US Rep. Jason Smith says Meghan Markle should DROP her British royal title the next time she decides to wade into US politics by cold-calling members of Congress to lobby for paid parental leave: ‘She can’t have it both ways’
- Meghan Markle has been lobbying members of Congress in a bid to urge them to support Joe Biden’s plan for paid parental leave
- Duchess of Sussex first wrote a letter to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on October 20
- She then sent Starbucks gift cards to activists working to pass the proposal
- On Wednesday, it emerged that she had taken to cold-calling Republican senators on their cell phones, asking them to back the plan
- On Thursday, a Republican congressman for Missouri, Jason Smith, said he supported any American getting involved in politics – but not using royal titles
- Smith said Markle should simply introduce herself by stating: ‘I’m Meghan Markle, the former star of Suits’
Meghan Markle has been ridiculed by a congressman for using her royal title to lobby U.S. senators, noting that the British royal family had strict rules about not getting involved in politics.
The Duchess of Sussex cold-called at least two Republican senators – Susan Collins of Maine and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia – to plead with them to support paid parental leave.
Democrat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who gave Markle the senators’ personal phone numbers, said that the duchess now wants to be part of a ‘working group’ to thrash out policy proposals.
Jason Smith, a Republican congressman representing Missouri, said Markle was trading off her royal title and ‘interfering’ in an inappropriate way.
‘If she wants to be a royal, she needs to be a royal – she can’t have it both ways,’ Smith told TMZ on Thursday.
Meghan Markle, pictured with her husband Prince Harry, has been accused by a congressman of trading on her royal title
Jason Smith, a Republican congressman for Missouri, was asked by TMZ for his opinion on Markle’s lobbying efforts
‘I think it’s great for a U.S. citizen or for a former movie star of Suits to be lobbying U.S. senators.
‘But when you lobby U.S. senators, as Meghan Markle has done, as: ‘I’m Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex’ – she’s lobbying Congress and interfering from a position of using her royal title.’
Smith pointed out that the 40-year-old and her husband, Prince Harry, decided to leave the royal family in January 2020.
He recommended that, instead of calling senators and saying it was ‘Meghan, Duchess of Sussex’, she should say: ‘I’m Meghan Markle, the former star of Suits.’
Smith added: ‘Clearly if you look at the royal family, they have a long standing policy of being neutral in U.S. politics.
‘And her and Harry left the royal family. She did renounce her royal membership in the family.’
Smith said he would ‘welcome’ her calling him, and he would explain why he did not think the plans for paid parental leave that she and Gillibrand were promoting were a good idea.
Markle’s activism on the issue began on October 20, when she wrote a letter to the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and the leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer, to ask them to support the proposal – part of Biden’s infrastructure plan.
Markle referred to herself as someone from a modest background for whom eating at Sizzler was a treat, and said paid parental leave was vital for families like her childhood unit.
‘I grew up on the $4.99 salad bar at Sizzler,’ Markle wrote.
‘I knew how hard my parents worked to afford this because even at five bucks, eating out was something special, and I felt lucky. I started working (at the local frozen yogurt shop) at the age of 13.
‘I waited tables, babysat, and piecemealed jobs together to cover odds and ends,’ Markle said.
However, she failed to mention the $750,000 California state lottery win her father scooped in 1990, which funded her secondary education at $9,412-a-semester Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles.
Meghan also studied a private primary school – Hollywood’s Little Red Schoolhouse nursery, which she attended from the age of two.
The primary school now costs between $20,000 and $28,300-a-year, and was paid for by her father Thomas and her airline steward mother Doria’s salaries.
She went on to study at Northwestern, a college in Illinois, that would have cost $24,000-$28,000-a-year for tuition when Meghan studied there from 1999-2003.
But the duchess described working from the age of 13 doing several jobs ‘to cover odds and ends’ and said saving money was a ‘luxury’ in her family in her letter.
‘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.
‘I expect many of your constituents have their own version of that story,’ she continued.
Markle, pictured above with Prince Harry and her first born Archie, has waded into U.S. politics
Smith said: ‘I would love her to call me, and we could talk about it – like, Meghan, this bill does not help the families that go to eat at the Sizzler.’
He concluded: ‘I would just say, most of America is Team Kate anyhow.
‘I know that I am.’
Both the senators called by Markle said on Wednesday they were taken aback at her intervention.
Collins said: ‘I was happy to talk with her, but I’m more interested in what people from Maine are telling me about paid leave.’
Moore Capito said she expected the call to be Joe Manchin, the other senator for West Virginia. Manchin, a moderate Democrat, has been calling the shots for Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill, wringing concessions from progressives and cajoling moderate Republicans like Moore Capito to agree.
She told Politico: ‘I’m in my car. I’m driving. It says caller ID blocked. Honestly, I thought it was Senator Manchin, his calls come in blocked.
‘And she goes “Sen. Capito?” I said, “Yes.” She said, “This is Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.”‘
Moore Capito added: ‘I couldn’t figure out how she got my number.’
Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican senator for West Virginia, told Politico on Wednesday that she was shocked to receive a call from Markle
Susan Collins, Republican senator for Maine, was also called by Markle. She said: ‘I told her there were a lot of different approaches, and people were working on it’
Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat senator for New York, has said she handed out Collins and Moore Capito’s phone numbers to Markle to call. Gillibrand is one of the most vocal champions of paid parental leave
She expressed amusement that the Los Angeles-born Markle was using her British title to lobby U.S. senators, after having quit the royal family in 2020.
‘Much to my surprise, she called me on my private line and introduced herself as the Duchess of Sussex, which is kind of ironic’ said Collins.
She told Politico: ‘I was happy to talk with her, but I’m more interested in what people from Maine are telling me about paid leave.’
Collins later told The New York Times: ‘She just weighed in that she thought paid leave was really important, and I told her there were a lot of different approaches, and people were working on it.’
Biden had initially hoped to push through plans for a 12-week paid family and medical leave program, costing $500 billion over 10 years.
The benefit declined from 12 to four weeks, as the legislation shrank to less than $2 trillion from $3.5 trillion to win agreement from Manchin and fellow moderate Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.
Gillibrand said on Wednesday that she gave senators’ numbers to Markle, and said it was just the start.
‘I talked to each of the women senators and let them know that she’s going to reach out, because she only completed two of the calls,’ Gillibrand said.
‘She’s going to call some others, so I let them know in advance.’
Gillibrand added: ‘She wants to be part of a working group to work on paid leave long term and she’s going to be.
‘Whether this comes to fruition now or later, she’ll be part of a group of women that hopefully will work on paid leave together.’
Markle’s latest intervention heightens speculation that she sees herself in a political position in the future, like her heroines Angelina Jolie and Amal Clooney.
Some have even speculated that she could be considering a run for political office – even the presidency, according to wild online hype.
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