When Meghan Markle prepared her speech for When We All Vote, a non-profit organization launched by impressive celebs including Michelle Obama, Tom Hanks, and Faith Hill, she probably didn’t expect the reaction to be Piers Morgan calling her an embarrassment to the royal family. After all, it’s genuinely hard for an unbiased ear to hear what could have been so inflammatory in Meghan’s earnest plea that all Americans show up and vote in the election this November. But royal critics, as ever, have found a way, and they’re now claiming that Meghan “involving herself” in US politics is a misstep worthy of stripping her Duchess of Sussex title over, and that it goes against the royal family’s long history of remaining apolitical.
As you can imagine, #SussexSquad Twitter had some thoughts about that — but before we get into their ever-so-valid defense of the Duchess, I’ll explain what UK critics like Morgan and Sun editor Dan Wootton found so objectionable.
Per Morgan’s criticism, Meghan’s speech was “brazenly partisan,” even though the former Suits star steered well clear of throwing her weight behind a particular candidate, only alluding to her preference in a telling call for change. “The Queen must strip the Sussexes of their titles,” Morgan wrote. “They can’t remain as royals & spout off about foreign elections.”
The Queen must strip the Sussexes of their titles. They can’t remain as royals & spout off about foreign elections in such a brazenly partisan way. https://t.co/6uZ3FTbjHW
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) August 21, 2020
“Extraordinary! Meghan now actively campaigning against Donald Trump,” Wootton chimed in. (Again, I cannot stress firmly enough that Meghan never mentioned Trump’s name, Biden’s name, or anything other than her full-throated support for exercising one’s right to vote.) “Completely inappropriate and a massive diplomatic embarrassment for the Queen and British Royal Family.”
Extraordinary! Meghan now actively campaigning against Donald Trump.
Completely inappropriate and a massive diplomatic embarrassment for the Queen and British Royal Family, whose entire success and longevity is based on staying out of party politics. https://t.co/FfRm1Vlfn7
— Dan Wootton (@danwootton) August 21, 2020
Well, it didn’t take long for Meghan to start getting involved in politics did it 🙄
She is putting the Queen and Royal Family in an increasingly difficult position and if she carries on, I think it’s time to strip her of all official titles permanently. We don’t need this
— 💙 Cathy 💙 (@SaltyDuchess) August 22, 2020
Now that we’ve waded through the critics, let’s turn to our brave and eager Meghan defenders, shall we? First up, history professor Kate Williams, who makes the excellent point that simply watching Meghan’s speech would dissuade most of the concerns lodged by her critics.
Other royals have talked about elections, matters such as the environment, even written to ministers about policy. But #Meghan, who is a US citizen, telling people to take US elections seriously is some sort of terrible scandal.
— Prof Kate Williams (@KateWilliamsme) August 22, 2020
Williams also points out that royals do in fact have a long history of engaging with politics in one way or another, and Nicola Coughlan concurs — bringing up the example of King Edward, a friend of Adolf Hitler and known Nazi sympathizer.
If you are fumin about Meghan Markle having political opinions may I suggest you don’t google ‘King Edward & Hitler’ cos u’d be fumin hun x
— Nicola Coughlan (@nicolacoughlan) August 22, 2020
Meghan Markle: *breathes*
British press: “She exhaled the wrong way. Strip her of her title.”
— Dionne Grant (@DionneGrant) August 22, 2020
The saddest outcome of the outcry against Meghan’s speech? Once again, the roar of criticism might overshadow powerful statements from Meghan herself, about the long history of voting rights, the ongoing voter suppression efforts and the need to fight against them, and what it means to take part in helping ensure voting access for everyone.
“We vote to honor all those who came before us and to protect those who will come after us because that’s what community is all about, and that’s specifically what this election’s all about,” the Duchess said. “At this juncture, if we aren’t part of the solution, we are part of the problem. If you aren’t going out there and voting, then you’re complicit. If you’re complacent, you’re complicit.”
Royal critics or no, Meghan wasn’t willing to sit complacently through this election. Meghan has always been uniquely capable of seeing which traditions are in serious need of breaking, and with her vision of the world, apolitical royals just may be a thing of the past.
Click here to see Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s complete relationship timeline.