Appearing on ABC’s unveiling of the 2020 Time 100 list as alumni, the couple implored Americans to “reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity”

As the race for the White House heats up in the United States (US), people around the world are sitting up and waiting to see what's next for the country. Today was
National Voter Registration Day in the US, which falls on the fourth Tuesday of every September, and everyone from news anchors to celebrities made a rallying call for US citizens to register to vote—including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who made the rare move of weighing in on politics. 

While the couple has grabbed headlines for various reasons over the past few months, they've kept a relatively low profile in terms of television appearances. That remained the case until yesterday (September 22), when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made their first joint TV appearance since relocating to the US.

Speaking as alumni of Time 100Time magazine’s annual list of changemakers and leaders, which included Harry and Meghan in 2018—the couple appeared on Time’s TV special on ABC to congratulate those named in 2020’s list.

“Thank you, Time, for including us in this very special evening, and congratulations to this year's transformative leaders and changemakers,” Harry said, addressing viewers from their home in Santa Barbara.

“You work tirelessly to create a better world, a better global community for all of us, and we thank you and celebrate you tonight.”

“You're playing a critical role for our future and that of our children, seeing our world through the lens of the community is so important because we need to redraw the lines of how we engage with each other both online and off. What we're exposed to online seeps into how we engage with each other offline, it can train us to be kind or it can train us to be cruel,” Meghan added.

“Every four years we are told the same thing, that this is the most important election of our lifetime,” Meghan said.

“But this one is. When we vote, our values are put into action and our voices are heard. Your voice is a reminder that you matter, because you do and you deserve to be heard.”

Prior to dating Harry and becoming a member of the British royal family, Meghan had an acting career and was known to be vocal about politics and activism. During the 2016 elections, Meghan reportedly called Donald Trump “misogynistic” and “divisive” and pledged to vote for Hillary Clinton. However, upon her marriage to Harry, the Duchess maintained an apolitical stance as per royal protocol.

Now that the couple has stepped down as senior royals, it appears that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be abiding by these expectations, with Meghan actively campaigning for Americans to vote, and confirming that she would also be voting.

“I know what it's like to have a voice, and also what it's like to feel voiceless,” she told Marie Claire in a statement.

“I also know that so many men and women have put their lives on the line for us to be heard. And that opportunity, that fundamental right, is in our ability to exercise our right to vote and to make all of our voices heard.”

Harry, on the other hand, will not be voting as he is not a US citizen. In the Time 100 address, the royal admitted that he was not eligible, and had never voted in the UK as royals are meant to be politically neutral.

“As we approach this November, it’s vital that we reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity,” he added.

While there is no law governing the political stance of royals, the fact that Meghan, and especially Harry, are involving themselves with the upcoming presidential election has sparked debate.

When Meghan participated in the When Women Vote conference in August, English broadcaster and journalist Piers Morgan called for the Sussexes to be stripped of their royal titles.

“They can’t remain as royals [and] spout off about foreign elections in such a brazenly partisan way,” he tweeted in August.

After the Time 100 broadcast, Piers tweeted his displeasure again, “Prince Harry poking his woke nose into the US election [and] effectively telling Americans to vote against President Trump is completely unacceptable behaviour for a member of the Royal Family.”

It is worth noting, however, that while Queen Elizabeth has remained politically neutral through her reign, she has personally spoken of the importance of voting in 2003, following a low voter turnout in Wales.

“It is vital to the health both of the United Kingdom and of Wales that our democratic institutions flourish and adapt," the monarch had said during a visit to the Welsh Assembly.

“I share your concerns that we must encourage all our people to exercise their right to vote. This is a real challenge now before us all.”

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