Nine months ago, in October of 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex appeared as guests on the Teenager Therapy podcast in honor of World Mental Health Day, marking their first appearance in the podcast space. By the end of the year, the couple had announced the launch of their own audio-first production company, Archewell Audio, inking a multiyear, multimillion dollar deal with Spotify to much fanfare.
“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 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.”
The announcement came on December 15, followed by a “2020 Archewell Audio Holiday Special” on December 29—33 minutes of “a special collection of inspiration, reflection, and perspective from guests around the world." Luminaries from Sir Elton John to Dr. Brené Brown to Naomi Osaka—and even the pair’s then 19-month-old son Archie, heard speaking for the first time publicly—made appearances. Then, silence, and a barrage of questions from the public: Where did Archewell Audio go?
Given that the holiday special dropped so soon after the announcement, many assumed that new episodes would come shortly. But a deeper look at the Spotify announcement reveals otherwise: “Ahead of the new year, Archewell Audio and Spotify’s Gimlet studio will release their first offering; a holiday special." Note the use of the word offering, not episode—suggesting that the holiday special was standalone content, not part of a broader series. The release continues: "In 2021, The Duke and Duchess will produce and host podcasts that build community through shared experiences and values,” leaving the door open for exactly when in 2021 the first series will drop.
One possible reason Archewell Audio stalled: The U.S. Patent Office has not yet approved the Sussexes' “Archewell Audio” trademark, royal correspondent Rebecca Taylor reported. “The office has approved Archewell, but the couple have to go back and make more changes to their two other requests, for Audio and Foundation,” she explained in a piece for Yahoo. Clarification needed includes adding disclaimers; making clear the nature of the “live stage performances” the couple say Archewell Audio could hold; and clarifying that the “podcasts, audio programs, music, and audio books” Archewell Audio wishes to trademark are “entertainment-based services.” The Sussexes have until December 25 to make the adjustments.
But that may not be the only reason. To say that a lot happened to the Sussexes in 2021 is an understatement. Professionally, in 2021 Meghan became a bestselling children’s book author with the release of The Bench; Harry released a docuseries with Oprah Winfrey on Apple TV+, The Me You Can’t See; and accepted a new role as chief impact officer at BetterUp. In addition to numerous appearances, the duo launched Archewell’s website, served as campaign chairs of #VaxLive: The Concert to Reunite the World, announced Archewell Productions’ first Netflix series, Heart of Invictus, as well as an animated series called Pearl, and announced a multiyear partnership with Procter & Gamble to focus on gender equality, more inclusive online spaces, and resilience and impact through sport. Oh, and they appeared in the TV event of the year in March, interviewed by Oprah Winfrey to an audience of tens of millions.
The Oprah interview was just one of many personal milestones for the couple in 2021. Following a pregnancy loss last summer, the Sussexes announced they were expecting baby No. 2 on Valentine’s Day; their daughter, Lilibet Diana, was born on June 4. Harry traveled to the U.K. twice, once to mourn the death of his grandfather, Prince Philip, in April, and earlier this month to unveil a statue on what would have been his mother Princess Diana’s sixtieth birthday. Both Harry and Meghan are on parental leave, and sources say they are planning to take “proper time off” to soak in time as a family of four, including celebrating Meghan’s upcoming fortieth birthday on August 4.
Yet, there are signs that Archewell Audio is revving up for its grand debut: In July of 2021, Archewell hired veteran podcast producer Rebecca Sananes as its Head of Audio. And Sananes, who will join the team in August, comes with an impressive resumé: She was lead producer on the award-winning podcast Pivot with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway and has more than a decade's worth of experience in podcasting and journalism. The hire signals that new content is coming—and signals, too, that it will be high-quality.
Even with all of the above at play, we should be able to expect Archewell Audio content this year: An Archewell Audio spokesperson confirmed to Marie Claire that the team is looking forward to sharing more content later in 2021. In the meantime, Harry and Meghan are expected to spend the summer settling into life as a family of four before returning to work in the fall.