Kate and William’s rebranded foundation to be led by former communications chief

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s rebranded Royal Foundation is to be led by their former communications secretary, Kensington Palace has announced.

Jason Knauf is to become the chief executive officer of the charitable organisation which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex left earlier this summer to establish their own foundation.

The royal aide, who used to head the Kensington Palace press office, will replace former BBC One controller Lorraine Heggessey when she stands down in the autumn after more than two years in the post.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

William and Kate said: “Lorraine has played an integral role in our charitable initiatives over the last two-and-a-half years. We are very grateful for her hard work and support, and wish her the very best for the future.

“We are pleased that Jason has been appointed as CEO and very much look forward to working with him in his new role.”

While Harry and Meghan added: “It has been a great pleasure to work alongside Lorraine over the past couple of years, to champion the causes that we feel so strongly about, and we wish her well for the next stage of her career.”

The Sussexes announced in June they would be splitting from their joint Royal Foundation with the Cambridges and setting up their own organisation.

It has the full name Sussex Royal the Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and was registered as a private limited company with Companies House on July 1.

Harry and Meghan
Harry and Meghan

Details have yet to be released of the first projects Harry and Meghan’s new organisation will tackle but a recent post on the couple’s official Instagram account said a new environment and community initiative the couple are behind, will be formally launched this autumn.

The creation of the Sussexes’ new charitable body follows reports over the past year of a rift, first between Kate and Meghan, and then between future king William and his younger brother, Harry.

Sources have denied there was a feud, saying it was “largely about preparing both couples for their future roles, which are obviously on divergent tracks”.

Mr Knauf, who is a senior adviser to William and Kate, will start his new job on October 1 when it is expected the foundation will be named after the Cambridges.

Sir Keith Mills, chairman of the Royal Foundation, said about Ms Heggessey: “She has overseen the expansion of the Heads Together mental health programmes, has incubated and financed Shout the UK’s first digital mental health service, helped make possible the hugely successful Together cook book supporting the Grenfell Tower communities, and helped the expansion of the Coach Core sports coaching programme.”

The outgoing chief executive said: “I am very proud of what the Royal Foundation has achieved during this exciting period of growth. However, as it enters its next phase, I believe it is the right time for me to step down and to pursue my interests in the media sector.”