forces, rather than establishing more individual organisations.

The duke said in a keynote speech to the Charity Commission: “Instead of setting up more individual charities working in the same fields, I wonder if we could do more to explore ways of combining forces, working and innovating together?”

He added: “Competition for funds between an ever-growing number of charities, and the confusion it can cause among donors, can lead to the
silo-ing of expertise and, at worst, territorial behaviour.”

But sources said William and Kate’s foundation would help establish the Sussexes’ charity, and they “anticipate the two organisations will have an incredibly close relationship going forward.”

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