Duchess of Sussex to succeed Queen as royal patron of the National Theatre
She is the Hollywood starlet who has found her greatest part as the most glamorous member of the Royal Family.
Now the Duchess of Sussex is set to take over the regal role of patron of the National Theatre from the Queen, The Mail on Sunday has learned.
According to Palace sources, Her Majesty has made the decision that Meghan should be given the coveted position as a mark of her growing confidence in the Duchess. It is understood the appointment will be announced in the next few days.
Last month, Meghan had a private meeting with Rufus Norris, the director of the National Theatre, and, according to sources, they discussed plans for her role.
Palace insiders believe Meghan’s career as an actress makes her a ‘natural fit’ for the position. She starred in US legal drama Suits for seven years and studied theatre at Northwestern University.
The handover from the Queen will lower the curtain on an association going back decades. Founded by Sir Laurence Olivier in 1963, the National first had its home at the Old Vic theatre, but relocated to its current home on the South Bank in 1976. One part of Meghan’s job will be strengthening connections between the theatre and American benefactors, and the hope is the Duchess will add a ‘Meghan dividend’.
The National Theatre has an office in New York and many of the company’s most successful productions have opened to rave reviews on Broadway.
Part of the role will see Meghan becoming involved with The American Associates of the National Theatre – a New York-based charity which contributes more than £3million a year to supporting the National’s work.
Rufus Norris, who succeeded Sir Nicholas Hytner as director of the National Theatre in 2015 and who lived in Ethiopia, Malaysia and Nigeria as a child, is said to be acutely aware of promoting openness to different cultures.
Until now, however, he hasn’t openly courted the theatre’s connection to the Royal Family, saying last year that the National did not use the ‘Royal’ prefix for fear of being considered elitist.
He said: ‘This country is still very class divided and anything that adds to that perception, that this place is not open to everybody, could be a downfall.’
This year Mr Norris is set to direct a stage adaptation of Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel Small Island which traces the evolution of four characters whose lives are affected by a move from Jamaica to London during World War II. Among its many themes, the play explores racism, an interracial relationship and a move to a new country. Sources say Meghan’s own story perfectly complements the play and marks a new direction for the theatre.
The Duchess, who has been outspoken about the racism her mother Doria experienced, is said to have bonded with Mr Norris. She has taken a great interest in the arts since moving to Britain. Meghan and Harry attended a benefit performance of the hit musical Hamilton to support Harry’s charity Sentebale. Before Christmas, she made a visit to Brinsworth House which supports former artists and entertainers at a residential home. She also attended the Royal Variety Performance in November.
Palace sources said Meghan has been holding various private meetings with organisations that tie in with her charitable and humanitarian interests. She is expected to begin work with these groups before taking leave to give birth to her first child later this year.
Cate Blanchett is due to star at the National this year in the opening of When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other and next year the theatre will debut Lenny Henry in a one-man play about Richard Pryor.
Both the National and the Palace declined to comment.
© Mail On Sunday