National Theatre and charities’ patronages threatened by Megxit

Meghan Markle left National Theatre bosses fuming after ‘carrying on as normal’ and giving no hint her patronage could be under threat during visit… just hours before royal bombshell

Meghan Markle left National Theatre bosses fuming after ‘carrying on as normal’ and giving no hint her patronage could be under threat during a visit hours before she and Prince Harry dropped their royal bombshell.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced on Wednesday that they would step down as senior royals and live in Canada – a move that puts their 18 patronages under threat.

The news was posted on social media some six hours hours after Meghan’s midday visit to the London venue, leaving flummoxed bosses fearful that they could now be ‘abandoned’ after a 45-year partnership with the Royal Family.

Meghan Markle was seen on Wednesday leaving the Dorfman Theatre - which is part of the National Theatre - in London surrounded by her entourage

Meghan Markle was seen on Wednesday leaving the Dorfman Theatre – which is part of the National Theatre – in London surrounded by her entourage

One senior official at the venue told The Mirror there was a ‘lot of worry’ about whether the Duchess would ‘stick around’ following the announcement.

He added: ‘She was seen as the perfect advertisement, she appeals to a cross section of ages and genders and it was hoped she would be a real force for change in the industry. We hope she doesn’t abandon us.’

Meghan’s patronage of the National Theatre was handed to her by the Queen. She has three other sole patronages: The Association of Commonwealth Universities; women’s employment charity Smart Works; and Mayhew, an animal rescue centre.

Prince Harry holds 14 patronages, ranging from charities to several branches of the Armed Forces, including RAF Honington and the Royal Marines.

It is unclear what the future holds for these relationships after the Sussexes revealed plans for a new ‘charitable entity’ of their own.

On their new Sussex Royal website it states: ‘In 2020, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex plan to shape their charitable entity to respond to these pressing needs.

‘After carefully considering a number of foundation models, and having researched the incredible work of many well-known and lesser known foundations, The Duke and Duchess are actively working to create something different.’

Earlier this week, Rugby Football League chief executive Ralph Rimmer said he was ‘hopeful’ Harry would continue to support his organisation. 

He told Sky Sports: ‘He has been a superb patron from the moment he walked through the door two-and-a-half years ago.

‘As far as I understand, there will be some clarification, let’s see how his patronage works after that.

‘We haven’t had anything negative from the Palace with regard to our patronage but there are plenty of wheels turning, let’s see how it turns out. I’m very hopeful. From what I know – though all bets are off – I think his patronages will remain, but that could change.’ 

The news was posted on social media some six hours hours after Meghan's midday visit to the London venue

The news was posted on social media some six hours hours after Meghan’s midday visit to the London venue

Meghan and Harry claim the ‘geographic balance’ between Britain, Canada and the USA will facilitate the launch of their charitable foundation.

The issue of patronages is one of a range of areas that will need to be decided upon in the coming days and weeks.

The Daily Mail front page on the day after the bombshell announcement

The Daily Mail front page on the day after the bombshell announcement 

On Monday, Prince Harry met the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William for crunch talks at Sandringham to discuss his future relationship with the Royal Family. Meghan was unable to attend because she was in Canada.

Following the meeting, the Queen released a statement saying she had agreed to a ‘period of transition’ for the couple during which plans for their future could be hammered out.

She said: ‘Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more inde­pendent life.’

Harry is expected to return to Canada later this week to join his wife and Archie in the £14m Vancouver mansion where they are currently being hosted.

A spokesman for the National Theatre said: ‘The Duchess of Sussex attended a private meeting with Rufus Norris (artistic director) and Lisa Burger (executive director) where they had very positive discussions about the NT’s upcoming activity and engagement opportunities for the Duchess to engage with the work over the coming year.

‘There was no discussion in the meeting about the subsequent announcement made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex which was issued several hours after the meeting had concluded.’ 

Which charities do the Sussexes support?

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex 

Mayhew, animal welfare charity 

Role: Patron 

Smart Works, women’s charity

Role: Patron

The Royal National Theatre

Role: Patron 

The Association of Commonwealth Universities

Role: Patron 

Harry, Duke of Sussex

African Parks

Role: President

Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund, child poverty in Uganda

Role: Joint patron

Map Action, map service for humanitarian disasters

Role: Royal patron

Rhino Conservation Botswana

Role: Honorary life member

Rugby Football Union

Role: Patron

Rugby Football League

Role: Patron

Rugby Football Union All Schools Programme 

Rugby Football Union Injured Players Foundation

Role: Patron

Sentebale, Lesotho children’s charity

Role: Patron

Commonwealth

Role: Youth ambassador

Dolen Cymru, Wales-Lesotho links

Role: Patron

RAF Honington

Role: Honorary Air Commandant

Royal Marines

Role: Captain General 

Royal Naval Command

Role: Commodore-in-chief of small ships and diving

Royal Ontario Museum

Role: Honorary life member

London Marathon

Role: Patron

Wellchild, sick children’s charity

Role: Patron

Duke and Duchess of Sussex

The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Role: Founder patrons

The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust

Role: President and vice-president  

 

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