The Duke and Duchess of Sussex today set out their goal to ‘build a better world’ in an open letter on the updated website of their non-profit organisation Archewell, saying they wanted to ‘unleash the power of compassion’.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle used two photographs on the new homepage of Archewell.com – one of Harry as a boy with his mother, the late Princess Diana; and one of Meghan as a girl with her mother, Doria Ragland.
The couple said in a joint statement on the website: ‘I am my mother’s son. And I am our son’s mother.’ However there was no mention or photo of Harry’s father Prince Charles or Meghan’s estranged father Thomas Markle.
Harry and Meghan wrote that the name of their organisation is a mixture of the Greek word ‘Arche’, meaning ‘source of action’, and the word ‘Well’, defined as ‘a plentiful source or supply; a place we go to dig deep’.
The royal couple also announced partnerships between their foundation and several tech and research-focused groups. They wrote: ‘At Archewell, we unleash the power of compassion to drive systemic cultural change.
‘We do this through our non-profit work within Archewell Foundation 501(c)(3), in addition to creative activations through the business verticals of audio and production.’
The website features a picture of Diana with Harry on her shoulders, taken at Highgrove in July 1986, while in another monochrome image a young Meghan stands as her mother Doria crouches down to hug her daughter.
In a joint statement, called a ‘letter for 2021’ which overlays the pictures, the couple say: ‘I am my mother’s son. And I am our son’s mother. Together we bring you Archewell. We believe in the best of humanity.
‘Because we have seen the best of humanity. We have experienced compassion and kindness, From our mothers and strangers alike. In the face of fear, struggle and pain, it can be easy to lose sight of this.
‘Together, we can choose courage, healing, and connection. Together, we can choose to put compassion in action. We invite you to join us. As we work to build a better world. One act of compassion at a time.’
The website carried this picture of Princess Diana carrying Prince Harry on her shoulders at Highgrove on July 18, 1986
Among the five organisations Harry and Meghan said they have chosen to support include the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University, which they say is investigating techniques for ‘developing compassion and promoting altruism within individuals and society’.
Another is the Center for Humane Technology in San Francisco led by former Google ‘design ethicist’ Tristan Harris which aims to ‘create the conditions for safer, more compassionate online communities’.
Which five organisations are backed by Archewell?
Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education: The research group at Stanford University is investigating techniques for ‘developing compassion and promoting altruism within individuals and society’.
Center for Humane Technology: The organisation in San Francisco is led by former Google ‘design ethicist’ Tristan Harris and aims to ‘create the conditions for safer, more compassionate online communities’.
The Loveland Foundation: The organisation is providing affordable and accessible mental health resources to black women and girls.
The Center for Critical Internet Inquiry: The department at the University of California in Los Angeles aims to champion racial and economic justice in the tech sector.
World Central Kitchen: The project by chef José Andrés (right) is building four community relief centres in regions hit by hunger, starting in Dominica and Puerto Rico.
A third is the Loveland Foundation, which is an organisation providing affordable and accessible mental health resources to black women and girls.
Archewell is also supporting the Center for Critical Internet Inquiry at the University of California in Los Angeles, which aims to champion racial and economic justice in the technology world.
The final organisation is chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen, which is building four community relief centres in regions affected by hunger, starting in Dominica and Puerto Rico.
The updated website is Harry and Meghan’s final act of a year which has seen the royal family endure some of their most turbulent problems in recent history – with the messy Megxit saga at the forefront of the issues.
The Duke and Duchess sparked a major royal crisis in January with a bombshell statement saying they intended to stop being senior royals, earn their own money and still support the Queen.
But the dual role was unworkable. The Queen held a summit at Sandringham to deal with the crisis and the outcome was a hard Megxit.
At the end of March, less than two years after they wed, Harry and Meghan quit as working royals completely and stopped using their HRH styles.
They have since settled into a new life in Montecito in California, bought an £11 million house, secured lucrative multimillion-pound deals with Netflix and Spotify, volunteered during the Covid-19 crisis and been working on their Archewell foundation.
Meghan gave an impassioned black lives matter speech to her old high school about the death of George Floyd in the US. But controversy has not been far away.
Harry was criticised for political interference after he urged people in the US to ‘reject hate speech’ and vote in the presidential election.
The duke and duchess were also accused of staging a publicity stunt after they invited a fashion photographer to take pictures of them at a national cemetery in LA to mark Remembrance Sunday.
In August, a new biography, Finding Freedom by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, revisited the rift between Harry and William.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are pictured with their son Archie while visiting Cape Town in September 2019
The book said Harry was angered by what he perceived as his brother’s ‘snobbish’ attitude to Meghan, and Kate was accused of not reaching out to Meghan and of snubbing her at the Sussexes’ final public engagement at Westminster Abbey.
The Sussexes’ son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor celebrated his first birthday, with Meghan reading the boisterous youngster the children’s book Duck! Rabbit! in a video for Save the Children UK.
But the couple also experienced heartache, with Meghan revealing in an article in November that she had suffered a miscarriage in the summer, writing: ‘I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second.’
Earlier this week, Harry and Meghan released their debut Spotify podcast on Tuesday which saw them chat about ‘the power of connection’, ’empathy’ and ‘collective mental health’.
But one simple word stole the show – ‘fun’, uttered by their 19-month-old son. When Archie’s voice – complete with a slight American accent – at the end of the 34-minute broadcast.
It was the first time the public had heard him speak. Harry and Meghan encouraged him to talk into a microphone, with Harry telling him: ‘You can speak into it.’ Meghan also asked: ‘Archie, is it fun?’
Archie then replied: ‘Fun.’ Harry said: ‘After me, ready? Happy.’ Archie said: ‘Happy.’ Meghan and Harry both then said ‘New’ and Archie said ‘New Year’ – prompting laughter from his parents and giggles from the youngster himself.
The couple have fiercely defended Archie’s privacy. They refused to confirm where he was born or who his godparents were. They have also launched legal action against photographers who took unauthorised pictures of him in the US and Canada.
Finding Freedom, the controversial biography of the Sussexes published in August, reported that Meghan had complained she was being expected to ‘serve my child on a silver platter’ after the couple faced criticism over keeping his christening a secret.
Harry and Meghan recently signed an estimated £18million deal with Spotify after acrimoniously quitting as working members of the royal family in March.
This week their first offering was billed as the ‘2020 Archewell Audio Holiday Special’ with the blurb underneath saying: ‘Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, present a special collection of inspiration, reflection, and perspective from guests around the world.’
The guests – or ‘a few friends’ as the couple called them in the podcast – included Sir Elton John and James Corden. There were also Tyler Perry, the Hollywood tycoon who lent Harry and Meghan his £14.5million mansion when they first moved to LA, Democrat activist Stacey Abrams, Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka and British rapper George the Poet.
The podcast began with the couple introducing themselves as ‘I’m Harry’ and ‘I’m Meghan’ before they paid tribute to healthcare and frontline workers for their efforts during the pandemic.
Harry told listeners: ‘We’re glad you’re here. As we all know, it’s been a year. And we really want to honour the compassion and kindness that has helped so many people get through it.’
Meghan added: ‘And at the same time, to honour those who have experienced uncertainty and unthinkable loss. Our thoughts have been with you.’
As the year neared its end, Harry said, it was time to ‘look to the future’, adding: ‘Let’s hold on to the lessons we’ve learned about how important it is to take care of one another, and how meaningful our connections are… even when they’re physically impossible.’
Harry explained they had asked guests to send them audio diaries. ‘We were curious to hear what they’d reflect on when they had a moment to themselves without navigating the sometimes awkward dance of a video chat.
‘Meaning no one having to say you’re on mute over and over again, which is probably one of the defining phrases of 2020,’ he said. Meghan, laughing, added: ‘So true.’
Near the end, Meghan said: ‘From us I’ll say no matter what life throws at you guys, trust us when we say, love wins.’ Harry then said: ‘Love always wins.’
They included the gospel song This Little Light of Mine, which was played at their wedding.
Quoting Martin Luther King, Meghan said: ‘It was the music that we wanted playing when we started our lives together. Because as we all know, ‘darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that’.’
Harry added: ‘The message of this song is one we hold so dearly. It’s about using the power we each have within us to make this world a better place.’
Also this week, it was revealed the Duke and Duchess had boosted their rapidly expanding stable of staff by rehiring two palace aides who lost their jobs when the royal couple left the UK.
In recent months Harry and Meghan have made a series of key appointments to head Archewell as well as starting their own in-house PR outfit.
Now, they have employed ex-palace staff Clara Loughran and Beth Herlihy on a freelance basis to work on charity projects in the UK.
The pair, both in their 30s, lost their jobs in March when Harry and Meghan moved to North America. Their appointment is in addition to the couple’s UK PR chief, James Holt.
With a string of new employees in the US as well, including a head of communications, a press secretary and a chief of staff, industry experts say the bill for the couple’s team so far could easily top £1million a year.
This does not include PAs, staff working on their production and podcast ventures, household employees and private security.
New Zealand-born Mrs Loughran, who is married to Harry’s ex-assistant communications secretary, Nick Loughran, had worked for the prince since 2015, organising his official engagements and charitable initiatives.
She was made a Member of the Royal Victorian Order – an honour given to those who have served the monarchy with dedication in a personal capacity – by the Queen, on Harry’s recommendation.
Miss Herlihy worked as the Sussexes programme manager from September 2018. She had also worked alongside Harry for more than four years as an events co-ordinator at the Royal Foundation, first started by Harry and the Duke of Cambridge.
She and Mrs Loughran were among 13 plus tax-payer-funded employees who lost their jobs in March when Harry and Meghan quit royal duties.
Recently, the two well-respected women formed Herlihy Loughran, which describes itself as an ‘advisory partnership’ that links ‘influential people’ and organisations to good causes.
Harry and Meghan are among their first clients, sources confirmed. They have been employed in addition to Mr Holt.
Last month it was announced that the Sussexes had snapped up Christine Weil Schirmer, 42, former head of communications at internet site Pinterest, to lead their PR assault on the US.
The mother-of-one attended the same US university as Meghan, Northwestern.
They have also appointed a press secretary. Toya Holness has worked for the celebrity William Morris Endeavor agency. A ‘stellar’ footballer who played for her university team in California, she is described by friends as ‘bold and outgoing’.
The Sussexes had already poached another major figure, Catherine St Laurent, as their chief of staff. She is also the executive director of Archewell, which is expected to launch in the new year after months of delays.
Miss St Laurent had been responsible for Melinda Gates’s profile and communications activities at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Industry experts said the wage bill for the three US appointments alone was unlikely to be any less than £650,000-a-year plus benefits.
PR expert Mark Borkowski said the extent of the new appointments proved the ‘global’ ambitions of the couple.
‘There’s clearly a big operation being set up there. What will be interesting to see is whether these [new] people challenge the way [the couple] go about things,’ he said.
‘The focus on them is pretty relentless and they clearly want to change the established narrative around them now they are trying to launch themselves in America.’