Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have hired two more former Palace aides, despite claims they were surrounded by “vipers” and could trust very few people there.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have rehired Clara Loughran and Beth Herlihy on a freelance basis, both former Palace aides who lost their jobs when the couple stepped down as senior royals in March. The pair will be working on charity projects in the UK. Their appointment is in addition to the couple’s UK PR chief James Holt, who has been working with the Sussexes since they left the royal sphere.
Meghan and Harry have also hired a string of new people in the US too, including a head of communications, a press secretary and a chief of staff.
However, the hiring of these aides from their former life as royals will be surprising to some after claims the couple could not trust many people at the Palace.
In the 2020 book ‘Finding Freedom’, authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand claimed Meghan and Harry thought their staff at Kensington Palace were leaking to the press.
There were reportedly just “a handful” of people they could trust, including their private secretary Samantha Cohen, PR hotshot Sara Latham, communications secretary Marnie Gaffney and James Holt, who they took on post-Megxit.
It was claimed that outside this core team of four people “no information was safe”, yet the Sussexes seem to trust two additional aides enough to rehire them.
The book read: “The couple tried to air these frustrations internally, but the conversations not only didn’t lead anywhere, the details of them would usually leak to one of the British newspapers.
“At this point, there was just a handful of people working at the Palace they could trust, including Sara, communications aide James Holt, communications secretary Marnie Gaffney (who was made a member of the Royal Victorian Orderby the Queen, an honour recognising personal service to the monarch or members of the Royal Family, during a June 2019 investiture), and their top aide, private secretary Samantha Cohen.
“Outside this core team, no information was safe.
“A friend of the couple referred to the old guard as ‘the vipers’.
“Meanwhile, an equally frustrated Palace staffer described the Sussexes’ team as the ‘squeaky third wheel’ of the Palace.”
While Ms Loughran was mentioned briefly in the book, she was not listed here as being one of the couple’s four most trusted aides, and Ms Herlihy was not mentioned at all.
New Zealand-born Ms Loughran is married to Harry’s former assistant communications secretary Nick Loughran and has worked for the prince since 2015, organising his official engagements and charitable initiatives.
She was also the woman pictured handing Meghan her flowers as she arrived at Windsor Castle on her wedding day.
Ms Loughran was made a Member of the Victorian Order, an honour given to those who have served the monarchy with dedication in a personal capacity, by the Queen on Harry’s recommendation.
Ms Herlihy worked as the Sussexes’ programme manager from September 2018.
She also worked alongside Harry for more than four years as an events coordinator at the Royal Foundation, a charity which was started by Harry, William and Kate.
The women, both in their thirties, were among 15 staff members who lost their jobs after Meghan and Harry quit last year.
After they were let go, they formed Herlihy Loughran, which describes itself as an “advisory partnership” linking “influential people” and organisations to good causes.
The Duke and Duchess of Susex are among their first clients.
Meanwhile, in the US, Meghan and Harry have appointed Toya Holness as their press secretary and Catherine St Laurent as their chief of staff and executive director of Archewell.
According to the Daily Mail, the couple’s bill for expanding their team could easily top £1million a year, not even including personal assistants, staff working on their production and podcast ventures, household employees and private security.
Industry experts said the wage for the three US appointments alone was unlikely to be less than £650,000 a year plus benefits.
PR expert Mark Borkowski said: “There’s clearly a big operation being set up there.
“What will be interesting to see is whether these people challenge the way [the couple] go about things.
“The focus on them is pretty relentless and they clearly want to change the narrative around them now they are trying to launch themselves in America.”