Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Just Proved They’re More Influential Away From Royal Family

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry are no strangers to public appearances, but they took the opportunity of a recent television appearance to make an appeal for civic engagement in the U.S. People may be more used to seeing the two make official British appearances or be analyzed for their style, but it seems they’re breaking more thoroughly from British royal protocol with their political activities.

Meghan and Prince Harry left the royal family

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After meeting in London in 2016, Meghan and Prince Harry got engaged in 2017 and married on May 19, 2018. Their son, Archie, was born in 2019. By early January 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex decided to step away from being senior members of the royal family.

In March 2020, Meghan and Prince Harry exited from their senior royal positions. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex moved to Canada and then to LA with Baby Archie.

They have since bought a house in Santa Barbara and started working in the TV industry. This includes signing a deal to produce content for Netflix. They also signed with the Harry Walker Agency in New York, which will handle their speaking engagements.

Meghan and Prince Harry get political

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry laughing
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry | Samir Hussein/Getty Images

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Meghan and Prince Harry recently appeared on ABC’s primetime special recognizing TIME magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people. While not on TIME’s list this year, the two were included in 2018.

In 2019, they were included in TIME’s 25 Most Influential People on the Internet. The special marks their first TV appearance together since they left royal life.

The couple took the opportunity to urge Americans to vote. While Meghan had previously started the paperwork to become a British citizen, she is currently still a U.S. citizen and able to vote.

“We’re six weeks out from the election, and today is Voter Registration Day,” Meghan said in the special, according to People magazine. “Every four years, we’re told, ‘This is the most important election of our lifetime.’ But this one is. When we vote, our values are put into action, and our voices are heard.”

Prince Harry also encouraged everyone to stay positive in their political discussions. “As we approach this November, it’s vital that we reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity. What we consume, what we are exposed to, and what we engage with online, has a real effect on all of us.”

Meghan also said that people should “honor those who gave us courage this year. Like the scientists, researchers and medical professionals who are leading the fight against COVID-19. Or the countless voices who are speaking out with passion and purpose against injustice and inequality and to those silently marching in solidarity, in peaceful protest to stand for what is just and what is right.”

While these comments don’t mention Trump or Biden, they suggest that the Sussexes are in favor of Biden. Before her marriage, Meghan had spoken out against Trump.

Politics and the royal family

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The British monarchy no longer holds political power and still exists because the institution is accepted by the British people. As a figurehead that represents all the British people, the monarch stays out of politics and away from divisive issues.

While this applies mostly to the queen, the royal family also stays out of politics and generally doesn’t even vote. If opinion changed and enough people disagreed with the monarch on any issue, the institution could be discarded as it has been in many European countries.

The TV appearance isn’t the first time Meghan has been seen to do something political. In 2019, Meghan curated the September issue of British Vogue, but the women she selected as the 15 women trailblazers were seen by some to all be liberal.

Now that the Sussexes have left the royal family, Meghan is able to participate in more overtly political activities, as she had before her marriage. In addition to civic engagement, Meghan and Prince Harry have spoken out about racial equality, climate change, and mental health awareness. She recently also took part in a virtual voter registration event with Michelle Obama.

The Sussexes’ separation from the royal family has given them new opportunities to be influential in a way they simply could not have been as royals. As senior royals, Meghan and Prince Harry were passively political. As royals leading civilian lives, Meghan and Prince Harry are able to vocalize themselves more and make a stronger impact on society, and in turn, the world.