(Reuters) - Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s first baby, due later this spring, will almost surely extend a long tradition of supporting royal causes, but those same customs will constrain the new prince or princess when it comes to politics.
Meghan Markle used her celebrity to back Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and attacked Donald Trump as “misogynistic” and “divisive.” The Los Angeles-born actress has worked as an ambassador for United Nations Women and the charity World Vision.
A pregnant Markle, speaking in March on an International Women’s Day panel at King’s College, London, addressed the likelihood that her child will grow up learning gender equality as much as the ABCs.
“I’d seen this documentary on Netflix about feminism and one of the things they said during pregnancy was ‘I feel the embryonic kicking of feminism,’” Markle said.
“I love that. So boy or girl or whatever it is, we hope that that’s the case, with our little bump.”
But commenting on international politics could get her into trouble with the royal household.
The royal family for years has backed charities with social causes, and Queen Elizabeth has been patron or president of more than 600 of them, ranging from wildlife groups and sporting bodies to military organizations.
But the royals are expected to steer well clear of politics, despite a long history of politically incorrect blunders. Harry had to apologize in January 2009 after a newspaper published video footage showing him referring to Asian army comrades with derogatory language. He also was pilloried for wearing a Nazi uniform at a costume party, a gaffe that sparked a global outcry.
“There’s no problem with Meghan speaking out on feminism, social justice and equality issues, but if she starts getting political she’ll be in hot water,” said Katie Nicholl, author of “Harry: Life, Loss, and Love.” “The Queen is politically neutral. She expects her family to be the same.”
Meghan seems to see activism as a family affair.
“Harry and I see the world so similarly in our approach of being very hands-on with things,” Meghan said in February at a forum at the Royal Foundation.
Harry and his elder brother William have followed in the footsteps of their mother Diana, whose work with AIDS and HIV patients and tackling landmines won global attention. In 2017, the princes led a campaign to erase the stigma of mental health illness and spoke of their personal struggle following their mother’s death in a Paris car crash in 1997.
The Royal Foundation, which the princes run with their wives, aims to combat cyberbullying, and supports wildlife conservation, the military and other causes.
Even the start of Meghan and Harry’s romance had roots in a social cause. They slipped off to Botswana shortly after they began dating in July 2016 in what Harry described as a “crucial” chance to get to know one another. Harry, who first visited the southern African country when he was 13, two months after his mother’s death, is a patron of Rhino Conservation Botswana.
“It feels very second nature for that child to continue their efforts,” said Mahogany Browne, a Brooklyn-based poet and author of “Woke Baby,” a board book encouraging the littlest progressives to toddle in pursuit of social justice.
“Traveling to Botswana, being philanthropists. It feels like it will be a familial charge.”
Additional reporting by Alicia Powell and Patricia Reaney in New York and Michael Holden in London; editing by Bill Tarrant and Richard Chang