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February 15, 2020

Harry, Meghan to close Buckingham Palace office, cut staff

World

P
Pa
February 15, 2020

LONDON: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are closing their Buckingham Palace office and cutting staff as they transition away from royal life.

Harry and Meghan are due to officially start their new life outside royal duties in the spring of this year. It is understood that while details of the office closure are still being finalised, and despite efforts to redeploy people to other jobs, there will be redundancies.

The job losses could number 15 and staff were notified last month, the Daily Mail reported. The Sussexes are living in Canada with their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor as they prepare to drop their HRH styles and quit the monarchy in favour of financial freedom. They had initially hoped for a dual role, supporting the Queen, the Commonwealth and Harry’s military associations, but the idea was deemed unworkable. Staff affected are reported to include Marnie Gaffney, who was made a member of the Royal Victoria Order in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours in her role as assistant communications secretary. Others named by the Daily Mail are Sara Latham, a former senior adviser on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 US presidential campaign, and Julie Burley, who had worked as a senior communications officer with Harry before he was married.

Both Ms Gaffney and Ms Burley were part of the team who took part in the couple’s Africa tour last autumn and have spent a number of years serving the royal family in the press office.

Ms Latham was appointed to the role of head of communications when Harry and Meghan’s household split from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge last year. She handled press around Archie’s birth and the ITV documentary in which the couple spoke about the pressures of royal life. The Sussexes reportedly increased security at their rented mansion in North Saanich, Vancouver Island, earlier this month. It followed a survey finding more than three quarters of Canadians feel their country should not foot the couple’s security bill. Last week, during the Sussexes’ first event since announcing they will leave the royal family, Harry revealed he has been in therapy for the past few years coping with the loss of his mother. He told a JP Morgan-sponsored alternative investment summit in Florida he did not want his wife and son to experience what he went through when he was younger.

It is not known if the duke was paid for the appearance but it was speculated he could have received a fee worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. Royal watchers will be waiting to see whether Harry and Meghan, who are president and vice-president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, will put in an appearance at the annual Commonwealth Day service with the royal family at Westminster Abbey in London on March 9.