William and Harry split royal households as Sussexes hire ex-Clinton advisor

Hannah Furness
Duchess of Cambridge sits near the Duchess of Sussex as they attend the Westminster Abbey Commonwealth day service - Times Newspapers Ltd

The Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex are to formally split their households, as they and their wives go their separate ways after a lifetime of being the nation’s favourite royal double act.

The brothers are to separate every logistical element of their working lives, with staff based in different palaces and key aides moved or replaced.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, whose office will move to Buckingham Palace, have employed a new press secretary: a former senior adviser to Bill Clinton and Tony Blair's government worked on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and also advised Obama. 

The decision will be seen as a clear signal as to the direction of the Sussexes working lives, as they increasingly build their own profile by speaking out on the issues closest to their hearts.

The announcement comes after months of speculation about the future of the young royal household at Kensington Palace. Nicknamed the “Fab Four”, they have been plagued with rumours - denied and downplayed by aides - that their working style is no longer compatible.

While the Duke of Cambridge prepares for his eventual role as King, building his working life around more statesmanlike engagements, tours and speeches, the Duke of Sussex has been settling in to his new platform as a married man.

Duke and duchess of Cambridge stand with the duke and Duchess of Sussex at Westminster Abbey for a Commonwealth day service Credit: Richard Pohle 

The Duchess of Sussex has until now been absorbed into the existing team at Kensington Palace, with staff enduring a significantly increased workload as a result of having four adult working members of the royal family.

Last year, the Sussexes confirmed they would be moving out of Kensington Palace to Frogmore Cottage, Windsor, to coincide with the arrival of the baby in April. Today the Royal households issued a formal announcement about the split.

“The Queen has agreed to the creation of a new Household for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, following their marriage in May last year,” they said in a statement.  

“The Household, which will be created with the support of The Queen and The Prince of Wales, will be established in the spring.” It will be funded by the Duchy of Lancaster, Duchy of Cornwall and the Sovereign Grant.

Sara Latham previously worked in the White House for Bill Clinton and on his wife’s presidential campaign

“This long-planned move will ensure that permanent support arrangements for The Duke and Duchess’s work are in place as they start their family and move to their official residence at Frogmore Cottage,” it added.

Significantly, key members of the existing joint Kensington Palace team are to remain in the service of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Their current press secretary, Jason Knauf, will move to the role of special adviser. Christian Jones, who has served as deputy press secretary to both the Cambridge and Sussexes, will also remain with the household of the future king, promoted to communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

While sources have previously suggested any split would see the foursome maintain their working relationship through their charitable foundation, that too is to be re-examined.

Staff, led by Jason Knauf, are to begin reviewing the “charitable structures that underpin” the work of the two couples, in changes that may include the dismantling of their umbrella organisation currently called the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

The Sussexes will be represented by Sara Latham, who will report directly to the Queen’s new communications secretary Donal McCabe. She is moving from corporate PR firm Freuds, where she “oversaw global corporate accounts with a particular emphasis on executive thought leadership and purpose-led campaigns”.

Royal family photo taken for Prince Charles' 70th birthday Credit: Getty

She has previously worked in the White House for Bill Clinton, on his wife’s presidential campaign, and as a special adviser for Tessa Jowell as culture secretary.

Her experience may be particularly aligned with the interests of the Duchess of Sussex, who has built a reputation for her strong public speaking on passionately-held beliefs feminism since joining the royal family.

The new Sussex team is still seeking to fill several permanent positions. Their interim press secretary Samantha Cohen will not remain in the role in the long-term, while their assistant private secretary Amy Pickerill is leaving after the birth of the baby.