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Donald Trump’s attack on Meghan Markle Wednesday night, misogynistically casting her as a shrewish wife whom Harry would “need” “good luck” to live with, will not “distract” Meghan and Harry or stop them advocating for voter engagement, a friend has told The Daily Beast.
The friend also pointed out that the “inaccurate question” that triggered Donald Trump’s bullying response was asked by a journalist at the Daily Mail, whose parent company, Associated Newspapers, is locked in a bitter legal battle with Meghan.
Nikki Schwab, a senior political reporter at dailymail.com in the U.S., was called on at a White House briefing to ask a question, and said: “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle chimed in on the U.S. election and essentially encouraged people to vote for Joe Biden. I wanted to get your reaction to that.”
“I’m not a fan of hers, and I would say this—and she probably has heard that—but, I wish a lot of luck to Harry, because he’s going to need it,” Trump replied.
Schwab’s question mischievously misrepresented a video issued by Harry and Meghan to introduce a new Time 100 list in which they encouraged Americans to vote. In the clip, Harry urged viewers to “reject hate speech, misinformation and negativity.”
The couple were careful not to endorse either candidate, but many drew their own conclusions. An official spokesman for the couple, asked about Meghan’s presidential preference, told The Times of London, “Most people are aware of her stances previously. They can join the dots.”
The British royal family is required by constitutional tradition not to get involved in British politics, and have usually also sought to maintain international political impartiality to avoid disrupting governmental diplomacy.
The insistence by Harry and Meghan that they are simply disseminating a non-partisan get-out-the-vote message is complicated by a 2016 TV interview, in which Meghan called Trump “divisive” and “misogynistic.”
In a recent online chat with women’s advocacy group The 19th, Meghan referred to “the change we all need and deserve,” in the forthcoming election.
Many have seen Harry and Meghan’s attempts to not directly express their assumed preference for Biden as unconvincing; for example, Lady Colin Campbell, the biographer and friend of Princess Diana who recently wrote a biography of Meghan and Harry entitled Meghan and Harry: The Real Story told The Daily Beast that by calling for “change”, Meghan had clearly nailed her colors to the Biden mast.
However Meghan’s friend insisted to The Daily Beast that such claims were to willfully misunderstand the couple’s comments: “Meghan and Harry gave a nice message that didn’t mention a candidate or a political party. Anybody who’s been following what they’ve said this year know that she’s encouraged people to get out there and vote, and he’s been saying people should be treating each other with decency and respect.”
The friend added: “I don’t think this is going to distract them.”
Sources at Buckingham Palace sought to calm the waters, emphasizing Harry and Meghan were no longer “working members” of the royal family and saying of Harry that “any comments he makes are made in a personal capacity.” They would not be drawn on whether advice or messages had been conveyed to the couple.
However one source with excellent connections to the inner circle of the royal family told The Daily Beast that they expected senior royals would be at the least highly irritated at Meghan and Harry for providing Donald Trump with a chance to shore up his base by publicly insulting the Sussexes.
“The Royals go to great extent to stay out of politics, so it’s not going to go down well,” said the source. “It will be awkward if Trump wins. I imagine there will be a big showdown about it all next year when they review everything, but I can’t see them stripping them of the HRH. That was perceived as a very mean-spirited thing to do to Diana and they won’t want to bring all that up again.”
Meghan and Harry were allowed to keep their HRH titles when they split the royal family, but agreed not to use them.
If Trump wins re-election, the President being in an open feud with Meghan and Harry could present significant diplomatic challenges, especially with the U.K. urgently needing to negotiate a post-Brexit trade deal with America.
However, the author Penny Junor, who has close connections to the family and has written several biographies of members of the family, including one of Harry, told The Daily Beast that attempting to put any further clear blue water between Harry and Meghan and the institution of royalty—perhaps by cutting them from the line of succession as some have suggested—would be a futile exercise.
“There is really nothing further they can do. Harry and Meghan will always and forever be associated with the royal family; they are so prominent that the way they behave will always have implications for the royal family,” said Junor.
“People couldn’t give a hoot about some technical issue of whether Harry may or may not succeed to the throne. Harry is a prominent member of the royal family, and whether or not he is actually working for them anymore is frankly unimportant to most people. I would imagine the family are slightly nervously wondering what he might do next.”