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The Sussexes’ streaming shake-up

<i>Paul Grover/Getty Images</i><br/>The Duke of Cambridge laughs while visiting the newly opened BAFTA headquarters.
Getty Images
Paul Grover/Getty Images
The Duke of Cambridge laughs while visiting the newly opened BAFTA headquarters.

By Max Foster and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

It looks like it’s all systems go for Harry and Meghan as the new year gets underway.

Production plans for their various media ventures appear to be ramping up following a pause over the past year, if a series of job ads posted online this week are anything to go by.

Global music streaming platform Spotify is looking for several producers through its podcast arm, Gimlet Projects. The job listings offer candidates a six-month contract in Los Angeles.

“We’re currently assembling a show team that will build and launch a new original show with Archewell featuring the voices of high profile women,” one ad reads.

The listings reveal the company is seeking staff “to help us develop and launch an exciting new weekly show” and applicants should be interested “in the intersection of social activism and popular culture.”

You’ll remember that when the couple revealed their intention to step back as senior royals two years ago, they also expressed a desire to be “financially independent.” After moving to the United States, they inked multiple deals to produce content with several of the world’s biggest streaming services.

Spotify landed an exclusive partnership with the Sussexes’ Archewell Audio production company back in December 2020, with a press release revealing the pair would “host and produce podcasts that build community through shared experience, narratives, and values.”

“What we love about podcasting is that it reminds all of us to take a moment and to really listen, to connect to one another without distraction,” Harry and Meghan said in a joint statement at the time.

“With the challenges of 2020, there has never been a more important time to do so, because when we hear each other, and hear each other’s stories, we are reminded of how interconnected we all are.”

They released a holiday special later that month and their first series was expected last year but the airwaves have been silent since.

As well as the audio offerings on the way, it looks like things are also full steam ahead for Meghan’s animated Netflix project, “Pearl.”

The streamer is searching for a production designer for the series, which follows the adventures of a “12-year-old girl who finds inspiration in a variety of influential women throughout history,” according to a job ad posted to LinkedIn.

Another venture in the works from Archewell’s multi-year deal with Netflix is “Heart of Invictus,” a docu-series following “a group of extraordinary competitors from around the globe, all service members who have suffered life-changing injuries or illnesses on their road to the Invictus Games The Hague 2020, now set to take place in 2022,” according to a press release last April. Director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara, who won an Oscar for their 2016 short film “The White Helmets,” are also attached to the project.

The team at Archewell are tight-lipped on what to expect this year so we’ll have to wait on the announcement for the specifics.

What we now know is that production is ramping up and the next test for the Sussexes will be the same as for any media execs — how will their content rate? It’s payback time for Netflix and Spotify and, when you look at the way they are hiring, both seem confident of Sussex success.


Queen travels to her country retreat.

The Queen has made a special pilgrimage to her country home of Sandringham. A palace spokesperson told CNN she relocated on Sunday and is expected to stay at the sprawling 20,000-acre estate for the next few weeks. This means she is likely to be there for Accession Day — the day she ascended the throne — on February 6. The Queen’s annual trip at Christmas, which usually involves immediate family, was canceled as a precaution amid concerns over the Omicron variant. She instead celebrated the holiday season at Windsor. (Reporting by CNN’s Eleanor Pickston)

Andrew demands trial by jury in Virginia Giuffre lawsuit.

We’ve all been curious about how the Duke of York intends to address the civil suit against him in the US, and this week he gave us the strongest signal yet. Prince Andrew formally denied allegations that he sexually abused Virginia Giuffre, and demanded a jury trial, according to a legal filing Wednesday in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. In the 11-page filing, Andrew’s lawyers responded paragraph-by-paragraph to the allegations in Giuffre’s lawsuit. “Prince Andrew denies that he was a co-conspirator of Epstein or that Epstein trafficked girls to him,” his attorneys Andrew B. Brettler and Melissa Y. Lerner wrote. He also denied he was a “close friend” of Ghislaine Maxwell or that he became a “frequent guest” in Epstein’s homes around the world. On other points, the attorneys wrote that the prince “lacks sufficient information to admit or deny the allegations.” Giuffre’s attorney, David Boies, said in a statement that they looked forward to a trial. Read more on this story here.

Court to hear legal challenge over Prince Philip’s will.

The UK Court of Appeal will hear a fresh legal challenge from the Guardian newspaper over Prince Philip’s will. We told you a few months back that the paper wanted to take action over the media’s exclusion from a private hearing on the Duke of Edinburgh’s will, after which the document was sealed for 90 years. The media wasn’t told of the July hearing or permitted to attend, with the public interest represented by the attorney general. A Guardian News & Media spokesperson previously told us in an emailed statement that the High Court’s decision to block the media was “a clear threat to the principles of open justice.” This week, Lady Justice King gave her permission and said: “There is a real prospect of the applicant succeeding on the ground that the High Court erred in law in denying the media an opportunity to make submissions, or at least to attend and hear submissions, as to whether the substantive application to seal the will of His Late Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh should be heard in private.” A court date has not yet been set.


The Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, is getting a new name as the sex abuse civil case against the British royal moves forward in the US. “We are changing the name to move in a different direction due to the negative reports about Prince Andrew,” school principal Craig Campbell told CNN in an email. “We hope to build our identity as a positive, supportive school community with a name to match.” Local residents will have a chance to submit name suggestions to a six-person renaming committee that includes students, staff and community members. Get the whole story.


Prince Charles appeared visibly moved while speaking with Holocaust survivor Lily Ebert as she showed him her concentration camp tattoo earlier this week. The Prince of Wales commissioned seven portraits of some of Britain’s remaining Holocaust survivors for a new Buckingham Palace exhibition. Attending the unveiling at The Queen’s Gallery on Monday, Charles, who is patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, spoke with several sitters.

The prince also wrote the foreword for the exhibition’s program, in which he said “these portraits represent something far greater than seven remarkable individuals.” He continued: “They stand as a living memorial to the six million innocent men, women, and children whose stories will never be told, whose portraits will never be painted.” Charles also wrote of his hope that the special collection of portraits will become a reminder “not only about history’s darkest days, but of humanity’s interconnectedness as we strive to create a better world for our children, grandchildren and generations as yet unborn; one where hope is victorious over despair and love triumphs over hate.”


Prince William checks out the new BAFTA HQ.

Prince William took in a tour of the newly refurbished British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) building on Thursday. He spoke to BAFTA bursary and scholarship recipients, as well as participants in the charity’s mentoring program. The Duke of Cambridge has been the president of BAFTA since 2010 and the new headquarters will support more than 80,000 people to develop their creative arts careers, according to the charity. (Writing by CNN’s Jeevan Ravindran)

Kate visits charity as it marks milestone moment.

It was a memorable week for mental health service Shout. The text-messaging platform marked reaching over a million conversations with those in need by welcoming a special royal guest. Catherine, along with Prince William and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, launched the 24/7 free text service through their Heads Together campaign back in 2019. During her visit on Wednesday, Kate expressed gratitude to clinical supervisors, volunteers and fundraisers for their work, which has seen usage on its platform increase by 140% since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. She joined a live demonstration before speaking directly with volunteers about their experiences of supporting people struggling to cope.


Chanel sends princess on horseback down the runway in Paris.

The French fashion house unveiled its latest collection in dramatic style at Haute Couture Week in Paris — by sending a real-life princess down the runway on horseback. To the surprise of guests at the Grand Palais Éphémère, it opened Tuesday’s show with the help of Prince Albert of Monaco’s niece, Charlotte Casiraghi, who is also a competitive showjumper. Wearing a sequined Chanel jacket and black helmet, Casiraghi emerged on horseback, trotting down the catwalk accompanied by a live performance from musician Sébastien Tellier. Find out more here.

Camilla paid tribute to domestic violence charity Refuge on its 50-year anniversary, following a visit to the organization’s very first shelter, which opened in Chiswick, west London back in 1971. Marking the developments in service provision for survivors in the decades since, Camilla said she remembered “how different life was for women and, above all, for women living with abuse” who were “prisoners in their own homes; held captive by the one person they should have been able to trust.” The duchess also said Refuge had brought domestic abuse “into the national consciousness” before sharing her hope the problem would one day be entirely eradicated.

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