Working Royals take on a number of patronages and charities as part of their duties. In fact, you could argue that bringing attention (and, ideally, donors) to these causes is the main reason Royals exist these days.
But what exactly does being a patron entail?
We started considering this question when the news broke about Prince Andrew looting his own charity’s coffers to pay off his former staffer.
Earlier this month, investigators caught Andrew using funds from the Prince Andrew Charitable Trust to pay around half a million dollars to Amanda Thirsk, his former private secretary. Thirsk was essentially thrown under the bus after the Newsnight disaster and then given a golden parachute.
Andrew placed her as a trustee of his fun. He then looted it to pay her far more than trustees normally receive. Auditors told Andrew to pay that money back to the charity from his own pockets.
Andrew aside, here is how Royal patronages are supposed to work.
Royal Patrons Bring Awareness to Worthy Causes
The official word from Buckingham Palace is that “[h]aving a Royal patron or president provides vital publicity for the work of these organisations, and allows their enormous achievements and contributions to society to be recognised.”
Each member of the Royal family can choose to be a patron for causes or organizations that are meaningful to them.
For example, before they decided to leave Royal life behind, Duchess Meghan had chosen four organizations as her first patronages. We know she’s passionate about helping animals, supporting the arts, and giving women the tools they need to succeed.
Those passions informed her decision to stand as a patron for The National Theatre, Mayhew (an organization that helps homeless people care for their dogs), and Smart Works. The Smart Works collaboration included a capsule collection of work clothes that raised money for the women’s empowerment charity.
Duchess Kate, on the other hand, is a keen amateur photographer. She decided to patronize the Victoria and Albert Museum as well as sponsoring a recent photography contest to depict life during lockdown. Kate is also very interested in gardening, raising healthy kids, and promoting mental health. You can see those interests play out in her Royal projects and patronages.
What Happened to Prince Harry’s Patronages?
Meghan recently did a Zoom call with Mayhew to support the charity she patronized. But isn’t that no longer her job now that she’s not a working Royal?
The Great Sussex Exodus made things more complicated for Royal patronages. Harry is no longer permitted to be a representative for the UK’s armed forces. However, he can continue to support the Invictus Games, the event he founded in support of wounded veterans.
Here’s where things get tricky. Some patronages operate under a larger umbrella. For example, Prince Andrew’s “Pitch@Palace” initiative was part of his Prince Andrew Charitable Trust organization.
Harry had previously done much of his charity work as part of The Royal Foundation. That included the Endeavor Fund, which also supported wounded and ill service personnel. In order to continue as a patron of the fund, Harry had to split it from the Royal Foundation. This foundation he set up with his brother also includes Kate and William’s patronages.
The TL;DR version: Harry had to wrestle control of his beloved charities away from the Royal Foundation in order to continue supporting them.