Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Archewell Foundation has found itself at the center of a legal and financial scandal, as reports emerge of the charity's delinquent status with the California Registry of Charities and Fundraisers. The non-profit organization, launched by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in 2020, allegedly failed to submit required annual fiscal records and pay registration renewal fees since February 2023, leading to a delinquency notice and warnings of potential penalties and suspension.

News of the controversy broke while the royal couple was on a tour in Nigeria, where they had announced an expansion of a partnership between The GEANCO Foundation in Abuja and the Archewell Foundation. However, according to the delinquency notice dated May 3, Archewell is prohibited from engaging in charitable activities, including soliciting or disbursing funds, until the issues are resolved.

Royal author Tom Quinn shared his insights with The Mirror, stating, "According to friends of the couple, Harry and Meghan were almost hysterical when they were told their charity Archewell had been banned from charitable activities for failing to pay their registration fee." Quinn added that while the couple insists it was a simple mistake, "it looks like incompetence."

The Archewell Foundation claims that the check was unintentionally not included when the filings were made and has mailed a new one in hopes of swiftly resolving the problem. A source close to the foundation told The Mirror, "For whatever reason, it has not been cashed. As soon as the foundation learnt of the problem, they immediately issued another cheque."

Despite the foundation's efforts to rectify the situation, the scandal has cast doubt on the organization's governance and transparency. CharityWatch, an independent charity watchdog in the United States, notes that Archewell's board consists of only two members, Meghan and Harry, which falls short of widely accepted best practices in the U.S. that advise a minimum board size of five to seven members.

The delinquency scandal comes on the heels of reports revealing a significant decline in donations to the Archewell Foundation. Tax filings disclosed by the charity in December 2023 showed that it received just over $2 million in charitable donations in 2022, compared to $13 million in 2021. Additionally, the foundation recorded a loss of more than $674,000 in 2022 due to costs of $2.67 million.

Further scrutiny has been directed at the compensation of Archewell's Executive Director, James Holt, who earned a salary of $277,405, including a $20,000 bonus in 2022, representing a 280% increase from his salary of less than $60,000 in 2021.

In response to the controversy, California governor Gavin Newsom defended Archewell during a press conference, stating, "I just want folks to know, not only are they in compliance, it was a technical paperwork issue that was wildly over-hyped." The California attorney general's press office also confirmed to The LA Times that the organization is now "current and in good standing."