Duke and Duchess of Sussex 'to work in Africa' as they map out new life as a family

Hannah Furness
Meghan in Rwanda with charity World Vision in 2017 - PA

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are considering a major move to work in Africa after the birth of their first child, as the Duke and his older brother map out their separate working lives.

The Duke and Duchess, who are already president and vice-president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, have been in discussions with advisers over a “bespoke” international role for the next phase of their work in the Royal Family.

Planning is in its earliest stages, as the couple await the birth of their first child and the life changes that will bring, with their team considering how they can best make a positive impact in the Commonwealth.

The move will be viewed as both symptom and cause of the recent formal split in the young royal household of Kensington Palace, with Prince William and Prince Harry working increasingly differently amid rumours of a rift.

While Prince William prepares to one day become Prince of Wales and then King, Prince Harry and his wife have built a platform of celebrity allies and social media followers that will ensure them global interest in their next move.

Meghan in Rwanda with charity World Vision in 2017 Credit: PA 

Growing concern of tension between the two brothers was not aided today by their appearance at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, for the Easter Mattins service, where the Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex did not exchange a word in view of the public.

Instead, the Duke of Sussex appeared in good spirits as he arrived at church with Peter and Autumn Phillips and left with Zara and Mike Tindall, while the Cambridges walked together as the Royal Family gathered to celebrate the 93rd birthday of the Queen.

A spokesman for the Sussexes said: "Any future plans for the duke and duchess are speculative at this stage. No decisions have been taken about future roles.

"The duke will continue to fulfil his role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador."

The Sunday Times has reported that a formal plan to move the couple to work overseas is being drawn up by Sir David Manning, a former special adviser on constitutional and international affairs to both Dukes.

Lord Geidt, the Queen's former private secretary and chairman of the Queen's Commonwealth Trust, has also been involved, with Simon Case, the Duke of Cambridge’s private secretary, expected to be “pivotal” in negotiating the details of any move with the government, it said.

Such a position would be designed to "harness" the star-power of the couple while keeping them within the fold of the Royal Family, it is claimed.  

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Botswana in 2017 Credit: Instagram

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have long been expected to focus their working lives on the wider Commonwealth, after making clear their support for its young people around the world.

While posts in Canada and Australia have also been considered, it is understood that a country in Africa is the front runner for a period of sustained, long-term work.

The couple are unlikely to make a permanent move abroad, with options under discussion currently including recurring trips to one region for several months at a time to allow them to undertake “meaningful” work in a community.

Such a plan could see them change the tried-and-tested royal schedule of taking several high-profile, one-off visits to different countries each year at the request of the government, designed to build relationships between Britain and the rest of the world.

Prince Harry has previously spoken of his deep affinity to the continent of Africa, having spent time in Lesotho in his 20s, founding HIV charity Sentebale, and calling Botswana his "second home".

He and the then-Meghan Markle spent time in Botswana while they were dating, with Prince Harry introducing her to elephant conservation work in 2017.

A source said an African country was considered an ideal fit for the types of causes the couple want to focus on, which have so far included women’s empowerment, education and young people.

Any plans to work overseas would be designed to make use of the couple’s global status, while balancing the need for them to work in support of the Queen and to benefit Britain.

Aides will also need to navigate both significant security issues and the shadow of colonialism, requiring a role which could not be open to accusations of a visiting Duke and Duchess patronising Commonwealth citizens.

Discussions are said to be in the very earliest stages, with the safe arrival of the Sussex’s first baby being their top priority in the coming days.

Once the couple have settled in as a new family of three, a source said, they will then "map out the long-term strategy for their working lives over the next few years".

A royal source said the Duke of Cambridge would continue to be “fully supportive” of his brother as the pair set out on their separate working lives.