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Team Sussex assembles: Duke and Duchess appoint media executive as new charity director

Hannah Furness
Karen Blackett

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have appointed a leading media executive as the first trustee of their Sussex Royal Foundation.

Karen Blackett was listed as a director of the couple's new charitable body at Companies House on Thursday, and joins a growing team who will plan and deliver the Sussex's public charitable work. 

She joins Natalie Campbell, a social entrepreneur who worked for the old Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Duke and Duchess of Sussex as 'director of insight and innovation', and moved with the younger couple to a new role. 

The Sussexes set up their own foundation earlier this year after splitting from their joint charity with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Sources at the time denied there was a feud, saying it was "largely about preparing both couples for their future roles, which are obviously on divergent tracks".

Ms Blackett is chairwoman of media agency MediaCom UK and country manager of marketing and communications firm WPP.

Karen Blackett, a new director of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's Royal Foundation

She was named number one in the 2015 Powerlist of the 100 most influential people of African or African Caribbean heritage in the UK.

The first businesswoman to top the list, she was also awarded an OBE for services to the media industry in 2014.

Ms Blackett, 48, has been at MediaCom for more than 20 years, becoming chief executive in 2011 and chairwoman in 2016.

She has described being told as a teenager that her only career choices were to be a nurse or a teacher.

Ms Blackett wrote in The Guardian in 2014 on how role models can help the business world reflect the reality of social diversity, saying: "Young minorities usually have a limited number of role models, and so choose their life paths from a narrow palette of options."

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have launched a new foundation Credit: PA

She added: "Publications such as the power list address the first of these problems.

"The role models they showcase allow the next generation to know that anything should be possible.

"I am a single mother to a five-year-old boy and I want my son to truly know that he can be whatever he chooses to be, without any barriers related to his skin colour."

In 2012, she launched an apprenticeship scheme for 18-24 year-olds at MediaCom with the National Apprenticeship Service.

As well as roles as chancellor of Portsmouth University and on the board at Creative England, on her Twitter bio she lists herself as an "exhausted Mum".

The Cambridges and Sussexes have split their Royal Foundation Credit: Reuters

She was a guest editor of BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour in 2017.

Ms Blackett says on MediaCom's website: "My role is to connect people from different walks of life to make magic happen. "

In an interview with Marie Claire in 2015, she was described as a "game-changer".

Her approach to working mothers is likely to appeal to the Duchess, mother of three-month-old baby Archie.

"I create a culture where you're allowed to bring yourself to work," Ms Blackett said, stressing the importance of family-based initiatives.

"I want to recognise if some of our female talent is struggling with blending their work and home lives."