Meghan Markle is already using her platform as a soon-to-be royal to highlight the Me Too and Time’s Up campaigns, showing an outspokenness that experts said is “extremely rare.”
During her first official joint outing with Prince Harry, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge on Wednesday, the former actress and United Nations advocate for women spoke up, suggesting she may challenge the notion that the royal family eschews causes that show bias.
“I hear a lot of people speaking about girls’ empowerment, finding and knowing their worth, and women’s empowerment as well. You’ll often hear people saying but you’re helping women find their voices,” Markle said during the first annual forum for the Royal Foundation, a charitable organization founded by the princes in 2009.
“I fundamentally disagree with that because women don’t need to find a voice, they have a voice, they need to feel empowered to use it and people need to be urged to listen.”
She added: “Right now with so many campaigns, Me Too and Time’s Up, there is no better time to really continue to shine a light on women feeling empowered and people really helping to support them, men included in that. It makes such a tremendous difference.”
Markle’s mention of the Me Too and Time’s Up movements was notable, as the royal family typically stays away from stances on anything that shows political affiliation or bias.
“It is extremely rare for any member of the royal family to actively comment on political and cultural movements as the British royal family, which is a constitutional monarchy, are meant to be above politics and related matters,” William Hanson, a British etiquette expert and coach told HuffPost.
“For Ms. Markle to comment today does break royal precedent but we must remember that Ms. Markle is not yet royal and will probably have been using her not-quite-yet-royal status to comment on the Me Too and Time’s Up movements,” Hanson continued. “She may need to slightly adjust her forthrightness when she marries Prince Harry in May, but equally she may be able and allowed to blaze a new trail for the British royal family.”
Her comments may suggest royal protocol is evolving, said Diana Mather, director and senior tutor at The English Manner, an international protocol, etiquette and hospitality consultancy in the U.K.
“I think Meghan will have to be careful not to ‘cross the line,’ as even though the Royals back certain things, they cannot afford to be controversial,” Mather told HuffPost. “Protocol is becoming more relaxed in the 21st century and the Royal Family want to be seen as making a difference.”
Earlier this month, the Duchess of Cambridge faced scrutiny after forgoing the all-black dress code at the British Academy Film Awards on Feb. 18. Many stars wore black to show their support for the Time’s Up movement, much like celebrities did at the Golden Globes awards in January.
However, Prince Charles is very outspoken about climate change, and Prince William and Prince Harry have made conservation a main focus. That suggests, as Hanson said, that Markle may have free reign to continue to advocate women’s rights.
Markle wouldn’t name specific causes she will focus on after the royal wedding. She said she just has to “wait a couple months and then we can hit the ground running.”
After the four finished addressing causes the Royal Foundation supports, the questions became more lighthearted. Presenter Tina Daheley asked the group if they “ever have disagreements,” and Prince William began laughing.
“Oh yes,” he said, before Harry added that they were simply “healthy disagreements.”
Watch the rest of the forum below: