The Cambridges think that they’re going to have a ‘charity-off’ with the Sussexes

Prince William and Kate Middleton in the stands of the Wimbledon tournament in London

Earlier this week, we heard that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were reorganizing their foundation now that the Sussexes have been pushed out. The Sussexes were always going to start their own foundation, it was just a question of what would be left for William and Kate, and what W&K would do with what remained. Well, the Royal Foundation’s CEO, Lorraine Heggessey, was pushed out and replaced with Jason Knauf. Knauf – aka Poor Jason – has been in various senior positions with the Cambridges for the better part of a decade. He was their communications director, then their senior advisor, and now he’s their foundation’s CEO. And in case you need it underlined, this is a bad move – Poor Jason is not the PR genius they think he is. Jason is a yes-man who knows the Cambridges very well. He’s their guy. Allow Katie Nicholl at Vanity Fair to try to make this sound like a good thing:

The Cambridges are going to miss Natalie Campbell: The Knauf news comes weeks after news broke that Harry and Meghan had poached the Royal Foundation’s director Natalie Campbell. That hiring was just one more move in what has been dubbed the “divorce” between the Sussexes and the Cambridges, and was seen by some royal insiders as a blow to William and Kate, who relied heavily on Campbell as the “director of insight and innovation” at their joint foundation.

Knauf is their guy: Royal insiders say the appointment is significant because it puts one of the Cambridges’ most senior and trusted advisors at the helm of their new operation as they re-structure The Royal Foundation, which will become the “principal charitable vehicle for The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge“ beginning October 1. “The Cambridges have put a lot of thought into the forum and how it should be structured now that it is solely theirs,” says a well-placed source. “Their decision to promote Jason, who has always been their guy, is quite significant. This is about taking it in the direction they want and putting their stamp on it and Jason’s the man to do that. He has a genuine connection with the couple and understands the direction they want to go in.”

The Cambridges think Knauf is brilliant: “Jason is very popular and well liked at the palace both by the couple and staff. He’s a safe pair of hands and a brilliant strategist,” says a palace source, adding that the promotion to CEO is both a show of loyalty from the couple as well as the next natural step.

The Charity-Off: Adds another source who works closely with the Royal Foundation, “In his advisory role he was focused very much on the couple’s charity initiatives and how their different ventures are being structured. Jason is very much their guy and there’s a feeling that this is quite a territorial move and William and Kate surrounding themselves with their people. Harry and Meghan will be hiring their own staff to run their foundation which they plan to operate quite differently. It’s a bit of a charity-off, both couples are really investing their time and energy into their charity work.”

[From Vanity Fair]

I said earlier this week, when Knauf’s appointment was announced, that all of this actually sounds like a classic Knauf Keen-bait. There’s a flurry of press around how brilliant and hard-working the Cambridges are going to be in the future and how they have so many big, important plans and they’re so extraordinarily keen, and they have better plans than Harry and Meghan, and there’s all of this advanced hype… and then nothing. Then nothing much happens, there’s no real follow-through and there will be no “charity-off.” What will happen – and mark my words on this one – is that whenever Harry and Meghan do anything with their foundation, Will and Kate’s people (Poor Jason) will run to the press and accuse the Sussexes of stealing their ideas or trying to outshine the Cambridges, etc.

Also: it’s very clear that the Cambridges’ first and perhaps sole priority is loyalty, not new ideas, not new blood.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt attending the 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' premiere during the 72nd Cannes Film Festival at the Palais des Festivals on May 21, 2019 in Cannes, France | usage worldwide

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit the Cinemagic in Ballymena

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59 Responses to “The Cambridges think that they’re going to have a ‘charity-off’ with the Sussexes”

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  1. Eliza says:

    They can fight all they want, we know who the real winner is: Princess Anne.

    You have to combine all 4′s events to get her numbers. And she does it for duty and without a press pack following her.

  2. kerwood says:

    I think Kaiser’s right. Normal Bill and Keen Katie will spend their time sniping at the Sussexes. And it will work. Because a lot of people want to believe bad things about the Sussexes. Whether it’s true or not.

  3. Himmiefan says:

    I think you’re totally right; the Cambridges and their people will talk a lot about what they’re going to do, won’t actually do it, and will then spend time reacting to H&M. Plus, I just don’t see W&K spending as much time thinking about their foundation as Nicholl says that they do. Anyway, overall, Kate is nice and Will is blah and neither can compete with the superstar couple of Harry and Meghan. And good for Harry and Meghan. As the #2, Harry has to make his own way.

  4. DS9 says:

    Sure, Jan

  5. Becks1 says:

    I like how this implies that the Cambridges have somehow been hindered by the Sussexes being part of their foundation – all the comments about “putting their stamp on it” etc. Meghan has only been in the family for a year. There was plenty of time before that for the Cambridges to put their stamp on the foundation and its work.

    • Pineapple says:

      Oh Becks1, THIS!!!!!!!! Blerg.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      Thats how I read this, implying they were being held back by the Sussex’s. Now that Poor Jason is in charge, we’ll get loads of keen baiting stories about what the plan to do and then nothing will actually happen.

      I wonder what stunts they will pull to try and piggy back on what the Sussex’s do with their foundation?

  6. Nic919 says:

    Ed Sheeran is packing his van to Norfolk as we speak…

    • BayTampaBay says:

      @Nic919, Sorry but I am a Yank and do not get this comment! LOL! LOL!

      Why would Ed going to Norfolk? Will he visit the Cholmondeleys or the Cambridges?

      • Becks1 says:

        @Bay – there was an event a few years ago for one of Kate’s patronages (I cant remember which one now. Natural History Museum? Maybe EACH?) anyway, there was a big gala event and Kate was supposed to be the big draw and she ended up not going, so Ed Sheeran basically “stood in” for her as the big celeb name there that night to help raise money. I’m not sure if he was supposed to go or not before Kate bailed, but he definitely became the stand-in “big name” of the night.

      • Digital Unicorn says:

        @Becks and @Bay – It was for EACH and IIRC she bailed at the last min (can’t remember why) and the organisers had to scramble to get someone else and Ed stepped in. It was a gala that was organised by you guessed it Rose Who?!?, who is also a patron of the charity. I think Ed either knows Rose or her husband, there was some connection.

      • Becks1 says:

        @DU – NO!!! it was organized by Rose?!?!?!? I wonder if that played a part in her last minute withdrawal?

      • Digital Unicorn says:

        @Becks – Yep, IIRC the gala was held in Houghton Hall which is why I assume the OP mentioned Norfolk.

    • Harla says:

      Hasn’t Ed been doing quite a bit with EACH in the last couple of years? I can’t recall the last time Kate visited a children’s hospice.

    • bamaborn says:


  7. tempest prognosticator says:

    A charity competition? Good. Have at it.

    • PlainJane says:

      My thoughts too. Everybody wins when charities get lots of attention, funding and time.

  8. Seraphina says:

    Between this and the Botox issue in one, I’m convinced they are totally tone deaf. And that blue ensemble reminds me of something a stewardess would wear in the 70s.

  9. Sarah says:

    They can snipe as much as they like. At the end of the day one pair likes to work whereas the other have spent over a decade avoiding it. The engagement figures will speak for themselves. They shouldn’t have pushed this split. The smart move would have been to stick together and piggy back off of H&M work and popularity. This just exposes them!

  10. Pineapple says:

    Let’s call it a day and declare Meghan and Harry the “Charity off” winners. XO Based on work ethic alone. I know Harry doesn’t have the work history that Meghan has but the charities he works with; The Invictus Games … he has brought enormous visibility to his chosen charities.

    • Sofia says:

      It does appear the Sussex Foundation have hit the round running. Disney is promising a contribution to their future wildlife conservation fund, Harry and Jane Goodall were pretty adorable yesterday (I know he was representing as the Commonwealth Youth Ambassador). They’re getting some really great exposure, that will ultimately help their foundation.

      Also, they didn’t “poach” Natalie Campbell, she made a decision on her own accord. I wish Jason the best and I hope the Cambridges’ will come back from vacation ready to compete for charity’s sake.

      • chunkyla says:

        The Cambridge’s are participating in that Sailing Regatta at Cowes next month to raise money & awareness for 8 of their chosen charities. While its hard to know how much money they will raise the potential is huge and they are not going to end the day raising zero so their charities are going to benefit regardless.

        This so-called “charity off” will benefit the charities of both couples so I actually think its a win-win.

  11. Megan says:

    I don’t think Heggessy was forced out. By splitting into two foundations, the budget for both entities will be drastically reduced, which means the CEO’s job is now primarily fundraising. My guess is Campbell led the fundraising efforts when it was a joint charity, which makes her an excellent pick for the Sussex CEO.

  12. Chaine says:

    I’m not against it if it means they will all be stepping up their charitable activities.

  13. RedWeatherTiger says:

    I was trying to figure out why I hate Kate’s blue coat so much…I mean, objectively, it is lovely. But I hate it. And I was lingering on the image and noticed Kate’s hands. I zoomed in on them and…something is weird there. Lest I be accused of hand shaming, I’m sure she never puts a finger wrong, but…gosh.

  14. boz says:

    All this charity kerfuffle seems to miss the point, imo. As the spare, Harry’s charities will be his and Meghan’s life work, since his role in the monarchy won’t really change. William, on the other hand, is the heir. Someday, he will be the Prince of Wales, and then he will, presumably, be king. Since his role will change over time, it makes sense for the brothers to separate their households and charities. It’s the way of the family business, no? (At least, that’s my take on it. Please don’t yell at me.)

    • Nic919 says:

      Charles is the actual Prince of Wales and future king and manages a ton of charitable endeavours right now in addition to handling the Duchy of Cornwall management and some of his mother’s delegated duties. There is no reason for William not to be following his example right now except that William does not want to.

      • boz says:

        Yes, and someday William will take over those Prince of Wales duties… Really, I don’t get the outrage on this site about William. He’s a spoiled, entitled aristocrat, yes, but, come on, so is his brother Harry. And it’s fine and expected. But let’s not try to pretend we know these people and their motivations. It’s silly.

      • Nic919 says:

        You were trying to say that because he’s future prince of Wales that he can’t do more charity work. His father’s example proves this wrong. Dragging Harry into this doesn’t justify why William can’t do like his father.

      • Becks1 says:

        I interpreted Boz’s comment to mean that it makes sense the foundations split, since Harry and Meghan are going in a different direction in terms of their life’s work, then Kate and Will. And the split itself does make sense.

        But, if she meant that bc William is the future future king then he cant do charity work, I disagree.

  15. MamaT says:

    A little OT, but Kate’s caped coat looks just like the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic’s uniform – you know the French Wizarding Academy in Harry Potter!

  16. Melissa says:

    A few words of advice: “A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.”

  17. Camille says:

    Can’t they both be doing something good without bashing the other? Since each couple is helping a CHARITY so what if they are in competition? Or who says they are? Compliment the Sussex’s without bashing the Cambridge’s. I think both charities are the winners if they are putting more effort into their charities.

    • Sofia says:

      This is a real win-win situation, I hope the Royal Reporters read your comment.

    • Betsy says:

      We’re just kind of going off history here. William and Kate don’t work unless dragged to it kicking and screaming.

  18. PlainJane says:

    Popping the popcorn.

    Of course, I don’t believe the Cambridges will actually get out and DO MORE WORK. Because work is hard. And … you actually have to show up for it.

  19. Nicegirl says:

    Bon chance

  20. Jumpingthesnark says:

    Charity -off!!! Whatever. More blah blah to distract from the latest Epstein news.

  21. Lady D says:

    The hell does that man have around his neck? Please tell me he didn’t actually pay for that shredded rag. I mean, you can get a whole bag that look like that at the local thrift store for a dollar.

    • BeanieBean says:

      A commenter the other day called it Part Blankie–the silky edge which was all that was left of her loved-to-tatters childhood blanket. That’s what I think now when I see that photo.

  22. Fluffy Princess says:

    The numbers will prove how Keen each couple is, bottom line.

    Like other posters said, competition is good if the charities benefit from the efforts and exposure of the two foundations.

    Also, all the Beauxbatons comments are spot on! That coat is totally Harry Potter!

    Also, would that coat have been “better” in a different color..or pattern?

  23. Maevo says:

    Remember when Kate was “keen” to learn more about the textiles industry?! rofl. And whatever happened to that big initiative she was going to launch this past winter/spring? Or was saying that she cares about early childhood the “launch” ?? I wonder what Catherine Quinn has been up to as Kate’s secretary. I thought hiring her was a sign they were gearing up to get more serious but that never materialized…

    • Hope says:

      They should have made Catherine CEO. Kate has made a lot of progress since Quinn joined them.

    • Beach Dreams says:

      It’s the same old story year after year. All talk and bluster with absolutely nothing of substance to follow up. And yet certain segments of the royal fandom will scream to high heaven about how “hard” Keen Kate is working and how busy she must be as a “working” mother. Ditto for Wayward Willie, whose work rate this year is apparently 25% lower than the previous one. How sad indeed.

  24. gingersnaps says:

    My son and I’s closest brush with royalty happened today! 😂
    We were on the bus next to the Range Rover driving Prince Harry to his next engagement, he was surrounded with a lot of policemen in motorbikes, previously he was at Sheffield Children’s hospital to open their new wing and then to Sheffield Hallam University & then English Institute of Sport to visit the Invictus trials.

  25. Harla says:

    I’d rather see them do a “dance off” ala Zoolander :)

  26. Izzy says:

    Doubt very much that the Sussexes GAF.

  27. Bee says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the CEO went of her own accord, and that Poor Jason got the gig by default. He must be the biggest butt kisser.

    If you had to choose between Harry & Meghan’s interesting projects and William and Kate’s boring projects it’s a pretty easy decision. William and Kate are the King and Queen….of Boring.