But the podcast isn’t the only sign they’re cranking back into action.
In March, 13 of their taxpayer-funded employees lost their jobs when Harry and Meghan stopped royal duties. Now Archewell is recruiting – and splurging hundreds of thousands of dollars on the new recruits. The Sussexes have rehired two aides they lost in March, Clara Loughran and Beth Herlihy, to work on a freelance basis for Archewell’s charity projects.
New Zealand-born Mrs Loughran is married to Harry’s former assistant communications secretary Nick Loughran. She’d previously worked for the prince since 2015, looking after his charitable initiatives and official engagements. In a sign of how close she is to the prince, she was made a Member of the Royal Victorian Order on Harry’s recommendation. The RVO is given to those who’ve served the Queen or her family in a personal, distinguished capacity.
The other rehire, Beth Herlihy, was programme manager for the Sussexes from September 2018. She also worked for more than four years as an events coordinator at the Royal Foundation, set up by Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
After leaving royal service, the two aides set up Herlihy Loughran, described on its website as “an advisory partnership that links influential people and organisations to good causes, bringing ideas to life and turning intention into real, purposeful action”.
This kind of organisation – a sort of benevolent venture-capital firm that hooks up rich people with worthy causes – is now a recognised part of the charity world. Charity fundraisers know that the way to get the big bucks is to attract a few megarich, generous individuals and organisations to their causes – rather than rattling tins on street corners.
The uber-connected Sussexes – plugged into the rich, the grand and the showbiz set on both sides of the Atlantic – are perfectly positioned to benefit from those connections.
They’re also identifying the charitable causes Archewell will help. A plan to fund food kitchens in disaster zones has been chosen as the foundation’s first big project.
Now, perhaps thanks to their multi-million dollar deals with Netflix and Spotify, the Sussexes can hire the extra staff needed to promote Archewell. PR is the crucial service huge companies depend on to burnish their credentials. Facebook, which already has Sir Nick Clegg in charge of its global policy and communications, is currently recruiting another six high-profile PR executives.
In America, the Sussexes have employed a head of communications, Christine Weil Schirmer, 42, formerly at the image-sharing website Pinterest. The mother of one was, like the Duchess, at Northwestern University in Illinois. The couple also have a press secretary in America, Toya Holness, who previously worked for Endeavor, formerly called the William Morris Agency, one of the most famous talent agencies in Hollywood.
Before joining the Sussexes in October, Holness was head of communications for New York City’s Department of Education and a Professor of Communications and Journalism at the University of South California.
Also in America, the Sussexes have hired a chief of staff, Catherine St Laurent, also executive director of Archewell. The ideal figure for the gilded end of the charity world, she previously managed the profile of Melinda Gates and the communications activities at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, set up to improve global health, education and gender equality.
In Britain, the Sussexes already have a head of PR, James Holt. So they are building up a mighty wage bill – reported to be well over a million pounds. On the payroll, they also have PAs, employees on their film and Archewell Audio productions and the domestic staff needed for the vast £11 million (AU $19.5 million) California home they bought this summer.
In 2021, Prince Harry is said to be keen to return to Britain, Covid permitting, for the Queen’s 95th birthday in April and Prince Philip’s 100th in June. He will also want to attend his beloved Invictus Games for injured and sick armed service personnel. The Games are set to take place in The Hague in May and June.
“The Invictus Games have been hugely successful,” says Hugo Vickers, biographer of the Queen Mother, Queen Mary and the Duchess of Windsor. “He’s a nice boy who was doing such a good job and getting a lot out of it – the Army was good for him and the Commonwealth was good for him. He seemed to have found his level and his skill. During the NHS clapping, I thought how, after the Cambridges clapped, it would have been great to have heard from him.”
2021 will also be the year when the Sussexes have to finesse their relationship with the Royal family once and for all. “There’s supposed to be a summit with the Sussexes in March,” says Vickers. “I can’t see them coming over to discuss this personally. He’s isolated from his family, the army, his friends, the Commonwealth. It’s a pointless existence in self-exile.”
One subject up for discussion at the March summit will likely be what to call the couple: at the moment, the Sussexes retain their HRH titles but don’t use them.
Even the name Archewell is confusing. The Sussexes chose it to chime with that of their son, Archie. “Arche” in ancient Greek means “sovereignty”, “empire” and “realm”. Arche is the root of the word “monarchy”. So, by accident, the name Archewell shows all the confusion of their current position – are they royal or aren’t they?
The Sussexes apparently liked the idea that “arche” also means “beginning” or “source of action”.
With their new team – and the Spotify and Netflix megabucks – in place, Archewell will no doubt produce more than the odd podcast in 2021. Can we look forward to a little less conversation – and a little more action?
Harry Mount is author of ‘How England Made the English’ (Penguin)
The Telegraph London