Meghan Markle's presidential run appears inevitable

11 May 2022

3:15 PM

11 May 2022

3:15 PM

Meghan Markle has starred in a Netflix show and married into the Royal Family, but has she got her eyes on even loftier ambitions? Since quitting the UK and moving to the United States, the Duchess of Sussex has involved herself in various soft-political campaigns. She’s asked Congress to legislate paid family leave. She has also placed herself in the company of the Obamas and the Bidens. Is this all serving as a prelude to a presidential bid for the Democratic nomination?

If so, Joe Biden’s sister appears to have given the game away. While Meghan has kept schtum about her political aspirations, Valerie Biden Owens has suggested president Markle might not be such a far-fetched prospect. In an interview with Good Morning Britain, Owens suggested that ‘of course’ the Duchess of Sussex would be a viable candidate for president one day.

‘It’s wonderful to have women in politics,’ she added: ‘The more women we have the better our democratic system will work. We welcome her to come in and join the Democratic party.’

Is Owens just freelancing here? That seems unlikely: Biden’s sister is a seasoned political operator who played a key role in her brother’s successful 2020 presidential campaign. She also worked with him on his Senate campaigns and his 2008 presidential bid, which saw him bow out and grant his support to Obama in exchange for the vice-presidency. Everything that she says or does publicly, especially to a journalist during a sit-down broadcast interview, is likely to have been carefully considered. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that this interview might be seen as a formal overture to Meghan from the Democratic party establishment. The message is simple: ‘Do you want to lend us your celebrity if we’re defeated by the Republicans at the next election?’

Many Democrats in America are currently resigned to the likelihood of Biden being a one-term head of state. The prospects of his defeat at the hands of a resurgent Trump, or similar populist Republican in 2024, are quite high. It’s also fairly likely that Biden, who will be 82 at the end of his first term, might decide he is unable to continue as president, given the perpetual rumours of incipient senility that surround him.

Should he step down, Kamala Harris would at least have to be offered the chance to run as president. But a growing number of Democrats are likely to resist the coronation of a hapless and gaffe-prone vice-president who hardly comes across as a strong candidate.

Under such a scenario, the appeal of a starry, glamorous figure willing to stand for the nomination come 2028 becomes clear. Owens is not alone in thinking that the Duchess would have an excellent chance of winning the nomination, and perhaps even the presidency.

President Meghan. The words will send a chill down the spine of those like me who are sceptical of Markle’s ladder climbing. The bland press release-led initiatives detailing her and Prince Harry’s Archewell foundation are a worrying indication of the missives a Meghan-led White House would fire out. Do we really want Meghan leading the Free World?

And how would Meghan handle the negative publicity that would inevitably follow any bid she makes for the top job in American politics? If she runs for public office, the media will feel licensed to pursue avenues that have previously been considered off limits, such as her first husband Trevor Engelson, who has kept a remarkably low profile since their divorce in 2013. The controversy and news stories that will inevitably emerge could make the tales involving previous presidential candidates look mild by comparison.

Still, if she does decide to go for it, Meghan can draw comfort from one particular precedent. When Donald Trump ran for president, he was by far the best-known and most controversial candidate the Republican party had ever put forward. Should Meghan become the Democratic version of Trump – a high-profile, divisive figure with enormous newsworthiness, for good or ill – then only a fool would bet against her (and her cavaliere servente Prince Harry) taking up residence in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue before the decade is out.

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