Meghan Markle writes to Pelosi and Schumer saying paid leave should be a ‘national right’
Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, has turned into a lobbyist and written on Wednesday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer advocating for paid family leave.
‘I’m not an elected official, and I’m not a politician,’ Markle, who is long rumored to be keen on a career in politics, wrote. ‘I’m writing to you at this deeply important time – as a mom – to advocate for paid leave.’
The extraordinary 1,030-word letter – handed out to supportive media to share – asked Pelosi and Schumer to consider her plea ‘on behalf of my family, Archie and Lili and Harry’.
The duchess depicted humble beginnings, saying that her family struggled when she was young, despite being privately educated at $9,412-a-semester Immaculate Heart High School, one of Hollywood’s most sought-after schools.
Markle also attended a private primary school – Hollywood’s Little Red Schoolhouse nursery – from age two. Her father Thomas was an Emmy award-winning lighting director, and her mother Doria worked as an airline steward.
‘I grew up on the $4.99 salad bar at Sizzler,’ Markle wrote in the letter.
‘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. 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, before bashing the American economic system.
‘Many of our economic systems are past their expiration date, and as you well know, too many Americans are forced to shortchange themselves when it comes to what matters to them.’
Markle, pictured above with Prince Harry and her first born Archie, made a rare political statement on Wednesday
The duchess went on to detail her humble beginnings. ‘I grew up on the $4.99 salad bar at Sizzler,’ she said
Markle then recognized that she had not struggled in the same way many new parents who are not offered paid leave do.
‘In June, my husband and I welcomed our second child,’ she said.
‘Like any parents, we were overjoyed. Like many parents, we were overwhelmed. Like fewer parents, we weren’t confronted with the harsh reality of either spending those first few critical months with our baby or going back to work.’
She acknowledged ‘how politically charged things can — and have — become,’ but said that the issue ‘isn’t about Right or Left, it’s about right or wrong.’
A spokesman for Meghan said she ‘cares deeply about advocating for families in the US and around the world’ and had partnered with three campaign organizations on the issue.
Tucked into the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation plan is a national paid leave program that would offer 12 weeks to new parents.
But as Democrats work to trim down the package to fit to a price tag that two Democrat holdout senators – Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia – would approve of, Biden informed his party that he would have to trim that number down to four weeks.
Progressives pushed back, with 15 Senate Democrats led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand writing to Schumer and Pelosi backing a more robust paid family and medical leave program.
The paid leave debate opened back up this week after it was revealed that Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg had been on paid leave after the birth of his twin newborns since mid-August.
Some on the right noted his absence in the midst of a supply chain crisis and rampant inflation, while the White House defended him, arguing that all Americans should be entitled to paid leave at the birth of a child.
Meghan and Harry are pictured with their newborn son Archie at Windsor Castle on May 8, 2019
Meghan and Harry are seen in September during a visit to New York City. The pair went to the One World Observatory, with a camera crew in tow
Markle and her husband Prince Harry left their jobs as working members of the royal family in January 2020 and took up residence in the Californian celebrity enclave of Montecito.
The pair have indicated that they are still considering whether their daughter Lilibet will be christened in Britain or America.
Insiders had insisted that Lilibet’s christening at Windsor Castle was ‘highly unlikely’ and that the Sussexes were planning to have their four-month-old – born in Santa Barbara on June 4 and named after the Queen – baptized at the Episcopal Church of the U.S.
The claims of a U.S. christening, first made in the Telegraph, raised questions about whether the Queen, now 95, would ever get to meet her great-granddaughter in person.
It had previously been suggested that Harry and Meghan – who dramatically quit their roles as working royals last year to become financially independent – would christen Lilibet Diana at Windsor Castle in front of the monarch.
Conducting the ceremony in the United States will mean that Lilibet will not be considered a ‘member’ of the Church of England automatically.
However, the young royal could later join a Church of England congregation if she came to the UK.
A slice of happy family life: Sitting next to grandmother Jeanette, 12-year-old Meghan tucks into a cake at her cousin Donovan’s birthday party in 1993
Meghan on her 11th birthday with her mother Doria in 1992, seen in pictures kept by her uncle Joseph Johnson
Meghan – a multi-millionaire former actress who lives with her husband and children in a $14million LA mansion – attended a Catholic high school but was baptized and confirmed into the CoE in a private ceremony conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
Since moving to the United States, Harry and Meghan have signed lucrative deals – thought to be worth well over $150 million – with Spotify and Netflix that have given them the capital to pursue their new lifestyle and public goals.
Last week, MailOnline revealed how Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have also made a move into the stock market, which will see them work alongside a band of self-styled Wall Street ‘hippies’.
Ethic, a New York-based fintech asset manager, is run by a wealthy British former public schoolboy who starts meetings with ‘gratitude sessions’ where staff thank each other for their hard work and can pet the office dog, given the title ‘Chief Smile Officer’.
It is the couple’s latest move in their efforts to build what experts believe could be a $1billion brand in the U.S. after quitting the Royal Family for independence and to earn their own money.
Business experts declared themselves flummoxed at what an ‘impact partner’ is, although the best guess seemed to be a super-charged brand ambassador.
The Sussexes have not said how much of their fortune they have invested in the $1billion investment fund, having been introduced to the founders by a mutual friend.
Ethic was set up by Briton Jay Lipman – a red-haired Prince Harry lookalike from London, now settled in the US having worked for Deutsche Bank.
He says he ‘loves hippies’ to invest with them, because the team, several of whom worked for JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, consider themselves hippies too.
Meghan Markle’s 1030-word paid parental leave plea letter in full
Dear Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi,
I’m not an elected official, and I’m not a politician. I am, like many, an engaged citizen and a parent.
And because you and your congressional colleagues have a role in shaping family outcomes for generations to come, that’s how I’m writing to you at this deeply important time – as a mom – to advocate for paid parental leave.
Over the past 20 months, the pandemic has exposed long-existing fault lines in our communities. At an alarming rate, millions of women dropped out of the workforce, staying home with their kids as schools and day cares were closed, and looking after loved ones full-time. The working mom or parent is facing the conflict of being present or being paid. The sacrifice of either comes at a great cost.
For many, this sacrifice goes back further than the past 20 months; it’s 20 or 30 years, even longer – decades of giving time, body and endless energy not just in pursuit of the American dream, but simply in the dream of stability.
I grew up on the $4.99 salad bar at Sizzler – it may have cost less back then (to be honest, I can’t remember) – but what I do remember was the feeling; I knew how hard my parents worked to afford this because even at five bucks, eating out was something special and I felt lucky. And as a Girl Scout, when my troop would go for dinner for a big celebration, it was back to that same salad bar or The Old Spaghetti Factory – because that’s what those families could afford to do too.
I started working (at the local frozen yogurt shop) at the age of 13. I waited tables, babysat, and piece-mealed jobs together to cover odds and ends. 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. Perhaps you do too. People in our country work incredibly hard, and yet the ask is soft; for a level playing field to achieve their version of a common dream – what is fair, and equal and right. Many of our economic systems are past their expiration date, and as you well know, too many Americans are forced to shortchange themselves when it comes to what matters to them.
In June, my husband and I welcomed our second child. Like any parents, we were overjoyed. Like many parents, we were overwhelmed. Like fewer parents, we weren’t confronted with the harsh reality of either spending those first few critical months with our baby or going back to work. We knew we could take her home, and in that vital (and sacred) stage, devote any and everything to our kids and to our family. We knew that by doing so, we wouldn’t have to make impossible choices about childcare, work, and medical care that so many have to make every single day.
No family should be faced with these decisions. No family should have to choose between earning a living and having the freedom to take care of their child (or a loved one, or themselves, as we would see with a comprehensive paid leave plan).
In taking care of your child, you take care of your community, and you take care of your country – because when paid leave is a right, we’re creating a foundation that helps address mental health outcomes, health care costs, and economic strength at the starting line. Instead, as it stands now, we spend a fortune as a country paying into symptoms rather than causes. I understand that with everything going on these days, people might find it easy to be apathetic about what’s happening in Washington D.C. And then equally, when it feels like your voice doesn’t matter, you tend to use it less often, but with stakes this high none of us can afford to let apathy win.
I’m writing to you on behalf millions of American families who are using their voices to say that comprehensive paid leave should not be a place to compromise or negotiate. In fact, most nations already have paid leave policies in place. Estonia, for example, offers over a year and a half of leave to be shared by new parents. Many other countries have robust programs that give months of time for both parents (birth or adoptive) to be at home with their child. The United States in stark contrast does not federally guarantee any person a single day of paid leave. And fewer than one in four workers has dedicated paid family leave through their employer. I’m sure you agree that if we are to continue to be exceptional, then we can’t be the exception.
The families you represent need your strong leadership. With paid leave on the cusp of becoming a national reality, I trust you will meet this moment. I know you must hear from your constituents about the choices they are facing every day to make ends meet and care for their families.
Paid leave should be a national right, rather than a patchwork option limited to those whose employers have policies in place, or those who live in one of the few states where a leave program exists. If we’re going to create a new era of family-first policies, let’s make sure that includes a strong paid leave program for every American that’s guaranteed, accessible, and encouraged without stigma or penalty.
I know how politically charged things can – and have – become. But this isn’t about right or left, it’s about right or wrong. This is about putting families above politics. And for a refreshing change, it’s something we all seem to agree on. At a point when everything feels so divisive, let this be a shared goal that unites us.
So, on behalf of my family, Archie and Lili and Harry, I thank you for considering this letter, and on behalf of all families, I ask you to ensure this consequential moment is not lost.
Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex