This morning, Buckingham Palace confirmed that Prince Harry and Meghan will not return as working royals, and that their patronages with ties to the royal family will be returned. Meghan will no longer be patron of the Royal National Theatre and the Association of Commonwealth Universities, but she will continue to serve as patron of the animal welfare charity Mayhew and Smart Works, an organization, which helps women to succeed at job interviews.
Original 1/10/2019: The past year has been full of firsts for the Duchess of Sussex, and today, she took a huge step forward in her role as a working member of the royal family. This morning, Meghan announced that she is to become the patron of four charities: the National Theatre, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, Mayhew, and Smart Works.
"Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex will become Patron of four organisations that reflect the causes and issues with which she has long been associated including the arts, access to education, support for women and animal welfare," reads the official announcement.
It also clarified that two of the patronages would be given to her by the Queen and two would be entirely new.
"Her Majesty The Queen has passed on two patronages to The Duchess of Sussex –The National Theatre and The Association of Commonwealth Universities. The Queen has held the roles for 45 and 33 years respectively," reads the statement. "Her Royal Highness will also take on Patronage of two additional charities as part of her official working portfolio – Smart Works and Mayhew."
The organizations chosen clearly represent Meghan's interests, and help to set the tone for kind of philanthropic work the Duchess plans to take on over the course of her lifetime.
"I think these four organizations encompass many of the things that Meghan is passionate about," royal reporter Victoria Murphy tells Town & Country. "They also reflect her existing interests and experiences as well."
Murphy also sees the Queen's decision to give Meghan two of her patronages as an "endorsement" of her work thus far.
"I think the fact that two of Meghan's patronages have been given to her by the Queen so early on in her royal career—especially ones that the Queen has held for a very long time—is definitely an endorsement of Meghan’s work within the family."
Today, Meghan visited one of her new patronages, Smart Works, for the first time publicly.
The Sunday Times reported late last year that Meghan plans to visit each of the announced organizations before taking her maternity leave later this spring following the birth of her first child.
Katie Nicholl has also reported that the Duchess plans to work well into her pregnancy. Per her recent story in Vanity Fair, "Meghan has told aides she wants to work as close to her due date next spring as possible."
Here's a bit more about each of the charities of Meghan has chosen to highlight:
London's National Theatre
Meghan succeeding Queen Elizabeth as the royal patron of London's National Theatre was hardly a well-kept secret. Rumors that she would take on the role, started earlier this month, when the Daily Mail reported that the Queen had decided to give Meghan the position. The organization itself also accidentally broke the news yesterday ahead of the announcement with a post on their website:
Whoops! Looks like the first patronage "secret" is officially official thanks to the National Theatre's IT department 😂 "The Duchess of Sussex announced as our new Royal Patron" pic.twitter.com/h8ysbfsOkP
— Hannah Furness (@Hannah_Furness) January 9, 2019
The appointment doesn't come as too much of a surprise given Meghan's acting background. She also reportedly met privately with Rufus Norris, the artistic director of the National Theatre late last year.
This morning's statement focused on Meghan's belief in "using the arts to bring people from different backgrounds and communities together."
It continued, "The National Theatre’s mission is to make world class theatre that’s entertaining, challenging and inspiring – and to make it for everyone. It aims to reach the widest possible audience and to be as inclusive, diverse and national as possible with a broad range of productions that play in London, on tour around the UK, on Broadway and across the globe."
We are honoured to announce that Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex has become our Royal Patron.
We would like to thank The Queen, our previous Royal Patron, for Her Majesty’s unwavering support and service to the National Theatre.
More: https://t.co/OH8Ng5ub8d pic.twitter.com/tssGhhx17o
— National Theatre (@NationalTheatre) January 10, 2019
The Association of Commonwealth Universities
In addition to the National Theatre, the Queen has also given Meghan the patronage of the Association of Commonwealth Universities. Per Kensington Palace, the ACU is "he world's first and oldest international university network, and the only org representing higher education across all 53 Commonwealth countries."
Given Prince Harry's role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, this new patronage only further suggests that the Sussexes will be focusing attention on the Commonwealth in the months to come.
Of the news, Dr. Joanna Newman, the ACU's chief executive and secretary general said, "We are absolutely delighted that HRH The Duchess of Sussex has chosen to become Patron of the ACU. The Duchess shares our passion for the transformational power of higher education, and Her Royal Highness' support will help champion higher education as a force for good in the Commonwealth and beyond. We would like to thank Her Majesty The Queen for her support, and we look forward to working closely with The Duchess as our Patron."
We are honoured to announce that HRH The Duchess of Sussex will become the Royal Patron of Smart Works. The Duchess’s decision to support Smart Works reflects her passion in supporting women, and her commitment will help women in need across the UK 📸 Phil Noble pic.twitter.com/yFGXztbFXn
— Smart Works Charity (@SmartWorksHQ) January 10, 2019
Mayhew focuses on one of the Duchess's clear interests: animal welfare. Kensington Palace reports that the group is a "grassroots charity working in a unique way to improve the lives of animals and people to better communities both in London and internationally."
"We're honoured to reveal that Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex has become a Patron of Mayhew," reads a tweet from the group this morning. "We're thrilled that HRH shares our commitment to improving the lives of animals and people, and are excited to make a difference together."
We're honoured to reveal that Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex has become a Patron of Mayhew. 💜
We're thrilled that HRH shares our commitment to improving the lives of animals and people, and are excited to make a difference together. 💜@KensingtonRoyal pic.twitter.com/tJAmMbKS06
— Mayhew 🐶🐱 (@themayhew) January 10, 2019
This London-based organization offers support to unemployed women, assisting them with interview coaching and clothing to help in their career search. According to the Royal Family's website, Meghan has been working with them privately for months ahead of the official announcement.
"The Duchess has visited Smart Works several times over the last year where she has worked with many women who have benefited from the charity’s support, helping them through coaching and interview preparation," reads the official statement.
Following the news of Meghan's patronage, Juliet Hughes-Hallett, chair and founder of Smart Works, said, “An acknowledged champion of women and their rights worldwide, The Duchess will motivate ever more women to come to our centres and get the job that will transform their lives.”
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