Amidst all the coronavirus chaos on our own waters, it can be easy to forget that our friends overseas have a very important election looming. On the 3rd November, US citizens will vote for either Donald Trump to continue his reign as president, or fellow septuagenarian Joe Biden to walk into the White House.
No one is sure which way the American public will swing. But if US voters are feeling disheartened about the lack of presidential talent, they can fear not. A very famous and in some quarters controversial American actress with a passion for doing-good might be in the running for 2024. And no, it’s not Angelina Jolie.
For avid royal watchers, the fact that bookmakers are genuinely pricing up the odds of the Duchess of Sussex running for president in 2024 won't come as a huge surprise. Meghan is known as someone with strong beliefs, and we've had hints in the past from various corners that politics was a possible destination for her.
This week, the bookies are once again reappraising their numbers. In a Time 100 video, Meghan appeared alongside Prince Harry urging the American public to use their right to vote in ‘the most important election of our lifetime.’
"When we vote, our values are put into action and our voices are heard. Your voice is a reminder that you matter, because you do and you deserve to be heard,” she said.
Despite members of the Royal family being obliged by convention to keep schtum about politics, Prince Harry also dipped his toes into the water, telling voters to “reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity.”
But unlike Prince Harry, after stepping down as her role as a senior member of the Royal family back in January (yes, remember that?), Meghan is technically a free agent. So, what about those odds? They currently stand at 20/1, in case you're wondering.
If the course of events in 2020 is anything to go by, Meghan running for president in 2024 is not as implausible as it may sound. Here, then, is a not-entirely-complete charting of the Duchess's supposed political aspirations. Will we be adding more chapters – and shorter odds – in the future?
September 2020: The Time 100 video
Meghan looked every bit the future presidential candidate in a coffee-coloured blouse and tapered black trousers during the Time 100 video. In fact, her performance led Betfair spokesperson Sam Rosbottom to declare that: “Meghan Markle’s likelihood of running for president in 2024 has dramatically improved from 66/1 to 20/1 following her latest comments on the US election."
What are the chances? Shorter than before, apparently. But what would Prince Harry become? The First Gentleman?
August 2020: The Gloria Steinem interview
In late August, the American feminist Gloria Steinem teamed up with Meghan to help convince young women to use their vote. In the conversation for the feminist event Makers – filmed through a chic black and white lens – Meghan made her most outspoken criticism of the US political system thus far.
“I’ve been really concerned about voter suppression,” she said. “We can already see all the different challenges that we’re facing. I had the chance to speak with Stacey Abrams about this to try to get a better understanding of what to do, for example, if you’re a person of color and you’re in line, for potentially hours on end, and during that time someone tries to intimidate you to tell you that you should get out of line because you might be under surveillance or any number of intimidation tactics that are so scary."
Since the meeting, it has been reported that Meghan has been cold-calling US residents to urge them to vote. Steinem also revealed that the Duchess had come home to vote.
As friendships go, it's a useful one to have. As anyone who works in politics knows, you need a strong network of backers – and Steinem is somewhere close to political activist royalty.
What are the chances? A politically savvy move – but sometimes, friendship is just that. Friendship.
August 2020: The Women’s Vote conference
Another day, another video of Meghan speaking into a camera urging people to vote. Indeed here, her efforts are well intended; the Duchess discussed the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment – which gave women in the US the right to vote – while acknowledging that women of colour faced obstacles to voting even after its passage. But we can't help but feel all these videos are becoming a little laborious, Meghan. Time for a stunt?
What are the chances? Holding steady
July 2020: The hints
A brash approach to politics may have worked to propel Trump into the White House, but by comparison Meghan seemed to favour a more subtle approach. A sort of 'stepping forward’ into the role, if you will.
That was, until TV and radio personality Beverly Turner apparently outed Meghan’s intentions by revealing to Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine Show that she had it on “good authority” that the Duchess of Sussex intends to run for office “I have no doubt, I think this is all part of the plan. It may not be very soon but it will be,” she said
Indeed, this is a view that has been forwarded before by the royal biographer Lady Colin Campbell. “I know the Duchess of Sussex has political ambitions,” she has said previously. “I’ve been told that one day she wants to run for president."
What are the chances? Still in the realms of hearsay.
June 2020: speaking out about the George Floyd killing
Any president (bar, maybe Donald Trump) knows that it’s essential to speak out about world events. And after the tragic killing of George Floyd back in June, Meghan eloquently spoke out in a six-minute video message recorded to the Immaculate Heart high school in Los Angeles. In the video, Meghan said that, “Black lives matter,” and added, “George Floyd’s life mattered, and Breonna Taylor’s life mattered, and Philando Castile’s life mattered, and Tamir Rice’s life mattered.”
Speaking about the protests, Meghan added, “‘We are seeing people stand in solidarity, we are seeing communities come together and to uplift. And you are going to be part of this movement.”
What are the chances? Humanitarian issues have always been Meghan's strong point, and here she came into her own.
September 2019: Her friendship with Michelle Obama
Because behind every president is a First Lady. It’s hard to put an exact date on when Meghan's friendship with Michelle began. However, a throw-away remark in the September issue of British Vogue, which Meghan guest edited, indicated the true extent of the pair’s friendship. “Over a casual lunch of chicken tacos and my ever-burgeoning bump, I asked Michelle if she could help me with this secret project,” wrote Meghan.
Secret project, you say, Meghan? You couldn't mean?...
She didn't. Those words were reflecting on pulling together the issue of Vogue, rather than pulling together the American people. Still, it helps to have friends in high places who will share tacos with you over lunch.
What are the chances? Who knows, but as political connections go, not too shabby, Meghan.
2016: Speaking out against Trump
Back when Meghan was still an actress, her political engagement was evident. During an appearance on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore in 2016, Meghan aired her opinions on the President Trump, calling him “divisive.”
“I think it was in 2012 the Republican Party lost the female vote by 12 points — that is a huge number, and with as misogynistic as Trump is, and so vocal about it, that's a huge chunk of it,” she said. In the interview, Meghan also made it clear that she supported Hilary Clinton to become president.
This was the first move in what proceeded to be a back and forth movement between the Sussexes and Trump. In a prank call to who he thought was Greta Thunberg, Prince Harry said that Trump had “blood on his hands.” Meanwhile, Trump said that the couple must pay for their own national security should they move to America.
Well, it was a sure fire start. You can’t become president when there’s somebody else eyeing up the White House, so expressing her distaste for Trump was perhaps the Duchess’s first way of making her intentions known.
What are the chances? Merely the twinkle in an presidential hopeful's eye.
University days: Dreams Dashed
In the book Finding Freedom, it's reported that Meghan's political ambitions were dashed long before she made it onto television. According to the royal authors, Meghan failed to pass a test to access a career in the US State Department. Thanks to her father's brother, Meghan had the chance to carry out an internship at the US embassy in Buenos Aires on her third year at Northwestern University. "When she didn't pass the highly competitive test, she was extremely disappointed," write Omid Scoobie and Carolyn Durand. "She wasn't used to failing. It was a major blow to her confidence she had always tried to protect."
What are the chances? You win some you lose some. At least she got a shot at being a princess, though.