Meghan couldn't have made her Black Lives Matter speech if she'd been a working royal

Catriona Harvey-Jenner

From Cosmopolitan

Meghan Markle has spoken out powerfully against racism, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement that has become more prominent since the harrowing killing of African American man, George Floyd.

In an address to students about to graduate from her old high school, Immaculate Heart (which she attended between the ages of 11 and 18), the Duchess of Sussex spoke movingly about the value of the Black lives, and how they need to stop being so senselessly lost due to racism.

"George Floyd's life mattered and Breonna Taylor's life mattered and Philando Castile's life mattered and Tamir Rice's life mattered... and so many other people's, whose names we know and whose names we do not know. Stephon Clark, his life mattered," she said.

But one aspect of her speech may have meant that Meghan wouldn't have been able to speak out about the issue at all, had she still been a working member of the royal family.

During her video recording, the Duchess called upon the students from her old high school to see this moment not as an end, but as a beginning, and the start of their ability to make change.

"You are going to lead with love, you are going to lead with compassion, you are going to use your voice," Meghan said sincerely.

"You are going to use your voice in a stronger way than you have ever been able to, because most of you are 18 or you're going to turn 18 so you're going to vote."

Meghan left a lingering pause after her mention of voting. Without having to say anything at all, the silence forced viewers to think for a moment about how the people we vote in to lead our countries contribute to the state of society. And in urging change for the future - "We are going to rebuild, and rebuild, and rebuild, until it is rebuilt. Because when the foundation is broken, so are we," Meghan powerfully said - she suggests that voting is a way to make this necessary change. A way to strive for better things to come.

The subtext was political. But as a senior member of the royal family, this probably wouldn't have been something Meghan Markle would have been able to touch on in any public-facing address.

Photo credit: Samir Hussein - Getty Images

It's widely understood that the British royal family must be politically unbiased. It is the duty of the Queen - who heads up the royal family - to remain "strictly neutral with respect to political matters", according to the official website, meaning she is "unable to vote or stand for election". While this is not formally extended to the rest of the royal family, it is something they, too, typically honour.

Meghan Markle is famously outspoken about issues she cares about. And while the Black Lives Matter movement is absolutely a social one, indeed, a human rights one - it's also an issue that is political because of the change it requires at the top, as well as from a human-to-human level. It may perhaps feel freeing, then, that it's something she is able to share her thoughts on publicly.

"I am sorry that we haven't gotten the world to a place where you deserve it to be," the Duchess poignantly told the graduating students.

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