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Meghan Markle, Prince Harry: Meghan planning career in politics

Thanks to one sentence in a recent interview, gossip is swirling about Meghan Markle’s next move – and it would send shockwaves around the world.

Look closely at the pictures taken, nearly four years ago exactly, of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex supposedly enjoying a day out together at the Wimbledon women’s final and you will notice something particularly odd. In all of the shots Meghan is carrying a Panama hat which she did not put on once.

What would seem to you and I and everyone else brought up on 'Slip, slop, slap' as an eminently sensitive move was in fact quite the faux pas, because hats are frowned upon in the royal box.

Either no one inside the rarefied circles of royal life bothered to inform the new Duchess of this particular rule or she simply ignored aides and brought her hat anyway.

If ever there was a sign that the 21st century Cinderella story that was the Duchess of Sussex was not going to play out the way everyone had assumed, then The Hat was it.

So, if the Meghan story was never going to end up all singing cartoon birds, if the fairytale was over before it started, if the restrictive reality of royal life was never going to be one she could or would submit herself to, then where did she want or hope things would end up for her?

One theory that has gained renewed traction in recent days: Washington DC

The question of Meghan’s possible political ambitions were revived last week after

Meghan, sans hat, took part in a conversation with famed feminist Gloria Steinem and journalist Jessica Yellin for fashion about the US Supreme Court’s recent horrifying overturning of Roe v Wade. which for 50 years had ruled that abortion was a constitutional right.

“Well, Gloria, maybe it seems as though you and I will be taking a trip to DC together soon,” Meghan said in the chat.

over the weekend, Daily Mail columnist Dan Wootton, a man who has never been shy about voicing his astringent opinions on the Sussexes, added fresh fuel to this fire, recounting “a conversation I had with one of Meghan’s increasingly frustrated close aides in early 2019 as her relationships within the royal family turned ever more toxic.”

According to Wootton, the courtier told him: “I am now convinced there is something bigger going on here – an eventual plan that involves running for office in America.”

“She’s obsessed with US politics. I think we’re [the royal family] now just a stepping stone to something she considers far more important and attractive.”

Leaving aside the sniffy suspicion and resentment in this courtier’s words, it is fair to say that Meghan has never been a woman who has had much truck with convention.

Would her having a tilt at office really be that much of a leap?

Fresh off the back of Megxit, in 2020, Meghan threw herself into the 'get out the vote' effort, taking part in an online event put on by the Michelle Obama non-profit When All Women Vote and cold-calling voters.

“I know what it’s like to have a voice, and also what it’s like to feel voiceless,” Meghan told marie claire. (Gosh, wonder what else she could be referring to there?)

In September that year, she and husband Prince Harry appeared together in a video to encourage Americans to get to the ballot box in what was widely read as an endorsement of Joe Biden for president.

At the time, a close friend of Meghan’s told Vanity Fair: “One of the reasons she was so keen not to give up her American citizenship was so she had the option to go into politics. I think if Meghan and Harry ever gave up their titles she would seriously consider running for president.”

Come 2021 and the election of Biden, and Meghan was still at it. When the Sussex caravan rolled into New York in September, the couple’s itinerary and the look of the whole thing far more closely resembled a congressional campaign run than royal sortie. Gone was her wardrobe of California cool and in were tailored pants, $1800 turtlenecks and a neat bun, as the duo strode in and out of important buildings like the UN and the WHO, cradling leather folios, their faces set to serious issue mode.

In November, it emerged via Politico that Meghan had taken up the cause of paid parental leave, cold-calling nonplussed US Senators who had no compunction about throwing her under the bus in the media. (Senator Susan Collins said: “I was happy to talk with her. But I’m more interested in what the people of Maine are telling me about it.”)

There have been other clues that a foray into politics might seriously be on the Duchess' radar including the couple’s meeting with California Governor Gavin Newsom. A Democratic strategist told the Times at that point: “Everything she’s doing is similar to what other folks have done before they run for office.” They also said: “she She’s definitely putting her toe in the water.”

The question of how serious Meghan might be about a run is a tantalizing one.

After all, America is the home of the second act and the US has already notched up two presidents who used their screen stardom to catapult them into the most powerful job in the world.

Besides all of this, ending up as Senator (or better) would give Meghan one thing that has truly eluded, even now despite her wealth and title: True power of her own and on her own terms.

As royal biographer Tina Brown recently said during an interview with the Washington Post“She was always as an actress number six on the call sheet… Essentially, in Prince Harry, she also married number six on the call sheet.”

The appeal of being number one on the Pope, Joint Chiefs of Staff and Beyonce’s call list would look pretty good in that context.

However, the sacrifices that Meghan and Harry would have to make if she truly harbored a desire to one day hold the nuclear codes would be immense.

Most obviously, they would have to wholly give up their Sussex titles.

The mother-of-two could also wave goodbye to whatever privacy she and Harry have carved out for themselves in their adopted hometown of Montecito.

Meghan would have to commit to month upon month of fundraisers, sucking up to Democratic donors, having to shake tens of thousands of hands, cuddle strangers' babies, and pose for selfies.

The whole process, even before she might reach office, would be exhausting, expensive and

put a target on her family’s backs in terms of the press, critics and the often toxic miasma that are social media hordes. Or, basically all the things the Sussexes left the UK to escape.

Harry and Meghan’s paymasters, meanwhile, at Netflix and Spotify would likely be less-than-impressed if they suddenly focused their attention on a political campaign. Given that the Duke and Duchess now have to pick up their own bills, they need those hundreds of promised millions to keep the lights on and the kombucha fountain going.

(As “one well-informed source” told Vanity Fair in 2020: “I don’t really think she has political ambitions now. But her ego knows no bounds, so maybe she is keeping the door open. But she cannot right now, because they are very focused on making money. Running for public office and making a fortune don’t go together.”)

This is all before we even consider the category five meltdown that a Meghan campaign would trigger at Buckingham Palace.

But risks, like hats, are something that Meghan clearly has a fondness for.

I’m sure it was pure coincidence then that when Meghan joined forces with Steinem back in 2020 for a video to encourage people to vote, she chose to wear a particularly wide-brimmed Panama hat.

Daniela Elser is a royal expert and a writer with more than 15 years' experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.

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