Duke and Duchess of Susswith ex reveal 2019 Christmas card, Archie taking centre stage

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have released their 2019 Christmas card, featuring their young son Archie.  The card, which was sent to friends and colleagues on Monday, includes a picture of the Duke and Duchess with their seven-month-old son crawling towards the camera with the message “Merry Christmas and a happy new year”, adding “from our family to yours”.

The photo was reportedly taken by the Duchess’ friend Janina Gavankar, an American actress and musician, who attended the couple’s Windsor Castle wedding in May 2018. The card was released on Twitter by the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust Twitter account, along with the caption: “Just sharing the sweetest Christmas Card from our President and Vice-President, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Very Merry Christmas, everyone!”

The family of three are currently on a six week sabbatical in Canada, where the Duchess filmed the US series Suits, and will not join other senior royals at Sandringham for Christmas.


Gareth Thomas hails support of Prince Harry and the Royal Family after revealing HIV diagnosis

Gareth Thomas has hailed the “magnificent” support he has received from the Royal Family since revealing he had been blackmailed into revealing his HIV status. The former Wales rugby captain singled out the Duke of Sussex, who is praised for helping to break down the stigma of HIV by using  his “global platform” to help those suffering in silence. Thomas, who recently revealed he had been keeping his HIV positive diagnosis a secret for years, said the Duke’s willingness to get tested in public was an “unbelievably brave” and “bold thing to do”. He was joined by the Duke at the Twickenham Stoop, home of Premiership Rugby club Harlequins on Friday, as he was named an HIV Commissioner with the new HIV Commission, which aims to eradicate transmission of the virus in England by 2030.

The Duke, who has twice publicly taken HIV tests, had previously contacted Thomas to tell him he was “proud” of the way he had shared his news to empower others and the pair have kept in touch. The Duke of Cambridge has also paid tribute to the way he conducted himself, describing the 45-year-old as “courageous” and a “legend” on and off the pitch. Thomas said today that going public with living with HIV had been “very empowering” and admitted he “could never have dreamed” of being at an HIV testing event at a rugby club ten years ago. “The support from the royals has been magnificent,” he added. “And it’s not just for me, it’s to show that we accept people living with HIV and that carries an enormous weight. “Harry having public tests for HIV is incredibly powerful, with his reach, a global reach, is something that will reach the corners of the globe and communities that are marginalised who need support from all of us.”

The Duke was presented with a miniature Harlequins kit for his six-month-old son Archie as the pair posed for photographs ahead of National HIV Testing Week, which runs from November 16-22. He has long advocated the importance of HIV testing. When tested live on Facebook two years ago, to demonstrate how simple it was, the Terrence Higgins Trust reported a five-fold increase in orders for test kits. He was tested again alongside Rihanna, the singer, in Barbados to mark World Aids Day a few months later, in December 2016. In a video released on Twitter in September, Thomas, the former wing for Wales and the Lions, said he had been forced to reveal his status because others were threatening to do so. He said: “I want to share my secret with you. Why? Because it’s mine to tell you. Not the evils that make my life hell, threatening to tell you before I do, and because I believe in you and I trust you.”

His voice almost breaking, Thomas added: “I’m living with HIV. Now you have that information that makes me extremely vulnerable, but it does not make me weak.” The rugby player admitted that he had sobbed in the arms of a doctor, fearing he would die and felt suicidal. But he said he had “chosen to fight to educate and break the stigma” around the virus. He has also revealed that his husband Stephen, whom he met after his diagnosis and married three years ago, does not have HIV. Thomas later said that the Duke of Sussex had texted him out of the blue to tell him he was “proud” of the way he had shared his news to empower others. The HIV Commission was created by the Terrence Higgins Trust and the National AIDS Trust and will be chaired by Dame Inga Beale, former CEO of Lloyd’s of London. The year-long independent commission, backed by the Government, will host a series of community events, a public online consultation and a national call for evidence from those directly impacted by HIV. It will publish its recommendations next spring, which the Government has committed to review. Thomas said he was “unbelievably honoured” to be named an HIV commissioner.


Harry and Meghan’s Sussex title was ‘unfairly acquired’ and should be ignored, Brighton and Hove council to consider.

The Sussex title held by Harry and Meghan was “unfairly acquired” and should be ignored, a bizarre debate due to come before Brighton and Hove council will hear on Thursday. Councillors are expected to consider a petition demanding the local authority boycotts the Royal couple’s title after thousands of people supported the cause online. Written on behalf of “residents of Brighton and Hove”, it calls on the council to reject “the usage” of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex title, which is “disrespectful to the county of East Sussex”. The Dukedom held by Harry is said to be “entirely non-democratic” and “symbolic of the oppression of the general public by the wealthy elite”.

After a meteoric rise, the petition has become the third most-supported online in the council’s history, with 3,800 signatures. But it is a political crusade of somewhat unlikely origins. Charles Ross, the 54-year-old steward behind the campaign, admitted he had set it up when he was “bored” and expressed surprise it was now the focus of a political debate.  Any petition with more than 1,250 signatures must be debated by the full council under internal rules – a figure that Mr Ross’s petition has more than tripled. It is to be the fifth item on the agenda when Brighton and Hove City Council meet at 4.30pm and will include a three-minute speech automatically granted to the principal petitioner. Mr Ross told The Daily Telegraph: “I have been a long-standing republican, but I didn’t particularly take up the cause – I think I was bored one evening, if you want me to be honest. “I started a petition and I didn’t realise what a ball I would start rolling.”

Despite now being the figurehead of an apparent republican uprising on the south coast, Mr Ross admitted he had no links to political or campaigning groups on the issue. “I literally did it off my own back,” he said. It is understood no politicians were required to sponsor the petition for it to be debated and Mr Ross has not been contacted directly by the council about its contents. He joked: “I imagine they are probably keeping their heads down.”  Outlining what his address to the council chamber might contain, he continued: “Basically I will be espousing the fact that if politicians believe in a free society then they should not be according special privileges to people that have inherited titles. “My point is that I’ve got nothing against Harry and Meghan personally.” Other less impressed residents of Sussex have called into question the wisdom of the council in choosing to stage such a debate. The petition was condemned online as an “embarrassment”, a “waste of time”, with one Twitter user suggesting  “the guy starting the petition needs to grow up”. Thomas Mace-Archer-Mills, founder of the British Monarchists Society, went as far as to claim the petition was indicative of a troubling rebel movement brewing in the region. He said: “We are utterly dismayed that said petition has been signed by so many. “This certainly highlights that Brighton and Hove is a hotbed of Republican dissidents and is now proven to be so. “Brighton and Hove should not pander to minority treachery and should not further entertain such a petition as proposed.” But Mr Ross remained resolute. He said: “I think if (the council) are fair and reasonable, they should act upon it – if they truly hold to people’s democracy they should follow through. “But I have my doubts that they will.”


It was her final crusade and proved to be her lasting legacy.  On the outskirts of the war-ravaged city of Huambo in central Angola, Diana, Princess of Wales had walked through a minefield that would lead some months later and after her death to a global landmine ban. Twenty two years on, her son the Duke of Sussex made that same journey today. But he insisted the work she had begun had not yet been completed. Had his mother still been alive, he declared, “she would have seen it through.” In a moving speech made at the exact spot where the princess was photographed in January 1997, the Duke said: “It has been quite emotional retracing my mother’s steps… to see the transformation that has taken place, Prince Harry walks the same route his mother took in 1997 an unsafe and desolate place into a vibrant community.” Citing statistics showing a “staggering” 60 million people around the world” still live in fear and risk of landmines”, he argued: “We cannot turn our backs on them.” Visiting Huambo, he had walked the same path famously taken by the late princess in 1997, through a once dangerous area now populated with businesses and houses. He added he had found it moving to “see the transformation that has taken place from an unsafe and desolate area into a vibrant community of local businesses and colleges”.  Citing statistics showing there are still more than 1,000 minefield in Angola, he said: “I wonder if she [Diana] were still alive today if that would be the case? I’m pretty sure she would have seen it through.” Speaking with the help of a translator, the Duke said of work in Huambo: “This is a wonderful example of how UK partnership with Angola can address the issue of land mines, bringing prosperity to an area, creating jobs, helping people access education and healthcare, and making communities safer,” he said. “The work of demining is dangerous, expensive and laborious.  “And I have the utmost admiration and respect for all who do this hazardous work and risk their lives in service to their country.

The Duke of Sussex meets landmine victim Sandra Tigica, who Princess Diana met on her visit to Angola 1997, during a reception at the British Ambassadors Residence in Luanda“I am incredibly proud, as I know my mother would have been, of the role that the UK has played in this transformation.  “But of course none of this progress would have been possible without the spirit and unwavering determination of the Angolan people. The credit goes to you.” But, he said, there was still some where to go to achieve the aim of being “landmine impact-free” by 2025.  Pledging the UK’s “unwavering support”, he added: “I call on all those countries that had their names stamped on these weapons, but have not helped in the clean up, to please commit to ensure we meet out collective goal. “Let’s finish what was started. Let us consign these weapons to the history books.”  Prince Harry ended the second day of his visit to Angola by meeting Sandra Thijika, 38, a landmine victim who was famously pictured with Princess Diana sitting under a fig tree in an orthopaedic workshop in Luanda in 1997.

The Duke of Sussex with Jose Antonio (C), of the Halo Trust and a mine clearance worker in DiricoEarlier in the day, in Dirico, Angola, the Duke had described landmines as the “unhealed scar of war” after emulating his mother Diana, Princess of Wales in detonating a controlled explosion. Wearing body armour and a protective visor, Prince Harry watched as staff from the landmine clearance charity Halo Trust painstakingly worked to rid a remote area of Angola of military munitions. Diana, Princess of Wales, was famously pictured in a partially-cleared minefield in the Angolan town of Huambo in 1997, to highlight the plight of those maimed by the weapons and to urge for a world-wide ban. Prince Harry’s mother never saw her work to help outlaw landmines come to fruition as she died the year of her Africa visit a few months before the international treaty to outlaw the weapons was signed. In a speech to mark his visit, the Duke said: “Landmines are an unhealed scar of war. By clearing the landmines, we can help this community find peace, and with peace comes opportunity.” Speaking about Huambo, he said: “Once heavily mined, the second city of Angola is now safe. “With the right international support, this land around us here can also be like Huambo – a landmine-free, diverse, dynamic and thriving community connected to and benefitting from all that it has to offer.” An Angolan minister attending the event said the “humanistic heritage” of the princess’s anti-landmine campaign was the catalyst for his country’s final push to remove all the munitions by 2025.

Prince Harry meets staff and patients as he visits the Princess Diana Orthopaedic Centre in Huambo, Angolaear the south-eastern town of Dirico the Duke walked into an area in the Luengue-Luiana National Park that was once an artillery base for anti-government forces who had mined the position in 2000 before retreating. The dusty scrubland was marked with red warning signs showing the skull and crossbones, with the Portuguese words “Perigo Minas!” and the English translation below – danger mines. In 2005 a 13-year-old girl lost a foot after stepping on a mine in the area. Jose Antonio, a regional manager for the landmine clearance charity the Halo Trust, took Harry onto the site where his staff have been working since August to make safe, and hope to complete their painstaking clearance by the end of October. Prince Harry watched as mine clearance worker Jorge Joao Cativa used a metal detector to search for the mostly anti-personnel mines buried in the ground. If one is discovered staff are trained to move back and carefully remove the soil as they move forward until they reach the munition. Angola’s landmines area a legacy of a 27-year civil war which ended in 2002 leaving behind an unknown quantity of munitions that have injured and maimed tens of thousands of people. Mr Antonio, said of Harry: “He was very interested in the work that my team are doing clearing the mines. He was very impressed; he knows it’s a hard and very slow and dangerous, and that you need to be very patient.”

Prince Harry in Dirico, AngolaIn June the Duke gave his backing to a £47 million landmine clearing initiative to help destroy thousands of munitions in a huge conservation region of Angola. The Angolan government is investing the funds in the Halo Trust, which will work over five years to rid 153 minefields of munitions in the south-eastern province of Cuando Cubango inside the Mavinga and Luengue-Luiana National Parks. Working with other organisations the Halo Trust hopes the removal of the landmines will lead to the areas, with their wealth of habitat and wild animals, being rejuvenated and opening up to conservationists and eco-tourists. The Duke walked through an area of the site looking at the marked off areas which potentially could contain landmines. An anti-personnel mine had been discovered earlier and the Duke set it off with a controlled explosion which echoed around the area and sent up a large cloud of dust.

Lucio Goncalves Amaral, deputy minister for social integration, paid tribute to Harry’s mother and said his countrymen and women were forever in her debt. In a speech the politician told the Duke: “Your visit to our country is of a great human and historical significance, as it follows the visit of the late Princess Diana of Wales to Angola in January 1997. “We will never forget her priceless contribution to the campaign to ban the anti-personnel land mines. The Angolan people will be eternally grateful for her performance in the demining process of our territory. “This humanistic heritage left by the late Princess of Wales is the motivation for the Angolan executive to proceed with the demining program to free the country of mines by the year 2025.”

The Duke of Sussex meets six-year-old Barnaby Jose MarIn the afternoon, Prince Harry formally opened a hospital re-named in honour of his mother, saying her memory is with him ‘daily’. Recently renovated, the Princess Diana Orthopaedic Centre in Huambo aims to become Angola’s national centre of excellence in orthopaedic care. Speaking at a ceremony to mark the occasion, Harry described the visit as a ‘deeply personal’ one said said his mother would have been delighted to see how the hospital had developed since her visit, when it was filled with landmine victims. “It has been an honour to re-trace my mother’s steps today,” he said. “I lost her 22 years ago but her memory is with me daily and her legacy lives on.” He also spent time with young patients including Justina Cesar, who lost her right leg to a land mine when she was three years old. At the orthopaedic hospital the Duke greeted her with a warm hug, and asked: “I think you were 15 at the time – do you remember meeting my mother?” Speaking afterwards, Ms Cesar, 38, said that she had no idea who Diana was when she visited the orthopaedic centre in 1997. “People just said she was a princess. They asked us to come and meet her. But they did not say how important she was. “She greeted us, and laid her hand on my brow. I was so happy about that. She was very special.” When she learned that Diana had died, “I felt a mighty sadness. Someone who cared very much for mine victims had gone. “But I was very happy that Diana’s son had come to continue the work that she had started. “I am so happy. This is a very special day. I had so much to say to him, but I could barely speak.” Ms Cesar, who has three children and works as a government clerk, said she gave Harry a copy of her project to help landmine victims. “I would like him to sponsor it,” she said.


Famous friends rally to support Duke and Duchess of Sussex: ‘All they’re trying to do is make the world better’

Prince Harry and Meghan at the premiere of The Lion King

Famous friends of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have rallied to their defence following accusations of hypocrisy over their use of private jets, saying the couple are just “trying to make the world better”. American talk show host Ellen Degeneres, who has recently visited the Duke and Duchess, and pop star Pink both issued statements lamenting the “public form of bullying” endured by the couple, after details of their holidays to Ibiza and Nice emerged. It is the latest of the high-profile support for the Duke and Duchess, whose circle of celebrity friends are increasingly using interviews and social media to act as unofficial spokespeople to protect the couple from what they view as “attacks”. On Monday, Sir Elton John claimed the Duke and Duchess had been subject to “relentless and untrue assassinations” after being photographed with their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor boarding a private jet to his home in the south of France. The images led to accusations of hypocrisy for the Duke, who weeks earlier had flown to Google Camp to deliver a lecture on the environment and published an interview warning of climate change: “We are the frog in the water and it’s already been brought to the boil”.

He and the Duchess are reported to have undertaken at least four flights by private jet on holidays to Ibiza and Nice this month. Sir Elton said he had arranged the latest trip because the Sussexes needed the “safety and tranquility” offered by his villa on the French Riviera, and had made “an appropriate contribution” to a company that specialises in offsetting carbon emissions. Now, Ellen DeGeneres, a comedian and talkshow host who has worked with the Duke on elephant conservation, added to the A-list voices defending the couple. In a post on Instagram, mentioning her wife, she said: “Portia and I met Prince Harry and Meghan in England to talk about their work on wildlife conservation. “They were the most down-to-earth, compassionate people.  “Imagine being attacked for everything you do, when all you’re trying to do is make the world better.” Pink, an American singer whose links to the Royal couple have not been made public, said: “I’m happy to see people coming to the defense of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

“The way people treat her is the most public form of bullying I have seen in a while. It’s out of control. Let’s all be a bit kinder, huh? “Let’s show our children that it’s cool to be kind.” Between them, the three celebrities have a Twitter following of 111 million, with a further 83m people watching on Instagram. DeGeneres’ following alone, of 78.3m on Twitter and 76m on Instagram, dwarfs both the Royal Family’s main official social media accounts – 4m on Twitter – or the SussexRoyal Instagram page at 9.3m. The wisdom of Sir Elton’s intervention has been questioned after it sent the story of the private jet global, elevating it to a spectrum of British newspaper front pages, television and radio. Some were left concerned that the support of multi-millionaire celebrities would not win over the couple’s critics, adding to the confusion over their difficult dual role as global stars and working members of a Royal Family whose activities are funded in part by the taxpayer.

The celebrity PR blitz is understood to have unfolded without the knowledge of staff in the royal household, and is not part of an official communications strategy. It will likely be welcomed by the Duke and Duchess, who have become frustrated at their recent portrayal in the media and the restrictions placed upon them as members of the Royal Family. While the couple have a communications team based at Buckingham Palace, aides are bound to issue factual statements rather than speak on record about the Sussexes more abstract personal attributes or good intentions. Instead, the Duke and Duchess have increasingly forged their own methods of communication, writing lengthy Instagram captions giving away “behind the scenes” information about who they have met and publishing personal photographs.

The Duchess’s recent project to guest edit British Vogue gave her a platform of hundreds of pages to share her world view unencumbered by outside scrutiny. The Sussexes have previously received the support of George Clooney,the actor, who claimed the then-pregnant Duchess had been “pursued and vilified” during her New York baby shower, and said of media coverage: “It seemed to me to be a little unjust since she hadn’t done anything except just happen to live her life.” Gayle King, a broadcaster and best friend of Oprah Winfrey who attended the Duchess’ baby shower and visited her at Frogmore, regularly speaks up for her on American television. The BBC’s fact-checking team have calculated that the Duke and Duchess’s two return flights by private jet would have created 37.6 tonnes of CO2: “more than six times an average Briton’s yearly emissions, or 111 times those of a person in Lesotho”.


Prince Harry invokes memory of his mother’s campaigning as he urges greater efforts to tackle landmines

The Duke of Sussex speaking on landmines

The Duke of Sussex has urged the public not to forget his mother’s words on landmines, as he argues the remnants of war must finally be cleared from Angola to allow wildlife and tourists to return. The Duke, whose mother Diana, Princess of Wales, became the face of the campaign in her lifetime, echoed her words to say landmines “are a humanitarian issue not a political one”, urging countries not to leave the mission “half done”. Saying it was “pretty shocking” to learn that de-mining funding had been cut by nearly 90 per cent in the last decade, he urged the international community to help Angola complete its “long journey, full of heartache and frustration” to safety. In a speech at a Chatham House Africa Programme event, London, he made the case particularly for the wildlife of the Okavango Delta, where animals too have been armed by the “remnants of war” including landmines. “My hope is that through this collaboration, minefields can be cleared, land can be protected,  wildlife can be free to return to where they once roamed, and Angolans can reap the rewards by coexisting with the one constant that will draw people in from all over the world –  the extraordinary setting that they call home,” he said. The Duke is understood to be planning a trip to the country in the autumn, working with the HALO Trust on the issue of landmines. His visit, which will likely see him accompanied in some capacity by the Duchess and his son Archie, will be a major tourism coup for the region, showing potential holidaymakers that the land is safe in echoes of his mother’s  famous walk through the minefield. “This event is the culmination of a great effort by many people to progress the vital mission of de-mining Angola – and putting it back on the map as a tourist destination,” he said of the Chatham House event. He went on to reference the words of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997, when she was heavily criticised for her involvement in the issue of landmines and called a “loose cannon” by one British minister. “I’m not a political figure, nor do I want to be one,” she said then. “But I come with my heart, and I want to bring awareness to people in distress, whether it’s in Angola or any part of the world. The fact is I’m a humanitarian figure. Always have been and always will be.” Speaking today, the Duke said: “I first visited Chatham House in June 2017 to take part in a scenario planning exercise – some of you in the room today were here with me. “That exercise showed me the importance of landmine clearance within a humanitarian emergency because, let’s not forget, land mines are a humanitarian issue NOT a political one.” Saying countries must not “leave a job left half done”, he added: “In fact I was told just the other day of the positive transformation in Huambo since my mother walked that minefield all those years ago. “What is less well-known is the impact landmines can have on conservation and wildlife, and therefore the econo-my.” He continued: “Angola is an important example of a country leading the way in clearing the remnants of war to secure a better future for its people and its environment – it has been a long journey, one full of heartache and frustration I’m sure, but now with the optimism and encouragement from your Government Minister, I truly believe that Angola will become a shining example to the rest of the continent.” The event included a major announcement about a new initiative between The HALO Trust and the government of Angola, who are investing $60 million to clear landmines surrounding the Angolan Okavango watershed. Organisers explained that large swathes of south-eastern Angola were ripe for eco-tourism but virtually inaccessible due to landmines, a legacy of the country’s bitter civil war that ended in 2002.

More than one million landmines were planted across the country during the conflict, decimating rural regions and rendering large areas of the country unsafe for both local people and animals including African elephants, lions, cheetahs and hundreds of species of birds. The HALO Trust, which has been working in Angola since 1994, during which time it has destroyed more than 95,000 landmines and cleared 840 minefields, estimates that there is still more than one thousand minefields to be cleared, an area of 121 km2. The new investment, over five years, will fund the clearance of 153 minefields in the south-eastern province of Cuando Cubango inside two national parks, the Mavinga and the Luengue-Luiana. HALO estimates it will need a further $60 million to clear the rest. The 1997 Landmine Treaty, to which it is a signatory, pledges to clear all landmines by 2025. Jane Cooking, chief executive MAG, another international anti-landmine organisation, who took part in the panel discussion, spoke about Diana’s work. She said: “She was very frustrated that what she was doing was being misconstrued as a political issue, not a humanitarian one. “The point was the landmines treaty remains one of the rare pieces of international law where rather than everybody having to get on board, and you just end up with the lowest common denominator, a group of countries led by Canada said ‘scrap this, we are not going anywhere with this. This is not going to work. Those that are up for it, let’s just do it”. “Princess Diana put her weight behind it. So all this diplomatic effort which had been going on for years, she really helped get it over the line.  “We broke the rules and she broke to rules to do that wonderful thing.”


Prince Harry: Investing in sport for disadvantaged youth would save ‘hundreds of millions of pounds’

The Duke of Sussex has argued investment in grassroots sports would save “hundreds of millions of pounds” in treating the problems of a lost generation of young people, as he joins Anthony Joshua and Nicola Adams in the boxing ring. The Duke, who has previously spoken about how boxing has helped his own mental wellness, said supporting sports projects would not only change lives but save lives. Speaking at the launch of Made By Sport, a charity coalition to raise £40 million to boost sport in disadvantaged communities, he said the country could spend hundreds of millions of pounds on the problems caused by a lack of sport in young people’s lives or “you rip up all those cheques and start at the beginning to prevent it from happening in the first place”. At the event, at the Black Prince Trust’s Community Sports Hub in Kennington, London, the duke stepped into a boxing gym to watch former heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua coaching youngsters alongside flyweight fighter and double Olympic gold medallist Nicola Adams. He told his audience: “You can always separate the people who have had sport in their lives from a very young age compared to the people that haven’t.” “I don’t have a problem with saying that as set of core values, if you don’t have sport in your life then it will be a very isolated journey. “We have a "Prince in this campaign to ensure places that are being shut down are not being shut down and that people from all walks of society and every corner of this country are actually given the opportunity to shine, to flourish. “This is about community, this is about providing opportunity to young people all over the place to actually be part of something, something they might not be getting at home, within their own community.” The duke said the sport allowed participants to “get out the anger and aggression which everybody has”, and Joshua added: “All you need is a T-shirt and some gloves.” Adams said afterwards:  “Harry has boxed a bit before. He said he had been boxing before. “I’d love to see boxing gets back into schools more.” “There’s a real bond in boxing. A lot of kids who are drawn to it are trying to get away from a troubled life.” “Boxing is a safe environment where they can do that in a safe environment. Boxing has done the world for me, I’ve travelled the world, I’ve been awarded an MBE and an OBE and become double Olympic champion.

“I think Harry really understands the power of what it can do for kids.”


Harry and Meghan to ‘split’ from charity foundation shared with Cambridges

Princes William and Harry and their wives are to work together on ‘one off’ charitable projects, amid mounting specu-lation the Sussexes are to split from the foundation the couples set up together. In a sign of a further distancing between the two royal households Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, are set to work on their own separate projects, while occasionally coming together for shared initiatives. It comes after it was announced the two households of the Sussexes and Cambridges are to be run separately, following Prince Harry and Meghan’s move of their family home from Kensington Palace to Windsor. The separation of the two households led to a review of the way the Royal Foundation, launched in 2009, operates, with an announcement expected later this month [June]. But palace sources have indicated that both couples are set to go their own way when pursuing their philanthropic and social activism interests. A source said: “They are all excited about what the future holds for what they can achieve with their charitable activity. “But they are also looking forward to working together on big one off projects such as mental health issues.” When the Royal Foundation charity was set up by Prince William and Prince Harry in 2009 it was heralded as a sign of the close emotional and working relationship between the two brothers. With their two wives coming on board over the following years the foundation became one of the most glamorous organisations in the charitable sector. Last year ‘the Fab Four’, as they were known to their fans, attended a Q&A forum about their work under the slogan Making A Difference Together. During the session Tina Daheley, the host, asked if they ever had disagreements. William replied “Oh yes”. When she Daheley asked how they resolved their last disagreement, the princes responded: “Is it resolved? We don’t know!” Prince Harry added: “It’s really good we’ve got four different personalities and we’ve all got that same passion to want to make a difference. Those different opinions work really well.” But it is now understood that the two royal couples have different ideas about what causes to focus on and how to pursue them, with one source telling The Sun: “Meghan and Harry want to do things differently to William and Kate.” A board meeting on June 19 is expected to confirm that the Royal Foundation members will split. Its work revolves around six main themes of mental health, wildlife conservation, young people and the welfare of the armed forces and their families. A spokesman for the foundation said: “The work to prepare both couples for their future roles will of course have implications for how they manage their charitable and philanthropic activity into the future. “We are not going to prejudge the outcome of the review, but we will be able to announce it publicly once all aspects are concluded.” The spokesman added: “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are committed to the work they are carrying out through The Royal Foundation and are proud of what they have achieved together.”


An artists impression of the Duchess of Cambridge's Chelsea Flower Show garden

This week, Kensington Palace released previously unseen images of the Duchess of Cambridge putting the finishing touches on her designs for her debut Chelsea Flower Show garden. Over the past few months, Kate has been working with the Royal Horticultural Society and award-winning landscape architects Andrée Davies and Adam White to design a woodland wilderness “Back to Nature” garden for families with children. Until now, the details have been kept under wraps – shrouding the most eagerly anticipated attraction of the 2019 show in mystery ahead of its grand unveiling next week. However, we know that the garden is designed to “inspire families to get outside and explore nature together”, and to promote the benefits the natural world brings to mental and physical well-being. And we can now reveal that among the many child-friendly, playful features, the 37-year-old’s magical garden is set to boast both a stream and Enid Blyton-esque, high-platform tree house, clad in stag horn oak and whimsically reminiscent of a bird’s nest. The pictures here show just how hands-on Kate’s creative input has been into the garden, which will also feature a swing seat, a campfire and a rustic den, similar to one used by her own children Prince George (5), Princess Charlotte (4) and Prince Louis (1) in the grounds of Anmer Hall, their beloved countryside home in remote north Norfolk.

When she and Prince William were based there permanently, they planted extra trees, saplings and shrubs to create a natural retreat from the outside world, and in many ways, this is to be a garden shaped by the Duchess’s own first-hand experiences of the joys of playing outside and escaping into nature. Lift the tree stumps, stepping stones and a hollow logs we now know that she will present next week for children to play on at Chelsea, and you will likely find not just ants, worms and woodlice, but an insight into the Duchess’s family values and the causes that make her tick. The Duchess of Cambridge is understood to have been a “tomboy” as a child, has always spoken fondly about her childhood, saying she used to love spending time outside with her parents Carole and Michael Middleton and her siblings Pippa and James in the village of Bucklebury in Berkshire, where you will find the Bucklebury Farm & Deer Safari Park and the pretty River Pang, a gently tinkling chalk stream. And outdoor playtime is exactly what Kate and Prince William want for their own children, too. “As a mother, it is the simple family moments like playing outside together that I cherish,” she wrote in an open letter to support Children’s Hospice Week. It’s no coincidence that the day care she chose for Prince George in Norfolk was a modest Montessori nursery, Westacre, where the emphasis was on “free play”, often outdoors, getting stuck in and getting messy.

The Duke and Duchess of CambridgeRecently, the Duchess also got stuck into the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, helping a group of children to plant spring-flowering bulbs, including daffodils and snake’s head fritillaries. According to Kensington Palace, Kate’s ‘Back to Nature’ garden “hopes to trigger memories of time spent in nature” – but it’s not only nostalgia for an idyllic childhood driving Kate’s appreciation of the fun to be had in green spaces, but also her ongoing campaigning for mental health awareness. Kate is seen as the driving force behind Heads Together, an ongoing campaign she fronts with her husband Prince William and her brother-in-law Prince Harry, who opened up to The Telegraph’s Bryony Gordon last year about his own battles with mental health issues as part of their #oktosay campaign. Fresh air, exercise and natural surroundings contribute to both mental and physical health, which the young royals believe are of equal importance. The benefits are proven, and the effects can be immediate: one recent study even found that birdsong can boost mental well-being for up to four hours.  This week, Prince William launched a new ‘Head’s Up” men’s mental health campaign at Wembley Stadium with the Football Association president. Both Kate and William have worked continuously to end the stigma around mental health and “open up the conversation” as a whole. Kate’s focus has increasingly been on children’s mental health, in particular. In February, she visited a number of school’s for Children’s Mental Health Week. “Childhood is an incredibly important moment in our lives,” she said at the time. “It is the time when we explore our personalities, discover the potential that lies within us and learn how to be ourselves. Our experience of the world at this early stage helps to shape who we become as adults, how we begin to feel comfortable in our own skin.” Earlier this month, she also gave a heartfelt speech at the opening of a new children’s mental health centre, the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families in King’s Cross.  “We are all here today because we care so much about transforming the mental health of children, young people and their families. I have learnt so much about early childhood development and the importance of support from parents,” she said. In her Chelsea garden, interaction with the natural environment will be encouraged through the garden’s “multi-sensory” green and blue plant scheme to offer serenity away from screens and stress, set within a bosky environment traversed with paths. This in itself is revealing of Kate’s concern over the impact of technology on modern childhoods. Apparently, during early discussions between the landscape designers, it emerged that she had been reading Last Child in the Woods, the 2005 book in which author Richard Louv first coined the phrase “nature deficit disorder” (£10.99, Waterstones).

In the book, Louv attributes such ills as the rises in childhood obesity, attention disorders, and depression to this deficit – but also offers practical solutions, many of which can be found just beyond the doorstep. Since its first publication, Louv has launched a growing “Leave No Child Inside” movement, and has published updated research confirming that direct exposure to nature is essential for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. According to the palace, the Back to Nature garden “seeks to recapture for adults the sense of wonder and magic that they enjoyed as children, in addition to kindling excitement and a passion for nature in future generations.” Like Anmer Hall, her garden will offer rural respite from urban living as well as an antidote to increasingly sedentary, indoor lifestyles. “The challenge we all have is to make it feel like visitors are in the middle of a woodland,” said Adam White of the design, which the Duchess suggested should incorporate elements of forest bathing, the Japanese practise of immersing yourself among trees for wellbeing, otherwise known as shinrin-yoku.

In many ways, Kate is following in the footsteps of her father-in-law Prince Charles in this respect. A passionate gardener who has long campaigned for environmental causes, Charles has also previously exhibited at Chelsea, designing two gardens in 2001 and 2002, and winning silver both times. Notably, he worked with garden designer Jinny Bloom to create a “Healing Garden”, which featured 125 varieties of medicinal herbs, shrubs and kitchen plants to help with everything from bruises to stress. While cynics may see the Duchess’s debut as a cleverly plotted marketing exercise executed by the Firm, surely anything that aims to get us away from computer screens and paddling in streams or climbing trees again for a dose of “nature medicine” can be no bad thing.


Prince Harry says fatherhood has given him ‘new focus and goal in life’ as he speaks of loss of his mother

The Duke of Sussex has spoken of how his three-day-old son Archie has “given him a new focus and goal”, teaching him the “miracle” of new life after the challenges he faced following the loss of his mother. The Duke, who was in The Hague for the launch of the one year countdown to the Invictus Games, told of his pleasure in knowing his baby had made “a lot of people happy”, saying he was still “very quiet” at just a few days old. Having left Archie at home in Windsor with the Duchess to return for one day of work, he spoke of the joy his baby son has brought but advised a fellow father-to-be to learn his lessons and not plan too much after the baby’s arrival.

During a bike ride around the Zuiderpark, the Duke had a candid conversation with former soldier Dennis van der Stroom, 31, about mental health and parenting, speaking poignantly of the loss of Diana, Princess of Wales. Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born on Monday morning, with the Duke appearing to abandon the idea of paternity leave with one engagement today another already announced for Tuesday.

“Above all, he said he was just The Duke of Sussex (R) makes a bike ride with Dutch athlete Dennis Van Der Stroom (L)  by the miracles in the world, and how his child has made a lot of people happy,” said Mr Van der Stroon. “He also told me he’s really happy that his son is so far very quiet.“ But he also told me not to make too many plans and that there’s no way you can plan for when the baby arrives. The Invictus athlete, who served in the army from 2006 until 2011, described his conversation with the Duke as “amazing and emotional”. “At a certain moment, we just got connected on this level,” he said. “We talked about how my wife, Mireille, is 20 weeks pregnant with our first child, a girl, and he told me how special it was that his son has just been born. “Harry talked about how having a small child was his new focus and new goal and I told him how a couple of months ago, I was struggling with my mental health but my wife’s pregnancy has given me a goal.”

Van der Stroon was a Corporal First Class and served on operations in Uruzgan, Afghanistan. In 2014 his mother, Marion, died aged 58 from chronic lung disease, and in 2015 he was diagnosed with PTSD, triggering what he described as a “domino effect” of mental health issues. “I told Harry about my mother and we talked about our shared experience of missing a mum,” he said. “He said missing a mother is like missing some kind of security, how you need that as a son and it falls away when you lose your mother.”

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex is presented with an Invictus Games baby grow by Princess Margriet of The Netherlands during the launch of the Invictus GamesThe Duke, who had pretended to prop his eyes open with tiredness as he arrived at a sports stadium in The Hague, will travel home with a new soft rattle toy, a stuffed bird, some newborn socks with “I love Daddy” written on them, and a special Invictus Games babygrow for Archie. His branded jacket was embroidered with the word “Daddy”. Chatting to a friend in the arena, he discussed how fatherhood was the “best thing he will ever do”.

JJ Chalmers, a former Invictus star and broadcaster who has become a friend of the Prince, disclosed: “He said it’s amazing but it’s hard work. He said that Archie slept for the first 24 hours like all babies do… and then he woke up.”