As we learned last week, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be getting their own office/household/court in the weeks and months to come. We knew that the Cambridges and Sussexes would be splitting up their offices, but we didn’t know (before last week) that the Sussexes’ office would be located in Buckingham Palace, and that they would answer to the Queen’s communications office. We still haven’t gotten confirmation either way about separate Sussex social media accounts, but as I said on Friday, I don’t see how they could avoid it. I really do think we’ll see @OfficialSussex or @SussexFrogmore or @RoyalSussex Instagram and Twitter accounts launched right around the birth of Polo Baby.
Alongside last week’s announcement, there’s been a lot of commentary about what this means and whether the Sussexes will have more or less independence, and whether this is a good or bad thing for Brand Sussex. There are also questions about whether Harry and Meghan will be free to build “Brand Sussex” locally and internationally now. Sources tell the Times of London “not so much.”
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle are itching to set up a global “philanthropy brand” without the pesky oversight of the royal family — but the Queen and Prince Charles have put the kibosh on their plans. Instead, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will set up an official household of aides and staffers within Buckingham Palace, under the Queen’s watchful eye.
“They wanted their household to be entirely independent of Buckingham Palace, but were told ‘no’,” a royal source told the Sunday Times of London. “They can’t just go off and do their own thing.” Their new offices will be separate from the household of Prince William, which the brothers have shared up to now. Officials insist that the break is a sensible change for siblings with different royal responsibilities.
But the Sussexes’ ambitions are sparking conflict at London’s refined annual Chelsea flower show this week, where Meghan and Harry are sponsoring an ecology-minded African garden that’s stealing the spotlight from a rustic English installation designed by sister-in-law Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. Kate’s “Back to Nature” garden features a treehouse, a waterfall, wild strawberries, and a campfire where children can toast marshmallows. The “African climate change garden” presented by Camfed, one of Meghan and Harry’s top charities, boasts solar panels, an advanced irrigation system, and drought-resistant crops. The royal family has intervened to keep Kate’s design from the glare of her in-laws’ glamour, ordering the charity to keep Harry’s photo out of their publicity materials for the event.
Is there any drama quite like FLOWER SHOW DRAMA? Stuffy British peeps getting melodramatic about thunder-stealing at a flower show is… well, quite on-brand for British people. If you throw in a story about someone running off with the vicar’s wife (their affair began at the flower show, clearly), this story would be the latest hit show on the BBC and BBC America. Anyway, I do think the palace probably intervened with the Chelsea Flower Show thing because before now, I didn’t even know that the Sussexes had sponsored an installation, but I have known about Kate’s installation for months. Because she was so keen about it! Thunder-stealing!
As for the larger story about how the Sussexes wanted to do their own thing completely separate from any royal oversight… I have the feeling that this story is a lot like the “Meghan demanded that the Queen give her THAT tiara and Difficult Meghan made the Queen cry!” stories. In that all of those stories are bullsh-t. Meghan and Harry understand where the line is – they know they can’t go completely away from the royal operations. Their goal was never to be completely separate from royal operations. Their goal was to be completely separate from the Cambridges. THAT is the story.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, WENN.