PR guru rejects job as Princess of Wales's new private secretary
The “straight talking” PR guru hired as the Princess of Wales’s new private secretary has opted to stay with chef Jamie Oliver rather than take up the role, The Telegraph can reveal.
Alison Corfield, 51, is understood to have been uncomfortable with the prospect of having such a high-profile position and decided instead to remain under the radar.
The mother of three, a branding and marketing expert, has worked with Oliver for eight years. A source said: “She loves the work and is an integral member of the campaigning team.
“She decided she just wanted to keep her head down and get on with the job she knows so well in the background. She didn't want the publicity that comes with working at that level for such a well-known institution.”
The decision means that Kensington Palace aides have had to return to the drawing board in their search for the ideal candidate who will play a large part in shaping the Princess’s role.
Hannah Cockburn-Logie, the Princess’s last private secretary, was a fixture at her side for two-and-a-half years but stepped down shortly after the death of Queen Elizabeth II last September for personal reasons.
She had been hired by the then Duchess of Cambridge in May 2020, having impressed her when, as a diplomat working for the British High Commission in India, she led the Duke and Duchess’s tour of India and Bhutan in 2016.
She guided the Princess throughout the fallout from the departure of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and through lockdown.
The news that Ms Corfield had been offered the position was revealed by a Sunday newspaper last month.
The brand management expert was described as loud, persuasive and straight-talking.
The former air stewardess from Croydon, south London, masterminded celebrity chef Oliver's free school meals campaign, pushing awareness of food education in schools, reducing junk food advertising and introducing a sugar tax.
She also worked with the Labour MP Stella Creasy on her recent MotheRED campaign to recruit more mothers as Labour politicians.
‘An unusual fit’
The Prince and Princess’s aides have traditionally been recruited from government departments and the civil service. Prince William's private secretary, Jean-Christophe Gray, previously worked with several former chancellors, including Rishi Sunak, George Osborne and Gordon Brown.
His last private secretary, Sir Simon Case, was David Cameron's principal private secretary in Downing Street and is now the cabinet secretary.
Ms Corfield was described as “an unusual fit,” but royal sources suggested there was a desire to recruit more modernisers and people with private-sector experience.
The Princess is said to be seeking a "different kind of courtier" as she aims to step up her public work and deliver her ambitious "Shaping Us" early years agenda.
Kensington Palace declined to comment.