So we are again. Another week, another outrage at something Meghan Markle has done.
This time, the Duchess of Sussex’s great crime is encouraging people to vote. I’m being slightly facetious, I understand the vastly out of proportion reaction by people like Piers Morgan is because Markle is breaking the unspoken vow of political neutrality that the Queen and the royal family try to stick too.
At an online “When All Women Vote” event, the Duchess of Sussex was supporting the idea that we should all be pushing to make sure that the voices of all women are heard
“We vote to honour those who came before us and to protect those that come after us … that’s what community is all about and that’s specifically what this election is all about,” Markle said. Nothing too controversial in that.
“You’re just as mobilised and energised to see the change we all need and deserve. This fight is worth fighting and we all need to be out there mobilising to have our voices heard,” she added.
So there we are, the big word – “change”. Markle did not mention a candidate by name, but the gist is that we should be looking to get Donald Trump out of the White House. But that’s it, the rest of her statements stand up to scrutiny.
She continued: “If you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. If you aren’t going out there and voting, you are complicit. If you are complacent, you are complicit.
“We can make a difference in this election and we will make a difference in this election.”
Ignoring the “change” sentiment for a second, taking about people not getting out and voting being complicit in a situation a country finds itself in is perfectly valid. Yes, the Duchess of Sussex likely means Trump in this instance – but with autocrats dotted around the world from Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil to the long-standing Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus, shouldn’t we be pushing everyone to exercise their right to vote?
The example of Belarus is timely. We are lucky that this faux-outrage over the actions of Markle is what counts for a “direct involvement in an election” for some people. The difficulties faced by those seeking to make their voices heard in Minsk and around Belarus should be a reminder of what a precious thing being able to vote is.
I understand the need to prevent leaders and notable figures seeking to swing another country’s election, that is fair and proper – but to call Markle’s remarks that is surely stretching the point. I appreciate the royal family keeps quiet during our own elections, but that doesn’t mean that speculation doesn’t swirl about every action and what it might mean when it comes to big national decisions and what the Queen or the major royals might think.
It is still about inference, even if Markle’s words are first hand and therefore clearer to deduce. The royal family was applauded for opening the institution to modernisation when Markle was welcomed in – as an American, should the Duchess of Sussex not be allowed an opinion on an election in a place she calls home?
Yes, she was introduced at the event as being the Duchess of Sussex, but surely that title has lost its lustre since Meghan and Harry stepped away from their duties as major royals. Convention says they will keep their titles, but the life they have chosen for themselves will constantly rub up against the old rules?
It’s not like Trump doesn’t offer his opinion on UK matters every time he is asked, normally in a much more straightforward manner than the Duchess of Sussex did.
If a section of society is going to spit feathers every time it happens, this is going to get very old indeed. The royal family will have to let some modernity creep in eventually – even if Meghan and Harry’s desire for their own life has caused ructions.
No longer part of the “inner” royal family, I say let the Duke and Duchess of Sussex give their opinion, if still somewhat obliquely. Encouraging people to vote is something all royals should be doing – if a bit of personal opinion slips in too, then what’s the harm?