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21 October 2021

Meghan Markle writes letter ‘as a mom’ to US politicians calling for paid leave for new parents

21 October 2021

The Duchess of Sussex has written to members of the United States Congress and Senate calling for paid leave for new parents.

Meghan said she was writing the letter to House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Charles Schumer “as a mom” and “on behalf of millions of American families”.

The duchess, who is mother to Archie and Lilibet, said paid leave should be “a national right” as she reflected on how hard her parents worked and how she herself started working at the age of 13.

She wrote: “I grew up on the 4.99-dollar 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 to 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.”

Meghan and Harry holding their son Archie (Toby Melville/PA) (PA Wire)

Meghan reflected on her family life after the birth of Lilibet earlier this year, saying: “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).”

The Duchess of Sussex, accompanied by the Duke of Sussex, and her mother, Doria Ragland (Ben Stansall/PA) (PA Archive)

The former Suits actress, who signed off as “Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex”, concluded the letter, by writing: “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.”

The Sussexes have established a new life for themselves in the celebrity enclave of Montecito in California, buying a multimillion-pound home and launching a non-profit foundation.

Harry and Meghan have also signed lucrative deals – thought to be worth well over £100 million – with Spotify and Netflix that have given them the capital to pursue their new lifestyle and public goals.

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