The Duke and Duchess of Sussex hope to take a six-month ‘secondment’ to Africa in the next few years, it was revealed last night.
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.
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.
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 last night.
‘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.’