Prince Harry and Meghan Markle spent more money on legal fees for their charities than they raised in 2020, filings reveal.
The Sussexes’ US charity Archewell told the IRS in December that it raised less than $50,000 in 2020 — only opening a bank account last January.
And documents for their UK charity Sussex Royal, which changed its name to MWX Foundation in 2020 and is currently being dissolved, show that between June 2020 and June 2021 spent more than $55,000 on legal fees including attorneys’ costs for wrapping up the nonprofit.
Meghan and Harry’s charities have been mired in controversy since their launch, revealing family divisions and were hit with a UK watchdog investigation and criticism over their use of opaque and secretive Delaware corporations.
UK Companies House filings show the defunct British charity had more than $380,000 in its accounts in 2020, and spent at least $55,600 on attorneys, including about $35,000 to Harbottle & Lewis and $20,600 to an unidentified law firm.
The Sussexes launched Archewell (website pictured) in April 2020 after applying to trademark the name the month before
The Sussexes’ American charity Archewell was set up in April 2020 but did not open its bank account until January 2021 their lawyers say. Archewell received its first deposit the following month, according to the foundation’s filings.
Charities are required to file a public ‘Form 990’ with the IRS each year which details their finances. Most charities that receive less than $50,000 are only required to file a ‘postcard’ with some very limited information.
This month, Harry and Meghan’s charity told the IRS its gross receipts for 2020 were less than $50,000.
The lack of donations to the former royals’ charity last year could come as a surprise after news of its launch made headlines around the world in April 2020.
But sources close to Harry and Meghan told the Telegraph last year they were delaying any official Archewell projects to focus on the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement and would begin in earnest ‘when the time is right’.
The Sussexes incorporated their US charity in Delaware on April 17, 2020, after applying for the ‘Archewell’ trademark the month before.
They applied for federal tax-exempt status in August 2020 and received it on October 22 that year, backdated to the day the charity was set up.
If the Sussexes raised more than $50,000 in 2021, they will be required to file more detailed accounts next December.
Harry and Meghan’s charities have been a source of controversy from their inception.
The filings list Meghan and Harry as the directors of the nonprofit organization
The couple launched Sussex Royal in the UK in July 2019 after splitting from the joint foundation they shared with Harry’s brother Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton, fueling rumors of a family feud.
Then in July 2020, anti-monarchy advocacy group Republic accused Sussex Royal of creating a conflict of interest by transferring funds from William and Kate’s Royal Foundation to their new charity.
The UK’s watchdog the Charity Commission investigated but cleared Sussex Royal of any wrongdoing in May 2021.
Filings show the couple spent more money on legal fees that came with dissolving their now-defunct UK charity Sussex Royal
‘They were fully in line with governance requirements and were reported transparently,’ a Royal Foundation spokesperson told Vanity Fair at the time.
The Commission criticized the Sussexes for potentially wasting donors’ money by founding then quickly dissolving a charity.
‘A substantial proportion of funds went into setting up and then winding up a charity that was active for a relatively short period of time,’ Helen Earner, the commission’s director of regulatory services, said in a statement.
‘Trustees cannot predict future events when establishing a new charity -circumstances can change after a charity has been set up. But all trustees, before setting up a charity, should think about the longer term, and consider carefully whether a new charity is the best way of achieving the intended aims.’
When the Sussexes stepped down as royals in 2020 the Queen told them they couldn’t use ‘royal’ in their branding anymore, forcing the couple to change the organization’s name to MWX Foundation.
Meghan and Harry launched Sussex Royal in the UK in July 2019 after splitting from the joint foundation they shared with Harry’s brother Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton. The four are pictured during their first Royal Foundation Forum in London in 2018
If the Sussexes raised more than $50,000 in 2021, they will be required to file more detailed accounts next December. Pictured: IRS Form 990 e-Postcard for Archewell
The company set up to hold up the Archewell trademark was founded in Delaware – and appears to have failed to file documents required by the California Secretary of State
After relocating to California, the couple decided to dissolve their UK charity and set up a new US nonprofit, Archewell.
UK Companies House filings for MWX’s liquidation show that in 2020 it had a bank account containing £289,106.90 (about $381,600).
The ‘annual progress report’ filed in August says legal fees paid to Harbottle & Lewis LLP and others, including fees to wrap up the organization currently total £42,161 (about $55,600) and are likely to rise.
The report says MWX made a grant of £213,000 ($287,000) to ‘a not-for-profit enterprise’, of which it paid £134,500 ($181,405) last year and says it plans to pay the rest before MWX is finally shut down.
A source close to the couple told DailyMail.com that the non-profit was Travalyst, Prince Harry’s sustainable travel company. They said that when MWX Foundation was closed down, all money was transferred to the travel firm.
Travalyst does not yet appear in the UK Charity Commission’s list of non-profits, and its latest annual report up to July 2021 describes the firm as a ‘private company limited by guarantee’, owned by Harry.
‘The company’s principal activity is to promote global awareness of the importance of sustainable tourism by aligning the world’s leading travel brands on how to report sustainability across their platforms in ways that help consumers make better decisions,’ the report said.
The source said there is no financial connection between Travalyst and Archewell. The UK Charity Commission found there were no breaches of charity law in MWX’s dealings.
Financial details of the Sussexes’ charities and companies in the US are far scanter, thanks to their decision to incorporate their organizations in Delaware, notorious for its lack of corporate transparency.
Anti-corruption organization Transparency International has slammed the state as ‘a place where extreme corporate secrecy enables corrupt people, shady companies, drug traffickers, embezzlers and fraudsters to cover their tracks when shifting dirty money from one place to another,’ – although law-abiding businesses also incorporate there.
A handout by Archewell shows Prince Harry taking part in a Q&A with the San Francisco-based company BetterUp, which provides coaching and mental health services to businesses and individuals
Though both Archewell’s HQ and the couple’s home are in California, all their charities and associated companies are incorporated in Delaware.
Cobblestone Lane LLC was incorporated in February 2020 and five days later was used as the applicant to file for the Archewell trademark.
Though both Archewell and Cobblestone are based in California, there are no filings for the LLC registered with the California Secretary of State.
According to the legal site, UpCounsel: ‘Before any business can conduct and transact interstate or intrastate business in the state, the company must register and qualify with the California Secretary of State.
‘This means that if you plan to do business in California, your business must be registered.’
The Sussexes’ opaque corporate setup also appears at odds with the transparency goals of their new business partners, financial firm Ethic.
Harry and Meghan invested in the company and were announced as ‘impact partners’ of the sustainable investment firm in October 2021.
On its website, the company says the former royals ‘want to shine a light on how we can all impact the causes that affect our communities, bring transparency into how the corporate world sets the tone and shapes outcomes for everyday families, and believe that more people should have a seat at the table when it comes to making progress.’
Harry and Meghan’s lawyers did not answer DailyMail.com’s questions as to why the Sussexes chose Delaware for their company and charity incorporations.
Although Archewell did not begin its work in earnest until 2021, Harry and Meghan donned hairnets, masks, and aprons in June 2020 to help prepare meals at Homeboy Industries, an LA charity aimed at training former gang members to give them a second chance. The event was not officially linked to Archewell.
In December 2020 Bloomberg reported that the Sussexes were partnering with celebrity chef José Andrés’s charity World Central Kitchen to fund four ‘Community Relief Centers’ for emergencies or natural disasters.
The centers were planned initially for hurricane-hit Dominica and Puerto Rico, as kitchens with the possibility to later transform into schools or medical centers.
In the final days of 2020, the Archewell website was updated to reveal some of the plans already in place for Harry and Meghan’s charity.
The couple set up a fund for a research center at UCLA to champion racial and economic justice in the technology industry.
The organization called the UCLA Center for Critical Internet (C2i2) Inquiry is co-directed by Dr. Safiya Noble, who also appeared in conversation with the Sussexes at an October 2020 conference organized by the couple, TIME100 Talks.
On December 31, 2020, an Archewell spokesperson told Harper’s Bazaar the charity would be partnering with The Loveland Foundation, a nonprofit providing therapy to black women and girls.
Cobblestone Lane LLC was incorporated in Delaware in February 2020 and five days later was used as the applicant to file for the Archewell trademark
A filing for Archewell with the California Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts says the foundation is ‘an impact-driven nonprofit created by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Archewell Foundation’s core purpose is to uplift and unite communities – local and global, online and offline – one act of compassion at a time.’
‘Archewell Foundation believes that compassion is the defining cultural force of the 21st century and, through its work, Archewell Foundation supports a growing community of partner organizations fueling systemic cultural change,’ the filing says.
‘Archewell Foundation listens to people and their communities, helps them tell their stories, puts real action behind its words, and spotlights a new generation of leadership.’