Meghan Markle is continuing her fight for paid leave, all while seemingly answering critics who think she’s getting too political for someone with a royal title.
The Duchess of Sussex appeared in person at Day 1 of the DealBook Online Summit on Tuesday, in conversation with Mellody Hobson, co-CEO and president of Ariel Investments, and Andrew Ross Sorkin, the founder and editor-at-large of DealBook.
Ross Sorkin kicked off the “Minding the Gap” panel by talking about paid leave, which the duchess has been advocating for by writing a letter to Congress and by making bipartisan calls to senators.
He asked Meghan if she had any “anxiety about getting into politics.” Members of the royal family are typically supposed to stay out of any political issues, though the duchess said sees paid leave as more of a “humanitarian issue.”
“I don’t see this as a political issue, frankly,” the former “Suits” actor said, at the same time responding to those who have criticized her involvement. “Look, there is certainly a precedent amongst my husband’s family and the royal family of not having any involvement in politics. But I think this is ― I mean, paid leave, from my standpoint ― is just a humanitarian issue.”
Meghan said she also sees her work in the space as a continuation of the work she’s been doing all her life.
“But even before I had any sort of privilege in my life, when my life and lifestyle were very, very different, I always just stood up for what was right,” the royal said. “And so I’ve been gone from the U.S. for a really long time. I lived in Canada for seven years for work, and then moved to the U.K.”
“And to come back and now be a mother of two and to see that the U.S. is one of only six countries in the entire world that doesn’t offer any form of national paid leave just didn’t make sense,” she explained.
“My approach was the same as its been since I was really young. When I was 11 and saw something that was wrong on TV, I put pen to paper and wrote a letter about it,” the royal added, referencing a letter that she wrote to Proctor & Gamble about sexist advertising that implied only women should do dishes.
“On this, I said, well, let me write a letter and pick up the phone and make some calls and see how I can help,” the royal added. “To me it seems like a logical and obvious thing to do and I am happy that I’m able to support it.”
The Duchess of Sussex first made headlines for getting involved in the fight for parental leave for all last month.
In the letter she wrote to Congress, Meghan spoke about her own parents, the birth of her second child, and how lucky she and Harry were not to be “confronted with the harsh reality of either spending those first few critical months with our baby or going back to work.”
“No family should be faced with these decisions,” the duchess said in her letter. “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).”
Meghan later followed up her plea by cold-calling senators on both sides of the aisle, including Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), according to a Politico report last week.
HuffPost’s Igor Bobic confirmed that Meghan spoke to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), to see how she could get involved in paid leave. Politico reported that Gillibrand gave the duchess the senator’s numbers, and that she’ll also be calling more people, in addition to attending a dinner with some senators, according to The 19th.
Watch more of Meghan’s DealBook panel below:
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