Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have stepped down from the royal family's duties, but they are not done with public service. Most of the couple's work these days, from philanthropy to media, falls under Archewell Inc's umbrella. However, the organization's work is so broad that it can be hard to sum it all up succinctly.
Archewell Inc., in its current form, is a public organization founded by Prince Harry and Markle in 2020 and is based in Beverly Hills, California, where they now live. It builds on the work that the two of them did when they lived in Buckingham Palace with the rest of the royal family and their personal efforts. It also encompasses "creative media ventures" of all kinds, building on Markle's history as an actress and their Hollywood connections.
Like its founders, Archewell is in the headlines this week following Markle and Prince Harry's explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey. In the wide-ranging talk, the couple explained why they decided to leave the royal family, cleared up some of the rumors and gossip about their lives in the palace and condemned the British tabloids for their coverage of Markle.
However, these personal detours did not distract entirely from the day-to-day work that Markle and Prince Harry do with Archewell, as a sudden spike in fan interest shows. Here is a break-down of what the organization is, what it has done, and its intent.
Why Is It Called Archwell?
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First, the name Archwell was reportedly in the works before Markle and Prince Harry named their son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor. The organization's website puts the etymology and spelling of the words "arche" and "well" side by side, explaining that arche is a "Greek word meaning 'source of action,' and well means "a plentiful source or supply; a place we go to dig deep."
"Before SussexRoyal came the idea of 'arche' — the Greek word meaning 'source of action,'" Markle and Prince Harry explained in a public statement last year. "We connected to this concept for the charitable organization we hoped to build one day, and it became the inspiration for our son's name. To do something of meaning, to do something that matters. Archewell is a name that combines an ancient word for strength and action, and another that evokes the deep resources we each must draw upon. We look forward to launching Archewell when the time is right."prevnext
Archewell Inc. is comprised of three subsidiaries: the Archewell Foundation, Archewell Productions and Archewell Audio. The first of these is the philanthropic non-profit arm of the company, with the stated goal of "uplifting and uniting communities" of all kinds through "one act of compassion at a time."
In practice, that means that the foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit which partners with other organizations and gives a platform to others. Its website currently lists five primary partnerships — Stanford Medicine's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, the Center for Humane Technology, The Loveland Foundation, the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry and the World Central Kitchen.
These organizations have varying goals and receive varying forms of support from Archewell, though notably two of them are specifically dedicated to promoting a healthier use of social media and other new technologies. The Center for Humane Technology may be the most familiar to fans, who saw its founder Tristan Harris on the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma. Archewell stated boldly: "We believe that compassion is the defining cultural force of the 21st century."prevnext
Meanwhile, Archewell Productions is a media production company that has partnered with Netflix to create "programming that informs, elevates, and inspires." Archewell Productions has signed a commercial deal with Netflix to develop all kinds of content for the platform, including "develop scripted and unscripted series, film, documentaries, and children's programming."
So far, none of these developing projects have gone public, but many fans expect the couple's famous friends to get involved when they do. Since the Royal Wedding, the only movie Markle has been involved in was the nature documentary Elephant on Disney+, which she narrated.prevnext
Finally, Archewell Inc. also includes Archewell Audio, an audio-producing company with a similar altruistic agenda. The company has signed a multi-year deal with Spotify to release exclusive podcasts. One episode came out on Dec. 29, 2020, featuring both Markle and Prince Harry as well as guests Elton John, James Corden, Stacey Abrams and Tyler Perry.
Archewell's website indicates that this is not all the audio arm will do. In addition to more podcasts later on, the company has promised "diverse perspectives and voices" as well as "powerful narratives," giving some fans hope for audiobooks, scripted audio shows and perhaps even music at some point. So far, no new projects have been announced.prevnext
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Archewell Inc. began technically began in 2020, though for nearly a year before that Markle and Prince Harry were working on the same ideas through a private company called Sussex Royal. Sussex Royal was registered in the U.K. on July 1, 2019. However, when the couple decided to step away from official royal duties, they also forfeited that branding, according to a report by Fox News.
Markle's lawyers then applied for a trademark for Archewell on March 3, 2020. The company then spent months working with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to define the scope of Archewell's activities in a way that could be legally binding. The Archewell website "officially" launched in October of 2020, and has since grown steadily alongside their work.prevnext
Since Archewell launched in 2020, it was inevitable that the coronavirus pandemic would play into its mission and its branding. Sure enough, a source close to Markle and Prince Harry told reporters from PEOPLE that helping with the public health crisis in any way possible was one of their driving motivations.
"Nobody could have counted on the world turning upside down," they said. "As many others have, they have been moved to get their voices behind supporting both the COVID-19 response and Black Lives Matter. But that's not separate or a diversion from the values and mission that will be reflected in Archewell. You'll see what they're focused on now will also be reflected in the core of the organization. They are excited to see it all come together. It's what they have always dreamed of doing together."prevnext
Finally, there's no doubt that Archewell is closely linked to Markle and Prince Harry's exit from royal life, and for many fans, it will always be emblematic of that exit. A royal spokesperson even told Fox News that there are "specific U.K. government rules surrounding use of the word 'Royal,'" leading to the rebranding from "Sussex Royal."
In many ways, the intrigue and drama of the royal exit culminated in Sunday's interview, making this a huge moment for Archewell as well as its founders. The full interview is streaming now for free on CBS.com.prev