Harry and Meghan appoint new Archewell Foundation executive director

Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter
·4-min read

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are replacing the executive director of their Archewell Foundation after just a year in the role.

Harry and Meghan are promoting James Holt, the couple’s UK spokesman, to the key post.

Mr Holt is taking over from Catherine St-Laurent, who started as the Foundation’s first executive director in April 2020, having previously worked at Melinda Gates’ Pivotal Ventures.

Harry and Meghan
Harry and Meghan launched the Archewell Foundation after stepping down as senior royals (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Ms St-Laurent, who is launching her own new social impact firm, supported by and working with Archewell, will now act as senior adviser to Archewell.

She was also made Harry and Meghan’s chief of staff last year, but no details have been released as to who will fill this role.

Mr Holt will lead the Archewell Foundation’s mission to “uplift and unite communities through acts of compassion”.

Toya Holness, Archewell’s global press secretary, will deal with the UK media from California.

Following Mr Holt’s move from spokesman to executive director, it is not yet known at this stage whether Harry and Meghan will have a press spokesperson based in the UK in the future.

The couple have had a fractured relationship with the British media, with the couple accusing the tabloids of “inciting so much racism” in its reporting on the Sussexes.

Oprah Winfrey interviews Duke and Duchess of Sussex
The couple left the monarchy in turmoil after their Oprah interview (Yui Mok/PA)

In their bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview, Harry and Meghan said they left the UK both because of the lack of support from The Firm and to get away from the UK press.

Harry and Meghan also have a new head of content – producer Ben Browning, who will oversee audio and production for the Sussexes’ multimillion-pound Netflix and Spotify deals.

Mr Browning will take charge of the Archewell Productions and Archewell Audio divisions of the company.

He has been nominated for a best picture Oscar, a Bafta, PGA Award, and Golden Globe for co-producing Emerald Fennell’s revenge thriller Promising Young Woman, starring Carey Mulligan.

He was also an executive-producer of HBO’s series I Know This Much Is True for which Mark Ruffalo won an Emmy and Golden Globe.

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Mr Browning said Harry and Meghan had founded a “next-generation production company” with Netflix and Spotify and described his involvement as “thrilling”.

“From the moment they shared their vision for Archewell as a global production company that will spotlight diverse voices and share uplifting stories, I knew I wanted to help with this unique opportunity. It’s a thrilling company to be starting,” he said.

Invisible Hand – a social impact and culture change agency founded by Genevieve Roth – has also joined Archewell to focus on “strategic change through storytelling and community building in support of gender and racial equity”.

Harry and Meghan’s two-hour sit down with Winfrey on March 7 left the monarchy in crisis, after the couple accused the royal family of racism and the institution of doing nothing to help the duchess when she had suicidal thoughts.

The Sussexes said a family member – not the Queen nor the Duke of Edinburgh – had raised concerns about how dark their son Archie’s skin tone might be before he was born.

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The duchess also said Archie was not made a prince because of his race – although he is not actually entitled to be a prince because of rules set down by King George V more than 100 years ago.

Ms Holness, global press secretary for Archewell, said: “Archewell is incredibly pleased to welcome Ben, Genevieve and the Invisible Hand team to the organisation.

“Along with the appointment of James Holt as executive director of Archewell Foundation, they join a rapidly expanding team that’s deeply dedicated to advancing systemic cultural change and supporting compassionate communities across the world.”

Earlier this month, Buckingham Palace instructed an external law firm to assist with its investigation into bullying allegations made against Meghan.

The duchess has faced claims, which she denies, that she drove out two personal assistants and “humiliated” staff on several occasions when she was still a senior working royal.

Archewell replaced Harry and Meghan’s Sussex Royal brand after they quit royal duties.

The name was inspired by their son Archie – combining “arche”, the Greek word meaning source of action, and “well” as “a plentiful source or supply; a place we go to dig deep”.