No sooner had Meghan become the Duchess of Sussex than the rumour mill kicked into gear, fuelled by speculation that Her Royal Highness has an even loftier ambition in mind.
The idea began to surface in the media – usually attributed to unnamed friends and associates – that Meghan has her heart set on becoming the first female President of the United States of America, thereby making Prince Harry the first ever First Gentleman of the free world. But how seriously should we be taking these reports?
Meghan for President? is a brand new documentary from True Royalty TV which looks at the claim in light of Meghan Markle’s past political activism and her actions in the role of Duchess of Sussex. Speaking to her university friends, childhood school principal, and a plethora of expert Royal commentators, this wide-ranging programme asks just how far – and how grandly – Meghan has planned her future.
An empathetic child
The Princess’s political career – such as it is – started early, when a young classmate was so upset by his brother leaving to fight in the Gulf War that the 10-year-old Meghan (then Rachel) Markle decided to take a stand against the invasion.
“In order to support him, she held a Gulf War protest here at the school,” says Ilise Faye, head teacher at the Hollywood Schoolhouse. As can be seen in the image above, the precocious student activist held a sign appealing for “Peace and Harmony” – language that could very much be used to describe Meghan Markle’s philosophical outlook today.
A later protest had a far more tangible impact, however, when Meghan turned her attention to the issue of sexism. The voiceover on a TV advert for Ivory Clear washing up liquid opened by stating that ‘women are fighting greasy pots and pans,’ a sentiment which Meghan felt was somewhat one-sided and outdated.
Having lodged a complaint by writing to the brand, she gained a sense of the power of activism – and the ability of one person to effect change – when the advert’s voiceover was rerecorded to replace ‘women’ with ‘people’. At the same time, she received a crash course in compromise and the glacial pace of progress in the fact that the footage accompanying the voiceover remained the same – meaning only women were featured in the advert.
A principled woman
At Northwestern University, Meghan quickly gained a reputation for philanthropy when she joined the community-minded Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority – known for its social enterprises geared towards improving the lives of the less fortunate.
One former classmate and sorority sister, Liz Kores, remembers Meghan being ready to help out with any worthy cause at the drop of a hat: “At our sorority chapter meeting I stood up and said I was thinking about volunteering with the Glass Slipper Project – an organisation giving prom dresses to girls who couldn’t afford them. I said ‘Who wants to come with me?’ and Meg’s hand was up right away.” These early experiences may even have been the root of her more recent collaboration with Smart Works; a charity that provides work outfits to unemployed women who have secured job interviews.
Meghan tackled the concept of empowering clothing in a different way during her tenure as a star of US TV series Suits. When she noticed that many scenes seemed to be written with her character wearing nothing but a towel, the actress put her foot down and demanded a more dignified wardrobe. The production team, sensing Meghan was not to be trifled with, acquiesced.
A Presidential Princess?
Meghan Markle quickly made her mark on the role of Duchess of Sussex after marrying into the Royal Family. Even before making any moves of her own, her very identity had a modernising influence on this most arcane of institutions.
While she took on the mantle of public servant with ease, her methods frequently left something to be desired in the eyes of traditionalists. While her devotion to environmentally-friendly and sustainable clothing are absolutely on message, her tendency to stray from her bodyguards or go barefoot on the beach marked her out as a free spirit more in the mould of Diana than others who had married into the Windsors without making waves.
As the Duke and Duchess of Sussex continued to forge their own – somewhat divergent – path from the rest of the Royals, many saw Meghan Markle as the driving force behind a new strategy that involved setting up their own personal Instagram account and creating their own team of advisors separate from William and Kate. One of those advisers was Sara Latham – who had been a senior figure in Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign.
What is the endgame? At this point it is hard to say, though many commentators point to the possibility that Harry and Meghan could take a take a step back from Royal duties to live in America – either temporarily or permanently – a series of events that would further fuel speculation about an eventual Presidential run for the Duchess of Sussex.
But as someone who is already feeling the strain of press attention as a Princess, could Meghan really withstand the scrutiny and pressure that comes with being the President of the United States of America? Find out now, in Meghan for President?