Harry and Meghan have hired a new communications director, Sara Latham, 48
Public relations is not a job for the faint-hearted, but even seasoned practitioners of the spin-doctoring arts might hesitate to take on the Duke and
The royal couple are, after all, taking a step into the unknown as they and the Duke and
And Harry and Meghan’s recent public utterances suggest they have a radically different vision of their future to the royal tradition.
Those who foresaw Meghan forging a more star-studded, international and high-profile role for her and her husband than merely opening libraries and handing out bravery awards may be starting to think they are right.
For the Sussexes have now recruited a high-powered and impeccably well-connected communications director who has worked not only for Bill and Hillary Clinton but also Tony Blair.
Like the Duchess, Sara Latham is an American who has acquired dual US-UK citizenship. She also enjoys a reputation as a wily political operator with deep roots in the Democrat and New Labour camps.
Ms Latham is an American with duel citizenship and has her roots in the Democrat party and New Labour. She has worked with Tony Blair,
She was brought in to help choreograph Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996, helped to sneak in Barack Obama’s proposed Cabinet nominations for secret interviews after his election in 2008, and helped prepare Hillary Clinton for the White House as part of what was described as her ‘covert operations team’.
There may have been an added attraction for what appears to have been a selection made by the duchess, rather than Prince Harry.
She hasn’t hidden her loathing of Donald Trump, describing him on US TV as ‘misogynistic’ and publicly supporting Mrs Clinton’s rival presidential campaign.
Appointing a PR chief with a long-standing link to the Clintons – who of course Mr Trump hates – may be seen as a snub to the president.
Sources say the couple met Miss Latham, 48, only this year and were immediately drawn to her ‘firm but fair approach’. It is possible they were introduced via the duchess’s Hollywood friend George Clooney, whose wife Amal attended Meghan’s recent – and lavish – ‘baby shower’ festivities in New York.
Clooney was involved in raising funds for the Hillary campaign.
A former colleague yesterday described Miss Latham as ‘very smart and very good at dealing with difficult characters’. She is, he added, ‘very diplomatically adept’ and ‘not in it for the money’.
It is estimated she is on a salary of £140,000 which is relatively modest for what she could be earning in the corporate sector. Miss Latham had recently rejoined the London PR firm, Freuds, as its managing partner.
Ms Latham was brought in to help choreograph Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996, helped to sneak in Barack Obama’s proposed Cabinet nominations for secret interviews after his election in 2008, and helped prepare Hillary Clinton for the White House as part of what was described as her ‘covert operations team’
Reporting to the Queen’s press secretary Donal McCabe, Miss Latham will start her new job in the spring; the couple’s baby is rumoured to be expected next month.
Miss Latham will no doubt be paid as much as the palace could afford but spinning for the Sussexes would be no job for an amateur.
She seems to have risen effortlessly through the political and corporate worlds in a career that has seen her repeatedly assist global figures including allies of the Clintons and Tony Blair.
After being brought in for Bill Clinton’s successful 1996 re-election campaign, she worked as special assistant to Mr Clinton’s chief of staff, John Podesta.
Between 1996 and 2000, Miss Latham held other White House roles including deputy assistant to the president and, until 2000, deputy director of presidential scheduling. That position brought her close to the then-first lady.
After George W Bush won the 2000 presidential election, she moved to Brussels as a government affairs adviser for software giant Microsoft.
The next year, she moved again, this time to London to become managing director of Philip Gould Associates, the PR firm set up by the late Lord Gould, the former Labour strategy and polling adviser who was close to Tony Blair.
The Blair connection must have helped her move to Freud Communications in 2002. Its founder, Matthew Freud, was not only an ally of Mr Blair, but also had strong Democrat links.
In 2005, she was seconded to work for Labour’s general election campaign, after which she was appointed as special adviser to Tessa Jowell, Mr Blair’s culture secretary – just as the department learned London would host the 2012 Olympics.
Miss Latham left the Government in 2006 to set up her own consultancy. Naturally, her clients reflected her high-level contacts and included the Clinton Foundation and Tony Blair Associates as well as Coca-Cola and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
The shake-up comes as Harry and Meghan prepare for their move away from Kensington Palace to Frogmore Cottage (pictured) on the Windsor Castle estate
In 2008, she returned to Washington DC – after a farewell party at a trendy Mayfair bar – to work again for the Democrats.
This time she was employed by Barack Obama as he prepared to enter the White House. He had, of course, defeated her old boss Hillary Clinton in a heated battle for the Democrat nomination.
But the Clintons endorsed Mr Obama at the party’s 2008 convention, urging supporters to vote for him.
An expert, it appears, at helping politicians ‘transition’ into power, Miss Latham doesn’t hang around long in government – nor anywhere else, it seems.
By 2011 she had returned to the corporate world as non-executive chairman of iEnergizer, a supplier of ‘back-office’ services to banks which is run by multimillionaire Anil Agarwal.
Even in business, she did not allow her political links to wither, and was described in a 2012 report as the ‘go-to girl for top Democrats visiting London’. Miss Latham reportedly advised Michelle Obama on which restaurants to visit in the UK.
The year after it was back to politics to join Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president. Miss Latham was appointed chief of staff to John Podesta, now chairman of Mrs Clinton’s campaign.
A presidential candidate’s selection of running mate is an enormously sensitive operation. John McCain discovered this when he disastrously chose Sarah Palin in 2009 and internal staff tensions were leaked to the media.
Mrs Clinton was determined that shouldn’t happen again and Miss Latham was asked to oversee a VP selection process that was shrouded in secrecy.
As part of a ‘covert operations team’, Miss Latham marshalled reports drawn up by 15 law firms asked to vet candidates. She then printed them out in secret and posted them to Mrs Clinton.
As Mrs Clinton flew with Senator Tim Kaine – her eventual choice – to the Florida rally where she would break the news, Miss Latham lightened the mood by persuading him to pull out his harmonica. He obliged, playing a Beatles tune.
Confident she would win comfortably, Mrs Clinton appointed Miss Latham one of three aides to oversee ‘transition planning’ for her new administration.
That particular transition, of course, was never to happen.
Sara Latham likes to move on regularly in her career. One hopes for the duke and duchess’s sake she hangs around long enough to handle their often shifting public image.