The first three episodes of the Netflix docu-series Harry & Meghan, which premiered December 8, have shed light on royal drama, revealed the true cruelty of the media and outlined the key players behind the palace doors. Chief among them is Jason Knauf – a name that sounds familiar, even if a title doesn’t immediately spring to mind. But whether you know him or not, 38-year-old Knauf, who became communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in 2015, has played a huge part in the lives of the young royals. As James Holt, Executive Director of the Archewell Foundation and former Palace spokesman, explains in the third episode of the docuseries: “For every duke and duchess there is also a communications team. Communication for the royal family is very similar to a press office. Press spokesman for politics and business, celebrities.”
Archewell strategic advisor Tim Burt adds, “These communications teams allow the family to be one step away from dealing with the media,” with the overall intention of maintaining control of the narrative. For Harry and Meghan, Knauf was the person leading this effort, which even they admit was a daunting task. “Our communications team was linked to my brother’s office at the time. So all in all, there was only one person who really cared about us,” says Harry.
Meghan recalls the salacious media frenzy the couple has already faced. “I don’t think anyone understands what this very small communications team was dealing with,” Meghan says. “They just couldn’t turn around [it]and I have sympathy for that.” She goes on to explain how she was guided in all aspects of her relationships, even saying not to invite her own niece, Ashleigh, to her wedding. The focus seemed to be on minimizing bad press and releasing the “right” image.
Knauf was also hired to help the royals write personal letters. After Meghan sued Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) for allegedly publishing a “personal and private” letter she wrote to her father, the two appeared to have a tenuous relationship. The British Newspaper The times reported that Knauf was the anonymous employee who filed a complaint against Meghan with HR in 2018, saying she bullied other employees.
After all that drama, Knauf left Kensington Palace in 2019 to become Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. After his LinkedIn pageKnauf left that post earlier this year and now holds multiple titles, including founder of Mission Overstory and board member of the Earthshot Prize.