Harry and Meghan’s next move: Signing with speaking agency that reps Obamas, Clintons
Look who’s talking!
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who are settling into life in Los Angeles, have signed on with the New York-based Harry Walker Agency for speaking engagements, according to a person familiar with their plans.
The couple, whose professional interests and every move have been scrutinized, will be engaging in moderated discussions and keynote speeches with trade associations, corporations and community forums, said the person, who declined to be identified.
They will focus on social issues such as racial justice (which the former Meghan Markle recently addressed with students from her L.A. alma mater), gender equity and environmental concerns. They will also speak on mental health; Prince Harry has shared his own struggles with grief and has championed emotional health initiatives and organizations in recent years.
Former actress Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, speaks about George Floyd’s death in a virtual address to Immaculate Heart High School graduates.
The appointment of Harry Walker, tasked with fielding and sourcing speaking opportunities, heralds the couple’s return to public platforms as they seek to promote their philanthropic foundation Archewell. Fans and critics alike have been waiting to see how the couple will deploy their significant cultural capital and which causes they will support since stepping back from front-line royal duties in the U.K.
Since leaving the U.K, the couple’s appearances have largely been in private. Prince Harry spoke at a private JP Morgan event in Miami — where he reportedly discussed mental health — and both he and his wife have participated in video calls with charities they support. As the coronavirus health crisis moves into a new phase, with the reopening of many aspects of public life, the couple could now return to speaking on stages.
But don’t expect them to be spilling the beans on the inner workings of Harry’s family; there are no plans to accept any speaking engagements about the royal life they have left behind.
Black Britons say that racism helped drive out the royal couple. Nigel Farage, a prominent voice in the Brexit debate, disagrees.
By choosing the Harry Walker Agency to represent them, they join an A list of Hollywood entertainers as well as some of the world’s most sought-after Democratic politicos: Michelle and Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton and rising party star Stacey Abrams.
It’s a high-profile signing for Harry Walker, which was acquired by last year by Endeavor, the parent company of WME.
The speaking agency also represents other close connections of the couple, including Oprah Winfrey and Jane Goodall.
Speaking can be extremely lucrative and the proceeds from Harry and Meghan’s bookings will be part of their move to become financially independent from the British royal family. President Obama reportedly earned $400,000 for one 2017 speech, while the Clintons averaged $250,000 per appearance in 2014. It is unclear what speaking fees will be for the Duke and Duchess, who will speak both together or individually.
Harry and Meghan took their first steps into Los Angeles life in April, when they were spied volunteering — delivering meals to vulnerable West Hollywood residents confined to home by the coronavirus shutdown. Their roles as senior royals in the U.K. ended in March, and they’ve made their California home in a 22-acre Beverly Hills property owned by filmmaker Tyler Perry, according to reports.
On Tuesday they visited the nonprofit Homeboy Industries, helping out in its bakery’s kitchen. Aimed at helping gang members ease out of that life for the last 32 years, Homeboy has been largely shut down during the pandemic and faces a $1-million shortfall. The organization’s tattoo removal service and cafe temporarily closed, but its bakery and electronics recycling service are running.
The organization shared photos of the hair-netted and masked royal couple as they prepared food for its #FeedHOPE program, which employs Homeboy participants to provide meals to food-insecure seniors and youth across Los Angeles amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The couple gave up use of the title “royal highness” and will no longer receive public funds for their work, Buckingham Palace announced in January, as part of their withdrawal from royal life and duties.
The two had originally planned to launch a new venture under the name Sussex Royal but, after negotiating their exit, they had to abandon that name and the associated — and hugely popular — Instagram account. More recently they have named their foundation Archewell.
Earlier this month, the former actress shared her sadness over racial divisions in the U.S., telling graduates at Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles that she felt moved to speak out after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. Markle, who has an African American mother and a white father, said she had been reminded of the 1992 L.A. protests that arose in the wake of the acquittal of police officers after their beating of Rodney G. King.
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