18:36 GMT16 April 2021
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    Meghan Markle, the California-born Duchess of Sussex, is reportedly considering tossing her hat into the ring of the US 2024 presidential election, the Daily Mail broke on 13 March. If she succeeds, she would be the first female president of the US and the second non-white "leader of the free world" after Barack Obama. What are her election odds?

    A Labour figure, and former official in Tony Blair's Downing Street Cabinet with strong links to Washington, told the Daily Mail that Markle was interacting with senior Democrats with an alleged aim of building a campaign and fundraising teams: "The Blairite, internationalist and Democratic party networks are buzzing with talk about Meghan's political ambitions and potential backers", the ex-official told the media outlet.

    Kamala Harris Does Not Leave Much Political Room for Meghan

    If Markle decided to run, she would find herself in a crowded political space with, potentially, incumbent President Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris, as well several other much more experienced political heavyweights, participating in the race, says Professor Robert Singh, specialist in contemporary US politics at Birkbeck, University of London.

    Still, it is far from clear what Markle would build her election campaign on, says the academic, assuming that she could engage in issues about racial and gender inequality, since these are themes she often emphasises, along with some kind of environmentalism. However, given that Kamala Harris, the first African-American and first Asian-American vice president, already "owns" the issues of race and gender, it appears that the duchess' odds of winning are slim, according to the academic.

    "Meghan Markle has roughly the same chance to become the president of the United States as American television personalities Joy Reid or Jimmy Kimmel. Zero", echoes Richard Vatz, a distinguished professor of rhetoric and communication at Towson University.

    He points out that to become president, one must have a superstructure of political support of professionals, party and otherwise, and the popular support of the hoi polloi, as well as a modicum of political knowledge for public appearances and debate.

    "Markle has none of these, nor is there any evidence that she has any staying power regarding her political significance", he stresses.

    To complicate matters further, the duchess is a political outsider which makes her chances minuscule, agrees Dr Thomas Whalen, associate professor of social science at Boston University. Still, he does not rule out that it deserves a try.

    "I think she would be wise to base her candidacy on creating greater diversity and economic equality for American society", he said. "Since Jimmy Carter surprised everyone and wrested the Democratic nomination from seasoned Democratic Party stalwarts in 1976, outsiders have done very well in the party. Bernie Sanders was never a Democrat and look how close he came in 2016 to becoming the nominee!"
    A person is seen reading the London Evening Standard with the news that Prince Harry has announced his engagement to Meghan Markle, London, Britain, November 27, 2017. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo
    © REUTERS / DARRIN ZAMMIT LUPI
    A person is seen reading the London Evening Standard with the news that Prince Harry has announced his engagement to Meghan Markle, London, Britain, November 27, 2017. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo

    How Could Markle Capitalise on Her Media Furore?

    The latest speculation of Markle's possible election bid came on the heels of the couple's tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey. Meghan's story stirred a lot of controversy over "racist views" allegedly maintained by some members of the royal family and triggered a heated debate on social media, with some siding with the Sussexes and others condemning them.

    Still, it remains unclear whether the duchess will be able to capitalise on the furore to promote her political career, believes Thomas Whalen.

    "Meghan Markle definitely has great name recognition now but how that will translate on these shores is uncertain", he says. "Being associated with British royalty, despite how shamefully she was apparently treated by them, might backfire against her. We don’t elect kings and queens here - though Donald Trump did his best to rule like a monarch".

    The duchess' latest television appearance apparently left Robert Singh unimpressed too. According to him, she does not have the guts for political fighting given that "she couldn't handle the British press".

    "She is, needless to say, a failed actress and Z-list celeb whose 'inspirational' lesson in feminism to women is (a) marry a British prince who once went to a party dressed as a Nazi and referred to a fellow soldier as 'my little P*** friend' before lecturing us all about racism, (b) live in a castle and (c) cash in and move to Hollywood to exploit being a 'royal'", he presumes, adding that none of the above appear "progressive".

    What seems to be more probable is that she could donate to and assist Democrats across the US and build a list of donors to whom she might appeal for funds in a future campaign.

    "Quite what she brings to anything remains questionable, I think, and there's limited mileage in the US to just disliking the royal family", he says.

    (FILES) In this file photo Britain's Prince Harry and wife Meghan arrive for a public walk at the Sydney Opera House in Sydney on October 16, 2018
    © AFP 2021 / DAN HIMBRECHTS
    (FILES) In this file photo Britain's Prince Harry and wife Meghan arrive for a public walk at the Sydney Opera House in Sydney on October 16, 2018

    Embodiment of the American Dream: Meghan's Political Ambitions

    This is not the first time that Markle has been rumoured of having presidential ambitions. On 21 June 2020, Lady Colin Campbell, a Jamaican-born British writer, socialite, and television personality, told the Daily Mail Femail that Markle wants to become the US president.

    "I know the Duchess of Sussex has political ambitions and I've been told that one day she wants to run for president", the writer said. "I think everything she is doing, leaving the royal family and moving back to California is part of her plan and she has taken Harry along with her".

    The couple's decision to give up their titles "His Royal Highness" and "Her Royal Highness", has also added to the speculations about Meghan's White House ambitions.

    As the US got bogged down in protests over George Floyd's death in police custody, a friend of Markle told the Daily Mail that the duchess believes she was "destined" to help fight systemic racism in the US and that her instinct to leave the UK and return to California "all makes sense to her now".

    ​Earlier, Markle addressed the George Floyd protests and signalled her support for the Black Lives Matter cause in a video conference with graduates of the Immaculate Heart High School. "Is Meghan Markle considering a political career thanks to Black Lives Matter?" a Vanity Fair headline asked in June 2020.

    On 24 September, VF again discussed Markle's political ambitions, citing her biographer Omid Scobie, who previously claimed Meghan had "set her sights on the White House".

    "Meghan is the embodiment of the American dream", Scobie said. "One day we may see Meghan become president".

    The article also drew attention to the duchess' political activism ahead of the 2020 US election. Thus, Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle and Prince Harry released a video in which she called the 2020 November presidential election "the most important election of our lifetime". Given that earlier Markle had subjected Donald Trump to harsh criticism, many regarded her words as support for Joe Biden. Buckingham Palace distanced itself from the couple's comments by saying that they were "made in a personal capacity".

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    Queen Elizabeth II, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, US elections, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, US, United Kingdom
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