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 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
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 ‘all bets were off’ over whether Prince Harry would continue to support his organisation, despite saying he was ‘hopeful’.
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
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
Smart Works, women’s charity
The Royal National Theatre
The Association of Commonwealth Universities
Harry, Duke of Sussex
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
Rugby Football League
Rugby Football Union All Schools Programme
Rugby Football Union Injured Players Foundation
Sentebale, Lesotho children’s charity
Role: Youth ambassador
Dolen Cymru, Wales-Lesotho links
Role: Honorary Air Commandant
Role: Captain General
Royal Naval Command
Role: Commodore-in-chief of small ships and diving
Royal Ontario Museum
Role: Honorary life member
Wellchild, sick children’s charity
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