For our new documentary, Meghan for President?, we spoke to those in the know about the Duchess of Sussex and where her path may lead. From Meghan’s primary school teacher to established Royal commentators to friend’s of the Duchess, we break down the main guests on the show and what they have to say. And there is one overriding question: do they think it conceivable that the Duchess could become president of the United States one day?
Andrew Morton is a renowned biographer who is best known for his biography of Diana, Princess of Wales, but has also published books about a number of high-profile figures including Monica Lewinsky, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie and Madonna.
Nevertheless, he has written more books about members of the British Royal Family than he has on any other subject – including two about Diana, one on Prince William and Kate Middleton and, most recently, a biography of the Duchess of Sussex. In doing so, he identified the two dominant passions of Meghan Markle – acting and activism – and was able to pinpoint one specific moment as a potential turning point in her life:
“She was enjoying the acting at school, and then she wanted to develop that at college,” says Morton. “But she also had that activist side – the political side – and she even went down to Buenos Aires to work in the American Embassy there. She was actually so enthused by the work in the State Department that she applied for a job, took the exam and sadly she failed it. If Meghan had made different choices we could be talking about Congresswoman Meghan Markle now.”
The notorious gossip columnist made his name zeroing in on what he believes to be celebrities’ true intentions and packaging his observations as news; here he turns his lens onto Meghan Markle and examines what motivates her in her charitable work.
“I don’t see her doing charity work and doing it quietly,” says Hilton. “Some celebrities do that, but that doesn’t happen with Meghan Markle. She just gets more attention – and I like that she uses her attention for good.”
Not only is he the Royal Editor at Large for Harper’s Bazaar US, he also serves as Royal contributor for the American Broadcasting Corporation and Good Morning America, as well as hosting his very own podcast covering Royal Family news. He discusses the stratospheric potential of the Sussexes, but also what’s at stake if Meghan pursues a political career.
“Meghan is the embodiment of the American Dream,” says Scobie. “She grew up in a very middle class American household, with her eye sort of set on Hollywood. But now look at her; she’s standing in the House of Windsor doing things very differently and the world is her oyster. Her and Harry are the world’s most famous couple.
“But if Meghan did ever want to run for President there’s one sacrifice that Harry would have to make: give up his life as a member of the Royal Family. Because, of course, members of the Royal Family must be apolitical.”
As one of the stars of reality TV programme The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Brandi Glanville knows a thing or two about powerful women – albeit on a slightly different scale to the Duchess of Sussex. As the author of two books – Drinking and Tweeting and Drinking and Dating – Glanville is also familiar with the heady worlds of social media and celebrity romance.
The aspect of Meghan Markle’s character that she hones in on, however, is ambition – identifying her ability to work towards what she wants, whether that be becoming a princess or becoming a president.
“When you have ambition and you know what you want, you can get it,” says Glanville. “She knew exactly what she wanted and she set out to get it, and now she’s the Duchess of Sussex. I just feel like she is a boss bitch, and if she doesn’t like something she will change it.”
Best known for her role as a journalist with NBC News, Linda Ellerbee struck up a relationship with Meghan Markle when she was the host of Nickleodeon’s Nick News with Linda Ellerbee – a current affairs programme aimed at children.
One of the stories she covered was that of an 11-year-old Meghan Markle finding her voice as an activist by writing a letter of complaint about an Ivory Clear washing up liquid advert, criticising it for implying that washing dishes is work carried out solely by women. Against all the odds, Meghan’s complaint led to the advert being altered – but not quite as much as she would have liked.
“She pointed out in a later letter to me, ‘Yes, I did find I had a voice, and yes I used it, and yes they changed their commercial. But if you notice, they only changed the voiceover. It now says for people all across America who are doing dishes, but it only shows women.’ The lesson from that, she said to me, was she’d learned she could change her world, but it wasn’t going to be easy.”
Alongside Meghan Markle, Tameka Jacobs featured on the US version of popular TV game show Deal or No Deal as one of a number of ‘Briefcase Girls’ – the glamorous group of women who would hold metal briefcases containing money.
One episode in particular stood out for Tameka, as she remembers a set visit from colourful businessman Donald Trump – later to become President of the United States himself. His interaction with the women on set seemed to hint at some of his baser instincts, while Meghan’s reaction suggested a principled opposition to a certain kind of behaviour.
“It was very interesting,” says Tameka. “He stood at the bottom of the stage and watched us all go up the stairs – and if you’ve ever been on our set and you’ve watched us go up the stairs, it’s quite the view! There was a group of girls that flocked to him and definitely wanted to meet him, and then there was another group of girls who were kind of turned off. Meghan stayed away from Trump… she was definitely one of the ones that kept her distance.”
Ilise Faye was Meghan Markle’s headteacher when the future princess attended the Hollywood Schoolhouse between the ages of two and twelve.
As Headmistress, Ilise was able to witness Meghan growing into a principled young woman. She saw Meghan taking her first tentative steps into the world of political activism when – at the age of ten – she took it upon herself to mount an anti-war demonstration outside the school.
“School was important to her, learning was important to her, and she had a voice,” says Faye. “What happened was, her friend was upset [because his elder brother was due to go to Iraq to fight in the Gulf War.] In order to support him, she held a Gulf War protest here at the school.”
True Royalty has uncovered footage of this protest for the very first time, and it forms part of our in-depth Meghan for President? documentary – looking at the character of the Duchess of Sussex, and whether she has the character, the drive and the intention to one day seek an even more powerful place in the world.