With just days to go before they step down as “senior” royals, the The Duke and Duchess of Sussex — currently on a “farewell tour” of the UK — surprised their employees with a “festive” lunch at The Goring Hotel in London on Thursday.
The Sussexes told their 15 staff they were closing their Buckingham Palace office in person in January — shortly after announcing they were moving to North America.
While a few staff will remain in their employ, most have been negotiating exit packages.
A royal source said the couple organized a lunch to bid farewell to their hard-working team, revealing: “Harry and Meghan have often done fun things like throwing pizza parties or hiring ice cream trucks for their staff, but they wanted to do something special going into this last week together.
“They toasted the team and thanked them for everything they have done. Some of the staffers cried.
“They’ve all been through so much together and the staff have been working around the clock to make sure this last visit was as seamless as possible. Meghan and Harry really wanted to show their appreciation, they know how hard everyone has worked.”
The Sussexes were seen leaving the swanky hotel in the London rain following the lunch.
Staff who are leaving include Harry’s longtime program co-ordinator Clara Loughran, who was asked by the prince to hand Meghan her bouquet in church on her wedding day. The couple’s private secretary Fiona Mcilwham is also leaving, although she is on secondment from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and is likely to be found in a role in Whitehall, according to reports.
Their hugely experienced communications chief Sara Latham — who previously worked for the Obamas and was Hillary Clinton’s senior campaign adviser –- remains with them until the end of the month, while her deputy, assistant communications secretary Marnie Gaffney, is leaving. The other press officer to lose her job is Julie Burley, who worked for Harry, Prince William and Kate Middleton on their successful mental health campaign Heads Together.
David Watkins, poached from fashion house Burberry in August as the couple’s social media expert and nicknamed “Digital Dave”, is also leaving.
Harry and Meghan will make their final royal appearance as they join the Queen, Prince Charles, Camilla, William and Kate at a Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on Monday.