Thursday , June 13 2024

Meghan Markle’s path to the White House (and why Donald Trump could be an unlikely inspiration): Step-by-step guide to how Duchess of Sussex could use quasi-royal Nigerian tour as spring board for presidential bid

Meghan Markle’s mantra is that women can change the world. 

And after her presidential-like visit to her adopted ‘homeland’ of Nigeria, her supporters increasingly believe she is destined to do it herself from the Oval Office. 

Meghan’s Suits co-star Erika Alexander declared this week that the Duchess of Sussex is ‘heading to the White House’, predicting she is the activist and advocate for women with the courage to be the Leader of the Free World.

Experts have told MailOnline that Meghan could be just a few steps from the US Presidency – as long as she takes inspiration from one of her own most vocal critics, Donald Trump, and her British prince husband is willing to become an American. 

Eminent historian Christopher Phelps, an expert on US politics, told MailOnline today: ‘It would be a great story. The British prince who loved her so much he gave up his British citizenship to become an American. There would be no requirement for him to do it – but he would have to if she wanted to have any credibility’.  

Her pseudo-royal tour to self-proclaimed ‘homeland’ Nigeria with Prince Harry has been viewed by some as a potential springboard for her political career. 

One insider at the top of politics in liberal California told MailOnline today that the Duchess may be plotting a Donald Trump-inspired ‘queue jump’ into high office – amid speculation the US Presidency could be her ultimate aim. Mr Trump used The Apprentice to boost his profile and Fox News as a platform for his political views before he won the Republican presidential nomination. He is the only American president to have no previous political service.

‘She [Meghan] has her eyes on the prize’, the source said.

But another politico warned: ‘The buy-your-success thing is more suited as a Republican play. Meghan has political ambitions but like most celebrities or business people, they are not ready to put in the graft to get there. Maybe Oprah Winfrey could pull it off. But she’s put in the hard yards in other ways. Meghan hasn’t done anything’.

Professor Phelps, who teaches at the University of Nottingham in England, said parallels can be drawn between the former Suits star and ex-actor Ronald Reagan, who was Governor of California before he served as the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Arnold Schwarzenegger also made the transition from showbiz to politics.

‘Her name will open doors but you can’t just say “You all know who I am – vote for me” – she will need to have some substance on policy. Americans want to know how she would protect their jobs, where she stand of tax and to tackle crime in their neighbourhoods’, he said.

As speculation about her political ambitions continue, this is how the Duchess of Sussex could use her profile to build a grassroots campaign to take her to Washington – and the challenges she would face on the way.        

Meghan Markle's potential path to the White House

Meghan Markle’s potential path to the White House

Harry and Meghan visit the Giants of Africa charity at Ilupeju Senior Grammar School on May 12, 2024 in Lagos, Nigeria. The trip last week has been branded both royal and presidential, and a potential springboard to high office

Harry and Meghan visit the Giants of Africa charity at Ilupeju Senior Grammar School on May 12, 2024 in Lagos, Nigeria. The trip last week has been branded both royal and presidential, and a potential springboard to high office

Step 1: Increased activism in the US after ‘secret’ visit to Uvalde

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, places flowers as she mourns at a makeshift memorial outside Uvalde County Courthouse in Uvalde, Texas, on May 26, 2022

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, places flowers as she mourns at a makeshift memorial outside Uvalde County Courthouse in Uvalde, Texas, on May 26, 2022

Experts believe that Meghan Markle’s campaigning for a career in politics began when she turned up in Uvalde after tragedy struck. 

Ms Markle was spotted in May 2022 laying a bouquet of white roses at a makeshift memorial outside the Uvalde County Courthouse, not far from the scene of the senseless murders at Robb Elementary School.

She also stopped by an Uvalde community center that is hosting a blood drive, where she toured the facility and donated food, a volunteer there told DailyMail.com. ‘She did not want anybody to know who she was,’ the person said.

But nevertheless her appearance in Texas, flying in from her home in California and back again by private jet, made headlines around the world. 

Meghan has not spoken publicly on gun ownership, but in 2015 was quoted in a book as being pro controls.

Step 2: Support for women’s and LGBT+ groups

Her pseudo-royal tour to Nigeria last week, her increasing presence at Invictus events and her surprise appearance in Uvalde all point to a foray into politics not being over.

Harry and his wife kiss as she presents his polo team with the trophy for winning the 2024 Royal Salute Polo Challenge to Benefit Sentebale

Harry and his wife kiss as she presents his polo team with the trophy for winning the 2024 Royal Salute Polo Challenge to Benefit Sentebale

Experts predict that if high office is her aim, increasing public support for women’s rights, minority groups and the LGBTQ+ communities must follow, and even taking over a related charity to show Americans that ‘she can actually run something’.

Last year she spent International Women’s Day supporting an organisation that helps expectant mothers and their children. 

While there is no doubting her commitment to women’s issues, Professor Christopher Phelps has said that women, in particular, are key voters to  target, especially for Democrats.

‘The support and high turnout from women is crucial to the Democrats. Although Meghan has been a vocal supporter of them, they are no pushover’, he said.

‘She would also need to get support from labour groups and unions, women and especially black women as well as LGBT groups. There will be rivals with long standing relationships with them’.

But a senior political source told MailOnline that Meghan must do more.

‘Why would the United Auto Workers put boots on the ground for her? She hasn’t done anything for them. Democrats are all grass roots and organising’, they said.

Step 3: Ramp up Invictus appearances

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex hug Team United Kingdom competitor Lisa Johnston at the Invictus Games in The Hague

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex hug Team United Kingdom competitor Lisa Johnston at the Invictus Games in The Hague

A greater role in the Invictus Games could also be beneficial for Meghan because of its support for military heroes.  

The Duchess of Sussex may not have accompanied Harry to the UK for the Invictus Games anniversary event this week because she is afraid that she will be booed by the British public again, a royal expert claimed.

But she has been by her husband’s side at the Games themselves and very hands on in the build up to the first winter Invictus in Canada next year.

An insider said: ‘Harry deserves a lot of credit for his Invictus Games and his work with veterans. Meghan’s supported him and it reflects well on her too’.  

Step 4: More faux-royal tours of the world

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry insist that their trip to Nigeria was not a royal tour. 

But from the moment they stood for the British national anthem and attended red carpet events, many saw it differently. 

In fact, never mind faux-royal, the final leg of Harry and Meghan’s tour of Nigeria seemed decidedly presidential.

From the moment they touched down in Lagos, the Duke and Duchess were shadowed White House-fashion by secret servicemen muttering into earpieces, armed police officers and scowling special forces soldiers.

Not to mention their own, much smaller security team – and a smattering of anxious-looking female aides in shift dresses and Adidas trainers who trailed the Duchess.

Meghan smiles as she receives flowers during a sitting volleyball match in Abuja last Saturday

Meghan smiles as she receives flowers during a sitting volleyball match in Abuja last Saturday 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Lagos State Governor's House in Nigeria last Sunday

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Lagos State Governor’s House in Nigeria last Sunday

Meghan and Harry were so delighted by the reception they received on their trip to Nigeria that they are planning more quasi-royal tours, a source has claimed.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited the country for three days last week to promote mental health initiatives and the Invictus Games, the sporting event Harry, 39, founded for wounded military veterans.

The couple visited a local charity and met with military leaders, injured soldiers and school children, all of whom welcomed them smiles and enthusiasm.

A California politico told MailOnline: ‘It felt like the first the first major step towards Meghan becoming a stateswoman. Harry took a back seat. He was her First Lady, so to speak’.

Step 5: Follow the Trump playbook and take inspiration from Ronald Reagan

Donald Trump could be an unlikely inspiration to Meghan Markle – a woman he has widely criticised.

Trump successfully made the transition from businessman and TV star to the world’s most powerful politician – using TV appearances to increase his fame and discuss his politics.

And Meghan Markle was to make it to the White House, she wouldn’t be the first California star to do it.

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Reagan was Governor of California before he served as the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Arnold Schwarzenegger was also Governor.

‘There is precedent for this with Ronald Reagan. It can be done. But it has to be more than a name. There has to be a vision for the country. Americans will need convincing and want to see the policies’, Prof Phelps said.

Donald Trump was a famous businessman but he became a global superstar because of The Apprentice. Experts say this platform helped him air his politics and get to the White House

Donald Trump was a famous businessman but he became a global superstar because of The Apprentice. Experts say this platform helped him air his politics and get to the White House

Donald Trump was a famous businessman but he became a global superstar because of The Apprentice. Experts say this platform helped him air his politics and get to the White House

US President Ronald Reagan (L) greets Margaret Thatcher. Reagan went to acting star to the White House - after being Governor of California

US President Ronald Reagan (L) greets Margaret Thatcher. Reagan went to acting star to the White House – after being Governor of California

But the academic said there is a clear difference – the American public already knew where both actors stood on policy.  

‘Reagan had spent years on the speaking circuit and had honed his message and ideology’, he said.

Trump was a household name in America before his political career. But The Apprentice made him famous around the world.

Prof Phelps said: ‘There is no doubt that her name brings recognition. But what Donald Trump did was to protect and cultivate his media image. He would pick up the phone to journalists to plant favourable stories in the press.

‘He became a household name across America and the world because of his role in the Apprentice. And then he was a regular on Fox News talking politics.

‘I don’t think she needs a TV show – but she will need to tell the world what she stands for. Many Americans will wonder: Does Meghan have the experience? Has she actually ever sat on boards or run organisations?’

Step 6: Millionaires Meghan and Harry need to start fundraising (with a little help from rich friends)

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are not rich enough to fund a White House winning political campaign.

Despite living in a multi-million dollar mansion in Montecito, and having made a fortune from Netflix, Spotify and Spare – they need to get more cash.

The deep pockets of friends such as Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry will help, if they are willing. 

The success of Meghan’s American Riviera Orchard brand would also be crucial to funding any campaign, as would Harry’s own personal wealth. 

‘You need to have very deep pockets to support a political campaign. She will need support from the donor class and for them to provide her with a campaign war chest’, Prof Phelps said.

The deep pockets and profiles of Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey could be needed

The success of her American Riviera Orchard brand would also be crucial

The deep pockets and profiles of Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey could be needed. The success of her American Riviera Orchard brand would also be crucial

‘Both the left and right also rely on smaller donations from ardent supporters willing to give $25 of their own money to support a politician. On its own it is not a large amount of money – but it can add up to millions of dollars’.

A source in California said that with the launch of American Riviera Orchard the Duchess of Sussex is ‘hedging her bets’ between business and politics -but it’s an approach that will fail if she is not willing to do ‘any hard yards’. 

‘The whole point of climbing the political ladder is building a base and coalition as you advance. So when it comes to running for Senate, you have political resources to draw on that puts an army out on precinct walks, endorsements that carry a constituency, and influencers who can lock up those endorsements. Name recognition and self-funding just isn’t enough 99% of the time’, the said.

Step 7: Grab a safe democratic seat (but get ready for an almighty battle)

Prof Phelps believes that Meghan might consider an elected role at a county or city level ‘beneath her’. 

With a safe seat in the House of Representatives or perhaps the Senate the likeliest route to Washington before a tilt at the presidency could be possible.

It has been long reported that confirmed Meghan, with Harry, has been ‘networking among senior Democrats’ with a view to building a grass roots campaign.

Last year Meghan was touted as a candidate to fill Californian Senator Dianne Feinstein’s safe seat after she died aged 90.

Rumours were abound that she and Prince Harry reportedly held a virtual hour-long meeting with the state’s liberal Governor Gavin Newsom – but he picked another candidate.

Prof Phelps said: ‘There are plenty of safe seats for Democrats in California – but getting the nomination itself can be hard.

‘Rivals, many who have dedicated their lives to the party, are not going to say: “Oh well it’s Meghan Markle so I will stand aside”.’

A senior political source said it will be hard for Meghan. But if she gets through then the sky is the limit.

But they warned that there is a dim view of her in Joe Biden’s party because she ‘hasn’t done anything’ and isn’t willing to ‘graft’.

‘I just don’t see a path to jumping the queue.  I see it all the time – they don’t want to run for city council, and then move up the political ladder. They think they can go straight in at the top. It works about 1 per cent of the time’, they said.

The source added: ‘She’ll get killed [off] by savvy politicos who’ve done the hard yards’.

Step 8: Secure endorsement by party grandee (but the Obamas may not be keen)

Meghan and her team would also need to grab a big-name endorsement that could secure her a safe senate seat and catapult her towards Washington.

The Obamas have been viewed as the ideal people to do it – but despite Barack supporting Harry and Invictus – their relationship appears to have cooled. 

In 2021 it was reported that Meghan Markle ‘desperately wanted’ to attend Barack Obama’s 60th birthday party but was not included on the guest list.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex did not attend the lavish do thrown by the former US president at his seven-bedroom £8million holiday home in Martha’s Vineyard. 

Barack Obama and Meghan Markle (briefly) meet in London

Barack Obama and Meghan Markle (briefly) meet in London

Prince Harry watches the Wheelchair Basketball finals with Barack Obama at the Invictus Games 2017 in Canada

Prince Harry watches the Wheelchair Basketball finals with Barack Obama at the Invictus Games 2017 in Canada 

John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, Meghan’s friend CBS This Morning host Gayle King, George Clooney and Jay-Z and Beyoncé all did.

But according to royal expert and author Angela Levin, who wrote Harry: Biography of a Prince, it is thought that Barack and Michelle never included Harry and Meghan on the 475 strong guest-list.

If the Obamas didn’t back the bid – another possibility could be grandee Nancy Pelosi.

Meghan wrote an open letter to Pelosi and then Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to argue for fairer paid parental leave.

‘At an alarming rate, millions of women dropped out of the workforce, staying home with their kids as schools and daycares were closed, and looking after loved ones full-time. The working mom or parent is facing the conflict of being present or being paid. The sacrifice of either comes at a great cost’, Meghan wrote.

But it emerged in 2022 that members of Pelosi’s office ‘laughed’ at the suggestion Meghan could make it in politics.  

Step 9: Harry MUST become an American citizen if Meghan wants to be President

The Duke of Sussex said to ABC in Whistler recently he has 'considered' becoming a US citizen, and said he is 'loving every single day' of his life in California with Meghan Markle. Experts believe he must do it if she is to enter politics

The Duke of Sussex said to ABC in Whistler recently he has ‘considered’ becoming a US citizen, and said he is ‘loving every single day’ of his life in California with Meghan Markle. Experts believe he must do it if she is to enter politics

Melania Trump, born in Slovenia, became a naturalised American citizen.

Melania Trump, born in Slovenia, became a naturalised American citizen.

If Meghan were to defy the odds, Harry would have to become an American citizen if his wife was serious about making it to the White House.

Professor Christopher Phelps said Meghan would have no credibility if he didn’t give up his British citizenship.

‘It would be a great story. The British prince who loved her so much he gave up his British citizenship to become an American. There would be no requirement for him to do it – but he would have to if she wanted to have any credibility’, he said.

Melania Trump was born outside the US – only the second First Lady in this position after Louisa Adams, the British-born wife of John Quincy Adams, America’s sixth president between 1825 and 1829.

Melania, born in Slovenia, became a naturalised American citizen.

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