The duke recorded a video with the Duchess of Sussex for Time magazine, but has faced a backlash amid accusations of political interference
23 September 2020

Buckingham Palace distances itself from Harry’s remarks on voting in US election

Buckingham Palace has appeared to distance itself from comments made by Prince Harry as he urged people in the US to ‘reject hate speech’ and vote in the presidential elections.

The prince has faced a backlash amid claims of political interference and suggestions he is telling people to vote against Republican nominee President Donald Trump.

The Palace highlighted the fact that he is no longer a working royal, and said his remarks were made in a “personal capacity”.

A palace spokesman said: “We would not comment. The duke [of Sussex] is not a working member of the royal family and any comments he makes are made in a personal capacity.”

Harry remains sixth in line to the throne despite stepping down as a senior working royal, and members of the royal family traditionally do not vote or become involved in elections or political matters.

The Queen, as a constitutional head of state, is politically neutral.

Her grandson said in a video for Time magazine as he sat on a bench alongside Meghan at their Californian home: “As we approach this November, it’s vital that we reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity.”

Mr Trump, who is campaigning for re-election, has often been criticised for using inflammatory language, and in August, Facebook deleted one of his posts for the first time for violating its policy against spreading misinformation about coronavirus.

Twitter began labelling Mr Trump’s tweets with fact checks in May.

Broadcaster Piers Morgan condemned Harry for his remarks, tweeting: “Prince Harry poking his woke nose into the US election & effectively telling Americans to vote against President Trump is completely unacceptable behaviour for a member of the Royal Family.”

A source close to Harry insisted the duke was not referring to Mr Trump nor any other individual.

“The duke was talking about the tone of debate in the run-up to an election which is already quite febrile,” they said.

“He is not talking about any candidate or specific campaign.

“He is building on a lot of stuff that he’s said before about online communities, how we engage with each other online, rather than specifically making any political points.”

A source close to Harry insisted the duke was not referring to Mr Trump nor any other individual (PA Wire)

Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, questioned the wisdom of Harry’s comments.

“I think it is understandable that Meghan, as a US citizen, is doing what she is doing to encourage people to vote in the forthcoming election, but I question the wisdom of her husband doing likewise,” Mr Little said.

“Harry is no longer a working member of the royal family but he remains a senior member of the royal family and with that comes responsibilities. It seems unlikely that he’d be making the remarks he’s been making were he still in the UK.”

Harry reminded Americans to be discerning in terms of the content they consume online.

The duke said: “When the bad outweighs the good, for many, whether we realise it or not, it erodes our ability to have compassion and our ability to put our self in someone else’s shoes.

“Because when one person buys into negativity online, the effects are felt exponentially. It’s time to not only reflect, but act.”

The 36-year-old duke mentioned that he would not be voting in the election due to his lack of US citizenship, adding he has never voted in UK elections because of his position.

Your voice is a reminder that you matter, because you do and you deserve to be heard

Harry said: “This election, I’m not going to be able to vote here in the US. But many of you might not know that I haven’t been able to vote in the UK my entire life.”

The source declined to comment on whether Harry’s phrase “this election” suggested he would be applying for dual citizenship in the US in order to be able to vote in future elections.

“They are not working royals. They are private citizens and it’s understandable they want to keep those matters private,” the source said.

Although UK law does not ban royalty from voting, it is considered unconstitutional for them to do so.

Harry quit as a senior working royal with Meghan in March in a bid for personal and financial freedom and now lives in the US, but they are still members of the royal family.

The duchess, who mocked then-Republican candidate Mr Trump during a 2016 television appearance, said in the video the November poll was the “most important election of our lifetime”.

Harry and Meghan have received criticism for getting involved in politics (PA Wire)

“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,” she said.

Meghan told lawyer and feminist activist Gloria Steinem last month she was “so excited” to see fellow biracial woman Kamala Harris selected as Democrat Joe Biden’s running mate.

Ms Steinem has said the duchess came home to vote and has been cold-calling people to encourage voter participation.

As a result of the Time video, bookmaker Ladbrokes now has Meghan at odds of 100/1 to become US president in 2024.

Harry and Meghan were filmed to mark Time 100, a list compiled by the magazine to celebrate the world’s most influential people.

Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic – which campaigns for an elected head of state, said of Harry: “He can be an activist or a royal. He can’t be both.

“He would obviously be happier campaigning so he needs to ditch the HRH and Duke and get on living as a private citizen paying his own way.”

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