Monday, 6 April 2020

The Sussexes To Launch Archewell, The Couple "Moved" by Queen's Address & Charitable Celebrations

Good evening, I hope you're all well and in good spirits during this difficult time. Tonight's post is very much a mixed bag of  recent news, including heartwarming charitable initiatives and updates from two people who have worked closely with Meghan throughout her time in the UK. Before we get to that, there's significant news on plans for the future...

Archewell... We know Harry and Meghan are very much focused on plans for their non-profit charitable entity in the US at the moment. We hadn't expected to hear details for some months, however The Telegraph approached the couple after discovering documents filed and whilst they would have preferred to wait until the official launch, they told the paper they want the organisation “to do something of meaning, to do something that matters”.

Hannah Furness reports:

'The Duke and Duchess told the Telegraph: "Like you, our focus is on supporting efforts to tackle the global Covid-19 pandemic but faced with this information coming to light, we felt compelled to share the story of how this came to be.
“Before SussexRoyal, came the idea of ‘Arche’ - the Greek word meaning ‘source of action’.
“We connected to this concept for the charitable organisation we hoped to build one day, and it became the inspiration for our son’s name. To do something of meaning, to do something that matters.
“Archewell is a name that combines an ancient word for strength and action, and another that evokes the deep resources we each must draw upon. We look forward to launching Archewell when the time is right." 
Ambitious plans now under consideration for Archewell include “organising and conducting support groups for persons in need”, including “emotional counseling” and “coordinating social, personal care, and psychological services”.

Omid Scobie spoke to a source close to the Duke and Duchess who clarified several points. More from his Harper's Bazaar piece:

'The documents were first reported by The Telegraph, and features an extensive list of categories from movies to podcasts, clothing to charitable services, and even online seminars, lectures, and retreats. But don’t read into these details too much, as a source close to the couple tells, “The list of trademarking categories is extensive for protection purposes only.”
Indeed, despite speculation, BAZAAR understands that the couple currently have no plans for support groups or for Meghan to launch a lifestyle website “featuring information in the field of nutrition, general health, and mental health.”
If all goes to plan, Harry and Meghan plan to share actual details of their future endeavors later this year, closer to the summer. They add, “We look forward to launching Archewell when the time is right.”'

When the time is right, we will hear the full details of the couple's plans, but for now we can safely say they are working on creating a very special and effective organisation. I'm very excited to hear their plans in due course.

The Queen's Address... Last night millions of us tuned in to watch a rare historic address by the Queen speaking directly to those in the UK and across the Commonwealth. Echoing Dame Vera Lynn's emotive World War II song "We'll Meet Again", the monarch said: "I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge. And those who come after us will say the Britons of this generation were as strong as any. That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterise this country. The pride in who we are is not a part of our past, it defines our present and our future."

Omid Scobie revealed in Harper's Bazaar the Duke and Duchess watched from Los Angeles and "were both moved" by the Queen's reassuring words:

'The couple “were both moved” by the sovereign’s words, says a source close to the pair, adding, “They described it as not just a demonstration of experienced leadership, but also warmth, reassurance, and comfort.”
The Queen, who is in good health, recorded her message at Windsor Castle on April 2, where she and the Duke of Edinburgh are staying for the foreseeable future. A source confirms that Harry spoke to his grandmother at the end of last week “to offer his support ahead of the broadcast.”

Sussex Community During COVID-19... A bright light throughout this incredibly challenging period has been witnessing acts of kindness - regardless of size - from people all over the world. The collective power of the human spirit and a sense of togetherness has never been stronger though we have never been further apart physically. Something which Harry and Meghan are undoubtedly immensely proud of are the actionable and enormously successful charitable campaigns they have inspired. Several moths ago, I talked to you about Sussex Great Forest, an ambitious, purpose-driven effort started by eleven women who support the couple. After reaching their initial goal of planting 10,000 trees for Archie's first birthday, they realised a much larger target was doable. Through their sheer hard work and determination and support from all over the world, Sussex Great Forest has now planted over 100,000 trees. I can only begin to imagine how touched Harry and Meghan are. I want to take a moment to commend the team who worked tirelessly to achieve their goal. It truly is an outstanding achievement.

As one incredible initiative reaches its target, another one in honour of Archie's first birthday next month, Archie Day, is taking off at speed. Inspired by the Duke and Duchess' philanthropic work, a team of supporters, who previously spearheaded the hugely successful #GlobalSussexBabyShower, have organised this new endeavour not only to celebrate Archie's milestone but to support children affected by COVID-19. As so many of you will know, this is a time when the charitable sector is truly suffering and assistance is needed in a multitude of ways.

To begin with, the team have selected three amazing organisations doing vital work during the pandemic. For more than 160 years, Children's Aid in New York City has been helping children in poverty by "providing comprehensive supports to children, youth, and their families in targeted high-needs New York City neighborhoods".

As you'll know, New York is currently battling the pandemic and this has altered how charities operate. More on their approach and the work they are currently doing on the ground:

'At this time, the majority of our sites and programs remain open to serve those who need us, and we are adjusting rapidly as we learn more from our families, medical experts, and funding partners.
Our community health clinics that serve more than 5,000 patients remain open and ready to test symptomatic children and young people for COVID-19. We continue our standard practice and rigor regarding disinfection and sanitation across these and all of our locations, in accordance with CDC and WHO recommendations.
Our nearly 700 children in family, therapeutic, and medical foster care continue to be served, as do their families, with child welfare staff leveraging technology to provide counseling services and home visitations.
For youth in our child welfare programs who were living on college campuses that have been closed, we have arranged transportation, living arrangements, and computer equipment to access online learning.'

If you would like to donate please click here.

Nourish is a non-profit registered with the Department of Social Development in South Africa. They are fighting poaching through fighting poverty and connecting communities through education, agriculture and tourism. Their focus is firmly on breaking the cycle through solutions. Their work supporting vulnerable children includes a food scheme, after school club, sanitary pads for young teens, a school uniform project and sponsoring children through accessible education.

We all know how much South Africa means to Harry and Meghan, and the special place it holds in both their hearts. If you wish to donate please click here.

Much like South Africa, Canada holds many happy memories for the Sussexes. Toronto became Meghan's second home when she starred as Rachel Zane in Suits. During the early days of their relationship Harry visited many times and when they made the decision to step-back as senior royals, the country offered the peace and privacy they craved. Choosing a Canadian charity seemed a very natural choice. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada is a leader provider of quality after-school programmes for 200,000 children.

In addition to their youth and leadership programmes, they teach children the importance of nutrition and exercise, offer a food security programme and, during this time of great stress, their Flex Your Head initiative is tailored to support children's mental health.

If you would like to donate please click here.

In just under twenty-four hours, Archie Day has raised over $10,000 and they are just beginning.

George Northwood & Sarah Chapman... When Meghan first moved to the UK she began working with several key people who helped her achieve her signature looks. The name George Northwood instantly springs to mind when we think of that group. The London-based hairdresser worked closely with the Duchess at various times, including her wedding and her first overseas trip as a Duchess to Ireland, and most recently for her show-stopping looks in March. With the Sussexes settling in LA, sadly we probably won't see many of his styles in future.

On his Instagram page he shared the following insights into his time working with Meghan: "It has been an enormous privilege and a lot of fun working with the the Duke and Duchess of Sussex over the past two years. I have enjoyed every minute collaborating with this amazing couple who not only champion small businesses but have taught me so much about diversity, equality and the importance of good mental health. Here are a few of their many wonderful moments that I was honoured to be a part of. Harry, Meghan and Archie, wishing you much love and luck for your next exciting chapter! Can’t wait to see you one day soon - and so happy to now be able to share about our special time together."

Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Northwood said:

“I became so close to them both, they’re such a powerhouse and they really want to make a difference, that just shines through,” reflects George Northwood. It’s evident that Meghan and 41-year-old Northwood, a Londoner brimming with energy and enthusiasm who rose to fame as the man behind Alexa Chung's much copied bedhead bob, have forged a special bond ever since they met when the duchess-to-be first arrived in the UK and asked around for the best in business.
As he puts it, “I was quite nervous, she was so lovely and down to earth. She said ‘I’m just a Cali girl’ and I love that California hair, it’s my thing which I’ve done with Rosie (Huntington-Whiteley) and Gwyneth (you don’t need a surname for that one, right?). I felt so at ease right away.”
From the beginning, Northwood and Meghan worked on a hair strategy that would tread the fine line between “appropriate” and modern. “We had to make sure we ticked all the boxes, but then we wanted to make her look accessible and like a people’s princess that everyone relates to.”
With his easy charm and relaxed but meticulous approach, it’s unsurprising that Northwood fast became a key part of team Sussex and after doing Meghan’s evening wedding hair, was invited to attend the reception. “I didn’t really expect that to happen,” he demurs, “but that was a real moment.”

Just days before the engagement announcement, Meghan reportedly got a facial with the much sought-after Sarah Chapman. What we didn't know until now was the pair continued to work together. Meghan has radiant skin, which was so beautifully highlighted on her wedding day when she wore very little make up. Sarah said their shared "natural approach to beauty" was the key to Meghan's glowing looks.

Ms Chapman said:

'Through my work I am fortunate to meet some incredible, interesting and inspirational people and over the past 2 ½ years I feel honoured to have spent much time with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. With Meghan, what began as a client relationship quickly turned into a dear friendship and she welcomed me into their lives.  I feel very grateful to be a small part of their journey observing the passion for everything they do and compassion for the causes and people they meet, but also to witness the moments other people don’t see. Who they are at home, as parents, as partners, and friends, the kind and very down to earth people they are when no one is watching. Every day we learn something new and I have been taught so much by them, and I always leave our time together feeling fulfilled and inspired to help people in any small ways I can.
And to Meghan, Harry and little Arc hie: sending lots of love and positivity during this transition.  I know there will be so many ways you will continue to touch people’s lives and enable positive change and we can’t wait to see what you do next.  See you soon and thank you for everything you do.'

Finally, have you watched Disney's Elephant? I finally had the opportunity to do so and can highly recommend it. It's a beautiful, heart-warming story. The filming is outstanding and of course the narration is really a joy to listen to. The Duchess did a wonderful job, offering the right tone at the right moment, and is an engaging, warm and expressive narrator. If you haven't seen it, you can avail of a 7 day free trial with Disney +.

I want to thank you all for your post suggestions. I've completed a list and look forward to getting to work on them! :)

Monday, 30 March 2020

Harry & Meghan To "Focus on New Chapter" In Final Sussex Royal Post

It feels an age since Harry and Meghan first announced plans to step down as senior royals, doesn't it? Two years ago we were watching a star couple excited to take on their roles and undertaking a slew of successful engagements and away days as we eagerly awaited the royal wedding. I don't believe for a moment either of them expected things to take such a difficult and painful turn. Whether you're an avid supporter of the Sussexes or an observer who has disagreed with their choices from the beginning, if we take bias out of the equation on both sides, we can all come together on the fact Meghan was put through a hellish time by the British press, from a newlywed adjusting to a completely new life and country, through her pregnancy and first months of motherhood. This combined with a toxic situation behind the scenes, warring royal aides whose level of leaking crossed the line of gross unprofessionalism long ago, and the breakdown of Harry and William's relationship all made for an untenable situation moving forward.

There has been a great deal of anger within the royal community and indeed on this blog about the move to Los Angeles. I disagree with the notion we have the right to feel offended regarding Harry and Meghan's decision about their own happiness and the wellbeing of their family. I'm not suggesting their departure was handled as well as it could have been; there were several factors including the publishing of their Sussex Royal website which were premature and I think they were possibly working with people who had their best interests at heart, but were not sufficiently knowledgeable in the workings of the monarchy to make the determinations outlined on the website.

Whilst acknowledging this, it's also important to note how they both must have felt by the time they left Windsor for Canada last November. They felt totally unsupported and alone within the institution and fed to the wolves by courtiers. The sense of hurt, frustration and sadness was laid bare in Tom Bradby's documentary last autumn. Bradby went so far as to write in The Times the whole story could leave the monarchy just about surviving, owing to racism and sexism within the Royal household. "I suspect the Royal family would carry British public opinion still — perhaps only just — but its international standing is a key part of its value to the British state. If that were to be tarnished, it could be very damaging indeed." Bradby is not only a respected journalist, he is one of very few both William and Harry have trusted for well over a decade.  It's easy to blame Meghan - it's become the norm now - before rushing to judgement we need to remember how much we don't know.  We may never know the full story about what really happened, but we do know anyone who thought Harry was going to watch his wife be treated so appallingly was very much mistaken.

It's important to remember too, when they moved to Canada it was with the hope they could continue serving as royals in a part-time fashion and represent the Crown in the Commonwealth country. Essentially it boiled down to all in or all out, and all out they had no role in Canada. They accepted this and gave up a huge amount for freedom from a very unhappy situation. The reality is to become financially independent the US is simply a better place for them to run their charitable entity and take on profitable work such as the Obamas have done through speaking engagements and potentially a production deal with a streamer. They are no longer working members of the Royal family, no longer representing the Queen, no longer using HRH. With that shift, we have to alter our own expectations and the lens through which we view them. I remember several years ago on my other blog, there was a very vocal portion of royal watchers who felt personally aggrieved we didn't see more of the then-baby Prince George. I remember feeling concerned about the level of entitlement and ownership some feel regarding the Royal family. So, in short, while their initial idea of basing life between the UK and the privacy of Vancouver Island was an excellent idea, the bottom line is they will absolutely need to be earning a steady stream of income moving forward.

Tomorrow, 1 April, marks the official end of their time as working members of the family.

To coincide with their final day using Sussex Royal, they shared the following message on Sussex Royal:

'As we can all feel, the world at this moment seems extraordinarily fragile. Yet we are confident that every human being has the potential and opportunity to make a difference—as seen now across the globe, in our families, our communities and those on the front line—together we can lift each other up to realise the fullness of that promise.
What’s most important right now is the health and wellbeing of everyone across the globe and finding solutions for the many issues that have presented themselves as a result of this pandemic.
As we all find the part we are to play in this global shift and changing of habits, we are focusing this new chapter to understand how we can best contribute.
While you may not see us here, the work continues.
Thank you to this community - for the support, the inspiration and the shared commitment to the good in the world. We look forward to reconnecting with you soon. You’ve been great!
Until then, please take good care of yourselves, and of one another.
 Harry and Meghan'

Omid Scobie reports:

'A spokesperson for the couple announced today that though they “would prefer that in the immediate weeks and months, the focus remains on the global response to COVID-19,” the Duke and Duchess of Sussex understand that there are outstanding questions relating to their future outside of the Royal Household, which officially begins on April 1.'
As has previously been reported, the couple will now spend the future focusing on their nonprofit organization, having shelved ideas last year to establish a U.K.-based Sussex Royal Foundation. Though Travalyst—Harry’s sustainable tourism venture, which was to be an anchor initiative for the foundation—will continue, all other aspects of the charity are being wound up.
“The Trustees of the Sussex Royal Foundation have been an invaluable resource to The Duke and Duchess, providing essential guidance,” said the spokesperson. “The Duke and Duchess are incredibly grateful for the Trustees’ support and counsel in recent months.”
Travalyst, one of Harry’s main focuses for the year ahead, is now being established as an independent nonprofit organization based in the United Kingdom.
Despite President Donald Trump’s breathless March 29 tweet about refusing the couple security in the United States, where they are now currently based, Harry and Meghan have already made their own private security arrangements. “For their safety and that of those protecting them, no further comment or guidance will be provided,” says the Sussex spokesperson, who adds that tabloid reports and speculation on security measures “interferes with operational ability and adds risk to all those receiving protection, those who are protecting them, and potentially to members of the public.”

We won't see much of the couple in the months ahead as they focus on family, plans for the future and setting up a permanent home in the US. Carolyn Durand writes:

'ELLE has learned that Meghan and Harry will continue to be focused on the issues closest to their heart including gender equity and education, mental health, conservation, and support for the military community.
Catherine St-Laurent, who was a former senior executive of Melinda Gates staff, has been tapped to become chief of staff to the Sussexes and serve as executive director of their new non-profit organization. St-Laurent, formerly the director of Pivotal Ventures, worked lovely with Melinda Gates, spearheading the foundation’s work on women and family planning initiatives including making sure contraception and birth control is available to women globally, regardless of circumstance.
Meghan and Harry confirmed the hiring, saying today, "We are proud to be joined by Catherine St-Laurent in this next chapter with us. Her leadership and proven track record working within two organizations that have tremendous impact in the world—the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Pivotal Ventures—make her an incredible asset and we are excited to have her on our team.”
St-Laurent expressed her excitement too, saying, “From our very first conversation, Harry and Meghan have expressed a deep commitment to improving lives and having a positive impact on society. Their perspective on the role that empathy, connection, and compassion can play in that mission is both deeply personal and incredibly timely. I am delighted and honored to be able to play a role in realizing their vision as they embark on this journey of learning, listening, and inspiring all of us to act.”
James Holt, a valued member of Harry and Meghan’s staff, will also stay on with the couple in a new role. The highly regraded Holt had served as communications director for the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Duke and Duchess of Sussex before moving to the Sussexes' household when the Foundation split.'

As previously revealed, it will all be reviewed early next year as agreed upon by the Sussexes and the Royal family. They will be represented by US firm Sunshine Sachs for now.

From Meghan's time in the UK, I will particularly remember in the earliest days, before she and Harry married, she chose to support, uplift and empower the women of the Hubb community following the devastating Grenfell tragedy. Many of you will remember Munira Mahmoud: "I lost my best friend Rania and her two children, I was the last person she talked to on the phone, and I remember that she was very happy that I had managed to escape, being aware that she was going to die. She was the type of person that is always thinking of others."

In the darkest days that followed, Murina and a group of women came together through cooking and then one day unexpectedly Meghan arrived. She described the Duchess as "generous, modest and kind" with her "feet firmly on the ground".

 In her foreword for Together, Meghan recalled meeting Munira:

'On my first visit, I asked Munira, the resident chef de cuisine (so to speak), how I could help. An apron was quickly wrapped around me, I pushed up my sleeves, and I found myself washing the rice for lunch. Munira’s sister-in-law, who had flown in from Egypt after Grenfell to help the family, helped me divide the correct amount of butter and fresh thyme to pour into the pot of rice bubbling away on the stovetop. All the aromas percolating in a kitchen filled with countless languages aflutter remains one of my most treasured memories from my first visit to the kitchen.'

Proceeds from Together enabled the Hubb to open seven days per week and to educate the women and enable them to take their careers further. Munira successfully launched Kina Mama, which provides nutritious food to local mothers and their families. Kina Mama is Swahili for ‘the mothers’. The ethos of the business follows that of the Hubb - women supporting women through food. They cater for parties, private occasions, weddings and community gatherings. In a time of great need like this, Munira and her team are providing free meals for our National Health Service staff as they work tirelessly in the weeks and months ahead.

This is the ripple effect Meghan so often spoke of and just one example of why she should be so proud of the work she did in the UK.