Archewell’s president stepped down, now Prince Harry & Meghan will take over

After Netflix’s Harry & Meghan series comes out, I hope we get a series or a documentary about Archewell, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s charity and business. Archewell is their umbrella organization for their podcast work, Netflix productions and their charitable endeavors. Since moving to America in 2020, they’ve steadily built up Archewell’s business side, and we’re seeing the fruits of those labors now, with Meghan’s successful Archetypes podcast to the Harry & Meghan docuseries (which will probably be one of Netflix’s biggest hits of the year). They have plenty of projects in the pipeline too, including Harry’s Invictus series, which should be out next year. It feels like a curious time for a major staff shakeup, but that’s what’s happening:

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are taking “full lead” of their Archewell Foundation, PEOPLE can confirm. According to a statement from the nonprofit obtained by PEOPLE, Mandana Dayani has stepped down from her position as Archewell president in a “mutually planned” arrangement that will see Harry, 38, and Meghan, 41, take “full lead” of their organization.

“Ms. Dayani has been an integral part of Archewell and we are grateful for her passion, commitment and leadership,” the couple shared. “Ms. Dayani was brought on during their parental leave to move the company and its projects forward. She has continued to shape its vision and future successfully.”

“Her transition was mutually planned, with intent for the Duke and Duchess to now take full lead of their company. There will be no replacement for this position, and Ms. Dayani is fully supportive of the Duke and Duchess in their new leadership roles, and they remain friends,” the statement continues.

[From People]

So… Harry and Meghan are now going to be solely in charge of Archewell? They’ll still have extensive staff, of course, but I wonder about this and what the plan is. I’m all for Meghan and Harry taking on more through Archewell, honestly, but it does make me wonder. If anything, I wonder if Archewell was overstaffed because of Meghan’s maternity leave, and now that she’s ready to be back full-time, there were “too many cooks in the kitchen.” Speaking of, Page Six had an exclusive about another staff member leaving, only the kicker comes near the end of the report:

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s head of audio has left the couple’s Archewell brand — and it remains unclear whether Markle will host a second season of her podcast, Page Six can reveal. Rebecca Sananès, who was in charge of Markle’s controversy-stirring Spotify podcast “Archetypes with Meghan,” is moving on after just over a year at the company and is keen to launch her own project, sources said.

Sananès was brought on for the podcast and was instrumental in its creation.

It’s yet to be announced whether there will even be a second season of “Archetypes,” but we’re told if there is, producer Terry Wood would helm the podcast.

Sananès was hired in July 2021 after working for Vox Media and New York Magazine’s “Pivot” podcast, hosted by Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway. She joined Archewell in August 2021 and reported to Ben Browning, Archewell’s head of content.

In October, Sananès wrote on Instagram: “The podcast industry is severely undervaluing and under crediting the INCREDIBLY talented and hardworking producers and sound engineers behind your favorite shows. There are fewer and fewer opportunities for creators and it is stifling the industry creatively and financially.” She then edited the post to add: “TO BE CLEAR this isn’t about me or my current position. It’s an observation of the state of podcasting as a whole.”

It’s not known whether the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will continue their deal with Spotify, but one highly placed industry source told Page Six: “I think they would be happy if their contracts with Netflix and Spotify went away, quite honestly. But the question is then, how else will they make money?”

Sources told Page Six that Sananès’ departure is part of a larger growth plan for the Sussexes’ brand. The couple has already hired a replacement, Serena Regan, who was head of podcasts at Cadence 13 and bills herself as a media executive with wide experience of programing for a female audience.

[From Page Six]

So after all of that performative breast-beating about “what will happen to the podcasts NOW,” Page Six admits that the Sussexes already hired a replacement and have plans to expand. That quote from the “highly placed industry insider” reeks of “salty British commentator masquerading as a Spotify insider” too – “I think they would be happy if their contracts with Netflix and Spotify went away, quite honestly.” O RLY?? Because from where I sit, Harry and Meghan’s moves are of two smart operators and creators who are about to fundamentally change the culture.

Photos courtesy of Netflix and Spotify.

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28 Responses to “Archewell’s president stepped down, now Prince Harry & Meghan will take over”

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  1. Harla A Brazen Hussy says:

    Why would they want their Spotify and Netflix contracts to go away?

    • Amie says:

      Because that’s what the Royals and British media want. Lol.

      • Julia K says:

        @amie, yes they want them broke and bankrupt so they will come crawling back on their knees and apologize. That is their dream scenario and it’s not going to happen.

      • Harla A Brazen Hussy says:

        Thanks Aime, I thought that perhaps there was a genuine business reason. In my defense I have the plague and am not thinking right 🤒

      • Tessa says:

        I immediately had an image popping up in my brain how an undefined number of former „royal sources“ shapeshifted into „Spotify insiders“ – which added a whole new perspective to the royal clownshow. Yes, it really is funny. (Until it isnt because it’s beyond belief that this is reality.)

    • Isabella says:

      Harla, I had same question & I am in perfect health. Wishful thinking on the British media’s part. That’s what I decided.

  2. Colby says:

    I’m not sure it’s such a weird time for the president to leave. The podcast is done, the doc is airing. Maybe they are in a temporary lull between projects and H&M can pick up the new projects from here.

    • Emily says:

      Mandana has her own organisation and is very involved in politics. US politics is about to get busy as people start to announce their presidential runs. Makes sense she’d want to focus on this. Especially if she was brought on initially to support the organisation through Harry and Meghan’s parental leave.

      • Petra (Brazen Archetyped Phenomenal Woman) says:

        Emily, you nailed it. Mandana was hired to head the organization during Prince Harry and Meghan’s parental leave.

    • Gem says:

      Mandana is known for running heavy political campaigns during election cycles so given 2024 is 2 years away, I can totally see the timing being now for her to leave. I wouldn’t be surprised by her future announcements involve major democratic party campaigns.

  3. Pumpkin (Was Sofia) says:

    This makes sense to me. It lines up with the reports of them having their own PR team instead of continuing with Sunshine and Sachs. They’re bringing more and more things in-house which means having more influence on your own image as well as a more direct, focused team in general. Less leaks (although for the most part, the Sussexes haven’t had that many leaks barring a few) and just having a tighter circle in general.

  4. Kels says:

    So it sounds like they’ve got their footing after almost 1 1/2 years post Lilis birth, a successful podcast, finished documentaries, and a ready to get the show on the road even more..
    Meghan said she wasn’t going back to acting which means she doesn’t have as full of a plate as when she did with Suits and ran her blog. They are both worker bees so I do think this makes sense for them.
    I look forward to what they do next!!!

  5. D says:

    The only thing I know about Mandana is from The Rachel Zoe Project. She became president of her company at some point but I guess she left that some time ago. It seems as though they brought her on when they needed extra hands during maternity leave but now they are back full throttle and want to take over the day to day leadership. Good for them.

  6. Alice says:

    There are professionals who are very good at setting things up and incubating new ideas and organizations. They might not enjoy or be particularly talented at nurturing an established concern.

    Archewell is now well launched. They’ve survived the beginning. It doesn’t surprise me that there’s going to be some staff shakeups.

    • HufflepuffLizLemon says:

      I think this is a great call out that gets missed.
      Some talents like to stand up new orgs, new innovations, new processes (it’s me, I’m some talents lol), and some love keeping things going and developing and growing existing groups. If that’s her passion, it may be time to move on for her professionally.

    • Lissen says:

      Alice & Hufflepuff, agree 100%. Excellent points.
      Businesses do this all the time and understand that good professionals move around to new challenges, as pointed out by others on this thread. Only the tabloids would see this as a stick to beat the Sussexes with.

  7. L4Frimaire says:

    I hope Dayani had a great offer she couldn’t refuse. In a broader sense there are a lot of layoffs happening so wonder what’s happening there. I wonder if Archewell will need to restructure because the Sussexes have it under that one umbrella, so how much can they actually be hands on with? The thing is we don’t really know how they operate day to day, what finances are involved, and they still have the British royal stuff nipping at their heels. It seems like a lot so hope they are getting a good team in place. Any staff changes, shake ups or hires will be scrutinized with a fine tooth comb, and hope that the staff wasn’t getting some of the trolling and hate the Sussexes face. I hope we get another season of Archetypes. Why would they want out of those lucrative contracts if they give them such a big global platform?

  8. SH says:

    I think we are seeing a trend of people seeing working with Harry and Meghan as a resume builder. You get a project completed with them on your resume and then launch your own company or move on to another opportunity. I remember talking with my sister about this and how in her executive world people are expecting to change jobs at least every two years or they’re not seen as ambitious enough. I hate change so sounds awful to me, but this is the way other people live.

    Someone like Sananès is a very good podcast producer that’s what she was doing before Harry and Meghan. I can see that they may need someone with more managerial experience if they are expanding and not every podcast involves Meghan or Harry directly.

  9. Snuffles says:

    This is my take on the situation. While they we’re launching and ramping up this new, complicated organization, they convinced some heavy hitters to take temporary leave from their already thriving careers to help them get set up to the point where things were running smoothly enough so they could take over. Between COVID, losing a baby, having a baby, grandparents dying, lawsuits, Harry and Meghan had a LOOOOTTT on their plates and very much needed the help.

    But things are leveling off now. They’ve got a nice routine going and now they are able to take the lead now.

  10. Lady Esther says:

    In-house staff vs professional external support – this is the eternal dilemma for any organisation.

    –In-house staff works if they are incredibly talented, motivated and there is a cultural fit upon which you can build long-term relationships, but to stay on over life’s ups and downs, changes in people throughout the organisation and changes in the organisation itself is a toughie no matter the business.

    –Professional external support (if you select the best) is a godsend, especially as they tend to hit the ground running, you can direct them and demand specific results more easily than with in-house staff and you have access to junior, midlevel and senior resources so you can staff up or down as circumstances require. But that flexibility and power comes at a much higher price than in-house staff.

    Most organisations that last and have impact have a mix of both. I hope their HR person is savvy enough to understand this.

    It’s all about finding out what works for them at what stage Archewell is in; when it was a startup, it needed specific things. Now that it is growing and learning from what they are doing, they’ll need a different mix of in-house and professional expertise. I just hope that Meghan and Harry don’t take on too much, learn to delegate and to let their team evolve under the guidance of a top-notch, senior HR person and a board of directors that can give them good guidance over the long term.

  11. Case says:

    Mandana Dayani is a badass. I don’t think I realized she was working for them because she has so much of her own going on, but that’s so cool.

    I think it actually does seem like the right time for staffing changes — this is almost like the end of “phase one” of their media output — podcast is out, memoir coming soon, documentary coming imminently.

    • Petra (Brazen Archetyped Phenomenal Woman) says:

      I was shocked Archewell was able to get her. I’m sure Archewell got Mandana because the contract was for a short period of time.

    • L4Frimaire says:

      She’s really accomplished so if she was helping to steer their organization, they were fortunate to have her. I agree with those thinking she’ll be doing something more political. She’s already speaking out a lot in what’s happening in Iran so would love to see what she does next.

  12. MsIam says:

    As far as there being a second season of Archetypes, if Spotify built a podcasting studio in the Sussexes home plus gave them some credit in their third quarter report for attracting new subscribers, i think its a safe bet to say the relationship will continue. I can see the Sussexes wanting to focus the podcast on different topics, maybe something with Harry and Meghan together, but I still think there is so much potential for expansion that continuing with Spotify seems like a no brainer.

    • L4Frimaire says:

      I’d like another season of Archetypes but I hope they also do a series that focus more on one or two topics in depth.

  13. Amy Bee says:

    Page Six=The Sun. Same owner and agenda.