Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s former chief of staff has said the Duke and Duchess have ‘the potential to be very influential’ in an interview given months after she unexpectedly quit her role with the couple.
Canadian-born Catherine St Laurent, who lives in Seattle, was head-hunted by the couple from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to become their ‘chief of staff’ and executive director of Archewell, their new non-profit organisation, last April.
But it emerged in March she had left the post with insiders saying she ‘wanted out’ after performing tasks outside of her contract and having to ‘fulfil a great many functions for the Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39.’
She has now said working for the couple was an ‘incredible experience’ in an interview with The Cut, saying: ‘They are incredibly talented and creative leaders. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to do that, to be able to be with them on their journey.’
Canadian-born Catherine St Laurent, who lives in Seattle, has said the Duke and Duchess have ‘the potential to be very influential’ in an interview given months after she unexpectedly quit her role with the couple
Catherine, who is now working as a senior adviser for the couple, added: ‘The time that I spent with them was incredibly fulfilling. I think they have the potential to be very influential leaders in the social-impact space.’
Elsewhere, she described how she wakes up at 5.30am and checks her emails and work phone, before officially starting work at 8.30am.
In March, it emerged that the Canadian-born mother-of-two had unexpectedly left her post just 11 months into the job.
Sources told The Telegraph: ‘I think there was a sense that she was having to fulfil a great many functions for the couple – not all of which were necessarily in her job spec.’
It emerged in March Catherine had left the post with insiders saying she ‘wanted out’ after performing tasks outside of her contract and having to ‘fulfill a great many functions for the Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39’
Harry and Meghan were dogged by a spate of departures from their ranks as working royals, losing at least two PAs as well as other key staff from their private office.
Ms St Laurent was head-hunted by the couple from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to become their ‘chief of staff’ and executive director of Archewell, their new non-profit organisation, last April.
CATHERINE ST-LAURENT: ‘SENIOR ADVISORY ROLE’
Old position: Executive director of the Archewell Foundation
New position: A ‘senior advisory role’ at the Archewell Foundation
Catherine St-Laurent took on the position of chief of staff and executive director of the Sussexes’ non-profit enterprise the Archewell Foundation in April 2020.
The Canadian-born French speaker was previously the director at Pivotal Ventures – Melinda Gates’ women and families foundation – and held a top communications role at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
At the time of her appointment, a friend told the Mail that Ms St-Laurent was ‘feisty, fair and up for a tough conversation’, adding: ‘But if all goes wrong, she is good for a laugh and a cocktail afterwards.
‘She’s a good egg. She’ll bring a clean-sheet perspective.’
After her hiring last year, the Sussexes had said: ‘We are proud to be joined by Catherine St-Laurent in this next chapter with us.
‘Her leadership and proven track record working within two organizations that have tremendous impact in the world — the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Pivotal Ventures make her an incredible asset and we’re excited to have her on our team.’
In a departing email to staff, she announced: ‘I am thrilled to be able to play a supporting role in realising their vision and enabling them to achieve impact on the issues that matter most to them.’
It was revealed in March that mother-of-two Ms St-Laurent will instead take on a senior advisory role for Archewell, and will ‘continue to bring high-level strategic guidance’ to the foundation, a spokesman told Page Six.
The couple called her an ‘incredible asset’ when they announced her appointment, adding: ‘We are excited to have her on our team.’
There was no comment from her directly. She esd replaced as Archewell’s executive director by the couple’s current communications officer in the UK, James Holt.
Reports suggested they have no immediate plans to replace him, leaving the Duke and Duchess of Sussex without any official representation in Britain and all their media relations now being handled in the US.
The couple have already appointed Toya Holness as Archewell’s ‘global press secretary’. Buckingham Palace ceased to act for them after they quit as working royals last spring.
One royal insider expressed surprise at Miss St Laurent’s departure, telling the Mail: ‘She was a huge appointment for them.
‘A big hitter with a great track record, poached to head up their new working life in the US. It is really quite astonishing she has left that role after less than a year.’
Earlier this year Buckingham Palace announced it was launching a probe into the handling of claims by their former head of communications that Meghan bullied several female members of their team, forcing at least two to quit.
A spokesman for the couple denied the claims, calling it a ‘calculated smear campaign’.
At the time of her appointment as Harry and Meghan’s most senior team member, Miss St Laurent had said she was ‘thrilled to be able to play a supporting role in realising their vision’.
She added: ‘From our very first conversation, Harry and Meghan have expressed a deep commitment to improving lives and having a positive impact on society.’
The interview comes as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle hired a Head of Audio to produce their Archewell podcast – after giving Spotify just 35 minutes of content so far for their £18million deal.
She was previously lead podcast producer for Pivot, New York Magazine and Vox Media’s show hosted by Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway and will report to Archewell’s head of content, Ben Browning, when she joins the company in August.
Before joining Pivot, she worked in public radio, where she worked on episodes including Why Is Vermont So Overwhelmingly White.
In 2015, Rebecca received the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting HIV/AIDS Fellowship.
It comes as Harry and Meghan are both taking ‘several months off work’ to take care of their newborn daughter Lilibet.
Omid Scobie, a journalist favoured by Harry and Meghan, revealed that the couple are now taking time off work together.
He said: ‘We’re so used to seeing senior royals going back to work but Harry and Meghan are leading by example. They offer up to 20 weeks parental leave at Archewell – it’ll be several months off work for the pair of them’.