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Historian Professor Jenny Hocking argued that what the Duke and Duchess of Sussex do does not reflect positively or negatively on the monarchy, because they are more celebrities than royals now. Their new role of “celebrity royals” is an unprecedented position, because no one has stepped down from duties in this way before. The only comparable couple ‒ the Duke and Duchess of Windsor ‒ lived in exile in the Bahamas and France and were certainly not able to work in the same way that the Sussexes are now able to.
Meghan and Harry have, for example, signed a multi-million dollar deal with Netflix to produce shows and have signed up to the prestigious Harry Walker Agency for public speaking.
Prof Hocking, who is a National Committee Member of the Australian Republic Movement, said Meghan and Harry are now so removed from the Royal Family they are unlikely to affect the republican movement much.
She said: “I always feel like that has become much more a sense of them as celebrity royals, rather than reflecting on the monarchy.
“It’s become part of a different notion of celebrity and I’m not sure it actually impacts on people’s feelings about the republic and so on to a great extent.”
The Australian republic movement wishes for Australia to ditch the British monarchy and establish their own head of state.
The country had a referendum in 1999, in which 54.87 percent of Australians voted to keep the Queen as their head of state.
However, recent polling by YouGov puts Australian republican sentiment at 62 percent in 2020.
Prof Hocking argued that there has been a majority in favour of a republic for some time, but that at the time of the 1999 referendum, there had not been a credible alternative mapped out yet.
She also claimed bipartisan support would be needed in order to pass the referendum because not only is an overall majority required, but also a majority of the states to vote in favour of republicanism.
Regarding Meghan and Harry’s latest movements, she praised the Duchess for speaking out on the US election, asserting that it is a “wonderful” thing to do.
She said: “There was quite an interesting coverage of Meghan Markle’s recent speeches encouraging people to vote, which I happen to think is a wonderful thing.
“Because it’s an expression of a civic duty not a partisan, political duty as some people seem to suggest it was, but actually it’s a civic duty and responsibility and a good thing to vote.
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“It’s a broader inference, it’s more like the sorts of things that I think Princess Diana was involved in, matters that were above politics in that sense but actually were about broader international and national concerns, rather than party political concerns.”
Both Meghan and Harry ‒ but especially the Duchess ‒ have been encouraging Americans to vote in the US election since August.
With Americans going to the polls tomorrow, it is likely that the result will be known by Wednesday morning, whether US President Donald Trump will get a second term or whether Democratic nominee Joe Biden will sweep a win.
Prof Hocking’s words will be a boost for Meghan, who has come under fire for what some people have viewed as wading too much into politics.
The monarchy as an institution is supposed to remain impartial and therefore it is convention that the Queen and her immediate family stay out of politics.
However, the rules may well be different for Meghan and Harry in their new, unprecedented roles.
Celebrities have been known to express their political opinions and use their influence to push a personal agenda.
On the other hand, the Sussexes have not actually come out in support of either side, despite many people believing they privately support Mr Biden.
This is in part due to Meghan’s comments on Mr Trump in 2016, when she called him “divisive” and “misogynistic” and in part due to the fact their values appear to line up more closely with the Democratic Party.
What’s more, Mr Biden has a personal relationship with Harry, having attended the Invictus Games multiple times with his wife Jill.
The Invictus Games is a Paralympic-style sporting event founded by Harry in which sick, injured and wounded armed service personnel and veterans compete in adaptive sports like wheelchair basketball.
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