To be a royal is to be officially and publicly neutral on all things political. This was one of the reasons why then-Kate Middleton was seen as one of the best options for Prince William – Kate had never publicly expressed any opinion on anything “political.” She wasn’t on social media, she didn’t give interviews where she offered up any kind of opinion about anything, really. Meghan Markle is a completely different story though. Meghan is a woman who has lived in the world, worked with charities and social-change organizations, and Meghan has shared opinions on a variety of subjects in interviews and on social media. Well, as you can imagine, all of the fuddy-duddy gatekeepers of British society are balking at the thought that an actress who openly supported Hillary Clinton’s presidential run will now be part of the royal family.
Meghan Markle has previously used her celebrity to back Hillary Clinton, lament Brexit and attack Donald Trump as “misogynistic” and “divisive”. But such strident opinions will be muted by palace protocol that aims to prevent royals from publicly expressing views on political figures and parties. She will be expected to channel her campaigning zeal into supporting the voluntary sector. A seasoned royal observer predicted the restrictions on her free expression could present “an existential problem” for such an engaged and politically vocal woman.
You have to go back to Prince Philip to think of a recruit to the family who is so evidently feisty and spiky,” said Robert Lacey, a historian, and biographer of the Queen. “I can see that this is going to be a real problem in the months and years ahead for her, an existential problem. I don’t imagine the Queen will be in a rush to have Meghan at Balmoral when Trump visits.”
Any hopes that the first American in the senior royal ranks since Wallis Simpson might be able to act as a bridge to the White House look to have already been dashed. Prior to the 2016 US presidential election, Markle advocated voting for Clinton “not because she’s a woman, but because Trump has made it easy to see that you don’t really want that kind of world that he’s painting”.
Royals are expected to understand that party politics and individual politicians are off-limits for public comment. The monarchy’s website states: “As head of state, the Queen has to remain strictly neutral with respect to political matters.” Palace aides pointed out that by convention, other members of the family have followed suit. It is a line that critics believe her soon-to-be father-in-law Prince Charles has sometimes crossed, into political “meddling”.
Encouraging “societal change” through initiatives such as the Heads Together mental health campaign run by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Harry is preferable. Markle is thought to be likely to want to continue campaigning on issues for women and girls.
Dickie Arbiter, a former press secretary to Prince Charles, said: “It’s a bit like going in the goldfish bowl. Everything changes. What she was able to say before she came into ‘the firm’ is very different to what she is going to be able to say now. It all changes. Now she has come into the royal family, she will have to be politically neutral. Harry has probably made that perfectly clear. He knows she has been outspoken, but all that has to stop. She is going to have to adapt. I am sure she is on the road already.”
You could tell me today that I could marry a rich, generous, lovely and kind prince who looks just like Idris Elba and the only thing standing in my way of marrying my dream guy is that I could never talk sh-t about Donald Trump again, and I wouldn’t take that f–king deal. Meghan should not be ashamed of her political views, nor should she have to back down or be silenced in any way. I get that the Windsors are supposed to be politically neutral in normal times – but these are not normal times. Donald Trump is a sexual assailant, a fascist and a white supremacist. It’s Meghan’s duty and everyone else’s duty to say that sh-t all the time. As for the rest of it… now I kind of wants Meghan to storm into Buckingham Palace whilst wearing a “Reclaiming My Time” t-shirt and p-ssy hat and waving the EU flag.