Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have “lost another key aide” after splitting with their global press secretary – the latest of at least 12 senior staff members since 2018.
Toya Holness, who holds a degree in Strategic PR from USC, joined Sussex in October 2020 and was promoted to oversee their PR on both sides of the Atlantic last March.
She was previously described as “Meghan’s shadow” – she is often seen wearing the same style of suit and Hollywood sunglasses.
According to the Sunday Times, the former footballer was one of a small band who spoke to Harry and Meghan on a daily basis, but is understood to have parted ways with the couple.
The position has been in the works for just over 12 months, following the departure of Archewell Catherine St Laurent’s chief of staff and director in March last year.
The insider said she was said to “want to leave” after finding she “had to perform many duties for the couple”.
Since their wedding in May 2018, Harry and Meghan have been dogged by the departure of senior aides – including private secretary, communications staff, personal protection officer and executive director of Harry’s sustainable tourism initiative Travalyst.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (pictured in Johannesburg, South Africa, 2019) have lost at least 12 top aides since their wedding
Toya Holness, who has a degree in strategic public relations from USC, parted ways with the couple
Catherine St Laurent was headhunted by the couple at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as their ‘chief of staff’ but resigned after just over a year in the role
Senior aide to leave Sussex since royal wedding
September 2018: Senior Communications Secretary Katrina McKeever
November 2018: Meghan’s personal assistant Melissa Tubati
January 2019: female royal protection officer
March 2019: Assistant Private Secretary Amy Pickrel
March 2019: Senior Communications Secretary Jason Knauf and Christian Jones
October 2019: Private Secretary Samantha Cohen
March 2020: Communications Director Sara Latham
June 2020: Natalie Campbell, Sussex Royal Charities
March 2021: Prince Harry’s Assistant Private Secretary Heather Wang
March 2021: Chief of Staff and Director of Archewell Catherine St Laurent
May 2022: Toya Holness, Global Press Secretary
Senior Communications Secretary Katrina McKeever – the point of contact for Meghan’s family during the couple’s early months of relationship – quietly left their press office in September 2018.
Two months later, Meghan’s personal assistant Melissa Toubati allegedly handed in her notice after the Duchess “brought tears to her request”.
In January 2019, a Queen’s Protection Officer also resigned as Meghan’s top bodyguard.
The officer, who has not been named for security reasons, was head of security for less than a year when Meghan and Harry left.
At the time, a Scotland Yard spokesman said: “This is for personal reasons and has absolutely nothing to do with the Duke or Duchess, who are very disappointed in the loss of her.”
In March 2019, it was announced that Meghan’s deputy private secretary, Amy Pickerill, would be stepping down following Archie’s birth in May.
Meghan described the loss as “very sad”, with sources insisting the move abroad with Ms Pickerer was amicable.
She has played a key role in the Duchess’ royal tour to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga, including helping to bring Meghan to safety in times of market panic.
In the same month, Jason Knaeff resigned as the couple’s senior communications secretary to the Sussex and Cambridges to become chief executive of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Royal Foundation.
Christian Jones joins Mr. Knauf.
Katrina McKeever (pictured) quietly left Harry and Meghan’s press office in September 2018
Meghan’s personal assistant Melissa Toubati (left) is said to have delivered her notice after the Duchess “brought her to tears at her request”.A female Royal Protection Officer (right) quit her job as Meghan’s top bodyguard two months later
In March 2019, it was announced that Meghan’s deputy private secretary, Amy Pickerell (left), would be stepping down following Archie’s birth in May.Private Secretary Samantha Cohen (right) resigned from her high-profile role in October of the following year
Jason Knauf (pictured) has stepped down as the Sussex and Cambridge couple’s senior communications secretary to become chief executive of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Royal Foundation
Private Secretary Samantha Cohen poses with Meghan and the Queen at Buckingham Palace in June 2018
The Sussex’s communications director Sara Latham (pictured) was made redundant when the couple decided to leave the UK for California
Natalie Campbell (right) was poached from Kate (second from right) and William’s foundation, but was hired by the Sussexes as ‘director of insight and innovation’
Heather Wong (pictured) resigned as executive director of Prince Harry’s Travalyst in March last year
The long-serving royal aide and former private secretary to Queen Samantha Cohen left in December 2018.
Ms. Cohen resigned to volunteer at Cool Earth, an organization that aims to stop tropical deforestation.
Diversity activist and social entrepreneur Natalie Campbell took charge of Sussex Royal Charities in June 2020 after just five months.
Ms Campbell – hailed as a key employee of the Harry and Meghan leadership foundation – has left to become chief executive of water company Belu.
Sarah Latham, the Sussexes’ communications director, was sacked when the couple decided to leave the UK for California via Canada.
Ms Latham went on to advise on special projects for the Queen’s Private Office.
Before Harry and Meghan stepped down from the royal family, Heather Wong, who had been assistant private secretary to the Duke of Sussex for three years at Kensington Palace, resigned as executive director of Travalyst in March last year.
Ms Holness’ departure this week comes as the publication date of Harry’s memoirs remains a mystery.
The autobiography, which is “tentatively” due to be published later this year, promises to be “a first-hand account of my life, accurate and completely true”.
He is widely expected to display his memories of his mother Diana, the Princess of Wales and his parents’ marriage breakdown.
But last week publisher Penguin Random House was unable to provide a release date.
However, the delay could be welcomed amid concerns that Meghan and Harry’s return to the UK could be the “focus” of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Earlier this month, a sensational statement said the couple and the Duke of York would not be invited to the balcony for the parade, a spectacular start to her long weekend of celebrations.
Just 18 minutes later, the defiant Sussexes revealed in a tweet via their friend and journalist Omid Scobie that they would still be flying in from California – Archie, three, today and Lilibet, 11 months – for the memorial Events for the monarch’s 70th anniversary begin on the throne on 2 June.
But tonight there were warnings that the couple’s mere return to the UK could overshadow the festivities.
However, Scobie also claimed that the couple never wanted to be on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
Still, he said the couple were “very eager” to be involved in the coming months, including the Thanksgiving celebrations at St Paul’s Cathedral.