Why the Royal Family May Not Stay Politically Neutral in the Future

"The royals understand they must change for the monarchy to survive," said an insider.

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It should have come as no surprise that after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle decided to relinquish their royal roles and start a new life in North America, they would become much more active in terms of politics and the fight for social justice here in the States. But in September, the duke and duchess came under fire for appearing in a Time 100 video where they encouraged Americans to vote in the 2020 presidential election. Without mentioning a specific candidate, Harry—who said, "I've never been able to vote in the U.K. my entire life"—urged voters to "reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity," while Meghan called the 2020 presidential race the "most important election of our lifetime."

As a result, Meghan and Harry were criticized in the U.K. for their alleged break of protocol. They touched off a torrent of editorials in Britain for going against the longstanding practice upheld by Queen Elizabeth that she and her family remain politically neutral at all times.

But, at a time of huge social change and political upheaval around the world and when the highest profile members of the royal family are leaning into the political arena, can the rest of the family maintain a neutral stance on important issues and remain relevant? Read on to find out what insiders say, and for more on Harry's ongoing battle with his family, check out This Is the One Thing Prince Harry Wants Back From the Royal Family.

Read the original article on Best Life.

The Palace has distanced itself from Harry and Meghan's political views.

Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke en Duchess of Sussex, arrive in Dublin, on the 1st of a 2 days visit to Dublin, 2018
Albert Nieboer/ Netherlands OUT/Point de Vue OUT / dpa/Alamy Live News

The Palace's official response to the Time video, which oddly did not mention Meghan, was: "The Duke is not a working member of the Royal Family and any comments he makes are made in a personal capacity." While it's true Harry and Meghan are no longer senior royals, they are arguably the highest profile members of the royal family. Though they may not have their royal status, they do have international stardom—and they clearly intend on continuing to leverage their celebrity to promote social and political causes.

On Nov. 3, Meghan made headlines as the first member of the British royal family to vote in a U.S. election. But just one day prior, a spokesperson for the couple told Insider that their speaking out will not end once the election is over. "Part of being an active member of society is to take part in the democratic process," the couple's representative said. "So encouraging people to get involved in politics is something that is important." And for more on the latest with these formal royals, check out Harry and Meghan Signal They May Be Ready to Give Up Their Royal Titles.

It is not illegal for the Queen to vote; it's simply longstanding tradition.

Queen Elizabeth II in Feb 2019
Paul Marriott/Alamy Live News

The Queen has never voted in the U.K. during her 68-year reign, although she has encouraged the act of voting in the past. Buckingham Palace's website explains her abstaining this way: "By convention, The Queen does not vote or stand for election, however Her Majesty does have important ceremonial and formal roles in relation to the government of the U.K."

Interestingly, British law doesn't bar royals from voting. "The Queen can vote, but in practice it is considered unconstitutional for the Monarch to vote in an election," the U.K. parliament says. It is simply a longstanding tradition that the Queen and the entire royal family—including Prince Charles and Prince William, second and third in line respectively—has adhered to for centuries. And for more on who's rising as the most popular member of the monarchy, check out This British Royal Is Now More Popular Than the Queen, New Poll Shows.

Politically charged issues among millennials could force a change among the royals.

black lives matter
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A Newsweek poll revealed the Queen's silence on Black Lives Matter (while Harry and Meghan have been quite vocal in their support) has split opinion in the U.K. with the majority of young people believing the monarch should speak out on the issue.

While Her Majesty has never shared her views on political issues, her heirs, knowing they need the support of the millennials, may consider a new, more outspoken approach. And for more on what's next for Her Majesty, check out Why Queen Elizabeth Could Be Considering Stepping Down, Insiders Say.

Charles has long been outspoken regarding environmental issues.

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Charles's activism on environmental issues like climate change have skirted the edge of politics for decades, and the prince has garnered criticism for that very reason in the past. Today, he is lauded for his prescient warnings and is more passionate than ever about supporting green causes. In a new interview with British Vogue, Charles implored world leaders and individuals to act so we can "rescue our world from disaster." And for the drama amid the fictional portrayal of this royal, check out Why the Queen Could Be Upset About Dominic West Playing Prince Charles.

And William has followed in his footsteps.

Prince William
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For his part, Prince William, who has grown increasingly vocal about saving the environment, recently launched The Earthshot Prize, an initiative of the Royal Foundation to "incentivise change and help to repair our planet over the next ten years—a critical decade for the Earth." The Foundation's website says the project was inspired by President John F. Kennedy's Moon Shot with "simple but ambitious goals for our planet which if achieved by 2030 will improve life for us all, for generations to come." And for the latest on the controversy surrounding the prince's battle with coronavirus, find out Why Prince William's COVID Diagnosis Could Spell Disaster For the Royals.

A royal insider says the monarchy may "never vote," but they need to "remain relevant."

Queen Elizabeth II attends The Braemar Gathering with Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, in 2019
Andrew Parsons / Parsons Media / i-Images Picture Agency

"This could be the time where the royal family needs to reevaluate how they remain relevant," a royal insider told Best Life. "They will never vote, but perhaps there is something to be gained by looking at Harry and Meghan's playbook without rewriting the entire script. The world is changing and the royals understand they must change with it for the monarchy to survive." And for more on another former member of the family who changed it from the inside out, here are 13 Amazing Ways Princess Diana Changed the Royal Family Forever.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

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