Prince Harry and Meghan 'hoping' to move to Africa for 6 months
Royals / 24 April 2019, 11:24am / REBECCA ENGLISH ROYAL CORRESPONDENT
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex hope to take a six-month 'secondment' to Africa in the next few years.
Planning for the move is still in the 'brainstorming' stage, it was stressed, and there have been no formal discussions outside the palace walls, but one source described it as a ‘likely scenario’.
The revelation came as Harry joined other members of the Royal Family at church on Easter Sunday, which also marked the Queen’s 93rd birthday.
Reports of Harry and Meghan’s 'Out of Africa' project first surfaced yesterday in The Sunday Times, which quoted a source as saying that courtiers had drawn up plans to send the royal ‘rock stars’ abroad 'for two to three years', combining their jobs as Commonwealth ambassadors with charity work and a role promoting Britain. It said the proposal would afford them a break from the divisions that have arisen between Harry and his brother William in recent months, while 'harnessing' the Sussexes' global appeal.
The Daily Mail understands that while there have been tensions between the princes and their wives Kate and Meghan, the idea of a foreign sabbatical is something Harry has wanted to pursue for many years, focusing on issues around conservation, the environment and education.
It was also claimed that plans to make Harry a governor-general in somewhere such as Australia or Canada had already been rejected, but that William and his private secretary, Simon Case, were behind this new scheme to put some distance between himself and the globally popular Sussexes.
"People are telling William, 'Don’t worry. Your influence will grow and Harry’s will fade. This is peak Harry.'" the source told The Sunday Times.
Harry’s wife, Meghan, was notably absent from church as she is expecting the couple's first baby any day now. However, the Queen – already the longest-serving British monarch in history – beamed as she was cheered by well-wishers as she arrived at St George’s Chapel in Windsor.
In all, 16 members of the Royal Family were among the 800-strong congregation, including Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Princess Beatrice and the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their children. While the royal party were taking their seats, the organist played Happy Birthday.
Sources claimed the Sussexes' advisers are working on Harry and Meghan’s 'bespoke' African role with the help of Sir David Manning, a former ambassador to the US, and Lord Geidt, the Queen’s former private secretary who chairs the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.
Botswana – which Harry has previously described as his ‘second home’ – is one of the countries that has been suggested, as well as Malawi and South Africa. It would almost certainly be a Commonwealth country as the Queen appointed her grandson one of its youth ambassadors last year and sees him as an important proponent of her legacy.
"Some early conversations have taken place in a very informal way," a source revealed on Saturday. "At the moment, this is very speculative. There haven’t been formal conversations with anyone from Commonwealth countries or governments. But his team are starting to scope out a long-term planning strategy for the Sussexes and there is a good chance this is a scenario that could work."
The source stressed that a long-term foreign posting was unlikely, but that something along the lines of an extended royal visit would be more appropriate. "It’s more likely to involve them going somewhere for a couple of months, rather than moving somewhere," they said.
"When you look at the duke’s focus on environmental issues, it’s a great opportunity to go and work in a more in-depth way in one place. It’s an invaluable chance to be on the ground and do some hands-on conservation work, rather than undertake the 'traditional' royal tour model.
"The Sussexes don’t have the constitutional constraints that William and Kate have, so they have a little more flexibility to explore and be creative, while being respectful of the constraints of the institution."
Buckingham Palace at the weekend: "Any future plans for the duke and duchess are speculative at this stage. No decisions have been taken about future roles."