Jason Knauf was an American from Texas who rose to power within the royal family across the pond and now finds himself as a central figure in a scandal surrounding Prince Harry and Meghan Markle many months after he resigned from his duties to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Knauf did not stray far from his position within the palace. Today, he leads a charitable organization for Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Knauf was the communications director for Prince Harry when his relationship with Meghan Markle began. He issued an unprecedented statement from Prince Harry, describing a “smear campaign” against Markle in the media. He resigned from his duties to Prince Harry and Markle one month after sending an email that accused Markle of bullying staff. His career within Kensington Palace began with Prince William and Kate Middleton, and evolved into a position with a mental health campaign. Now, Knauf works for Prince William and Kate Middleton on a separate mental health campaign.
Markle and Prince Harry will speak to Oprah Winfrey in a highly anticipated two-hour interview, which airs on CBS at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 7, 2021. The couple has denied the reports of bullying, and said Knauf’s old emails were leaked to discredit her words to Oprah. Markle told Oprah her time in the royal family was “almost unsurvivable.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Knauf’s Mom, Joanne Knauf, Told Her Son He Could Be Anything But the King of England, & Says He Came As Close As Possible to Achieving That
Knuaf joined Kensington Palace by orchestrating the media outside St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington when the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, gave birth, according to a newspaper in his hometown in Texas, the Courier of Montgomery County. Knauf’s mother, Joanne Knauf, spoke with the newspaper in 2018 when he was organizing the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
“Jason is so honored as an American to have this position and it is quite unusual to have an American at this height (with) the royal family,” she told the newspaper.
As a young person, she said he was shaken by the death of Princess Diana and became determined to make a difference with media.
“He has been focused on how he can make a difference in world,” his mom, Joanne Knauf, told the newspaper. “He was really shocked when [the late Princess] Diana died. He always said media needed controlling and I think he is in a position now to make a difference.”
“I always told the kids they can be whatever they want to be, they just can’t be the King of England, I think he got as close as you can get,” she added. “It’s quite incredible, a pinch-able moment as a parent, and he handles it with grace. It’s about all you can ask as a parent, really.”
One of Knauf’s First Duties Within the Royal Family Was the Heads Together Mental Health Campaign With Prince Harry, Prince William & Kate Middleton; He Now Works for Prince William & Middleton for a Mental Health Charity
Knauf worked with Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, along with Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, on the trio’s Heads Together campaign, a mental health initiative within the royal family. Now, he is the chief executive officer for The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, according to his LinkedIn page. Heads Together is one of the Royal Foundation’s initiatives.
“I feel incredibly lucky to have started my career alongside great political leaders,” he said in a statement to Stuff in New Zealand, where he worked as a speech writer to high-level politicians. “One highlight was working with Michael Cullen as he transformed the Treaty of Waitangi settlements process and made historic decisions such as buying back the railways.”
Knauf was a trusted member of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s staff, and even “contributed” to a letter she wrote her father, Thomas Markle, shortly after their wedding. The letter was leaked to media outlets, PEOPLE reported, who were ordered to issue a front-page apology and a lengthy notice for breaching her privacy.