Meghan Markle's bold letter to US politicians: 'Ruthless streak'

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Meghan Markle has ruffled feathers after penning an impassioned open letter to two US politicians in support of the government's paid parental leave bill.

The duchess' two-page, 1000-word letter — written using the official letterhead she shares with her husband, Prince Harry — has raised questions about her political aspirations and her use of her royal credentials.

Meghan Markle appears onstage at the 2021 Global Citizen Live concert at Central Park in New York, U.S., September 25, 2021. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs
Meghan campaigning onstage at the 2021 Global Citizen Live concert in New York (Reuters)

Meghan's political goal

According to royal biographer, Angela Levin the 40-year-old's latest move is an 'obvious' indication of her goal to take office one day — and perhaps even run for president.

"[The letter] is obviously another step towards trying to turn herself into a politician," Levin told Daily Mail.

But Levin took issue with the California-born former actor's 'astonishing' choice to flex her royal muscle via the letterhead, despite describing herself as "an engaged citizen and a parent".

"The notepaper she is using is astonishingly 'From the Office of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex' and shows how she isn't even aware that she is talking to politicians in a republic that won its independence from the crown in 1776," she said.

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Meghan Markle's open letter about US paid parental leave. Photo: paidleaveforall.org
Meghan Markle's open letter about US paid parental leave. Photo: paidleaveforall.org

With the bill on its way to being passed as it heads to the Senate, Levin wondered if Meghan's letter was timed in order to 'hijack' the situation and claim the credit.

'Ruthless streak'

Addressing two senior Washington figures — Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and the Majority Leader in the US Senate Chuck Schumer — the Duchess of Sussex recalled her own financial struggles growing up.

She remembered how $5 salads from chain restaurant Sizzler were a family meal staple, and working her first job at a frozen yoghurt shop at age 13 to 'make ends meet'.

"I grew up on the 4.99-dollar salad bar at Sizzler – it may have cost less back then (to be honest, I can’t remember) – but what I do remember was the feeling: I knew how hard my parents worked to afford this because even at five bucks, eating out was something special, and I felt lucky," she wrote.

 Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe at the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation during their royal tour of South Africa on September 25, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa
Meghan and Harry (Seen here with Archie in 2019) were able to take time off work after daughter Lilibet's birth earlier this year. Photo: DPPA/Sipa USA.

"I worked all my life and saved when and where I could – but even that was a luxury – because usually it was about making ends meet and having enough to pay my rent and put gas in my car," she added.

Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told Daily Mail that Meghan was employing a tactic used by aspiring politicians to relate to their audience by referencing a shared struggle.

But he wondered if her efforts would be undercut by the fact that her Hollywood lighting director father, Thomas Markle, bankrolled her private school education.

"The issue she highlights is undoubtedly an important one, but many will sense a ruthless streak in her behaviour which needs moderating if she were ever to seek election," Fitzwilliams said.

President Markle?

The letter isn't the first time Meghan has advocated for change regarding issues that matter to her, and some commentators have speculated that the duchess has her eye on America's top job.

According to her biographer Omid Scobie, co-author of Finding Freedom, Meghan "has her eyes set on the US presidency."

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2021/09/23: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan visit One World Observatory on 102nd floor of Freedom Tower of World Trade Center. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Meghan with Harry in New York earlier this month. Does she have eyes on the Presidency? (Getty Images)

"Meghan is the embodiment of the American dream. One day we may see Meghan become president," he said earlier this year.

Another source told Vanity Fair magazine that Meghan "would seriously consider running for president," saying, "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."

'Overjoyed' and 'overwhelmed'

In advocating for paid leave for new parents, Meghan — who is mum to Archie, 2, and Lilibet, almost 5 months — took a very personal stance, revealing that she and Harry were 'overjoyed' and 'overwhelmed' after Lilibet's arrival.

Although she admitted she and Harry were lucky to be able to take five months away from work, as per the parental leave allowance at their company, Archewell, the duchess believes that paid leave should be a right for all Americans.

She said: "In June, my husband and I welcomed our second child. Like any parents, we were overjoyed. Like many parents, we were overwhelmed.

"Like fewer parents, we weren’t confronted with the harsh reality of either spending those first few critical months with our baby or going back to work.

"We knew that by doing so we wouldn’t have to make impossible choices about childcare, work, and medical care that so many have to make every single day.

"No family should be faced with these decisions. No family should have to choose between earning a living and having the freedom to take care of their child (or a loved one, or themselves, as we would see with a comprehensive paid leave plan).

"If we’re going to create a new era of family-first policies, let’s make sure that includes a strong paid leave program for every American that’s guaranteed, accessible, and encouraged without stigma or penalty."

Additional reporting by Flic Everett.

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