Appearing alongside her husband, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, during an ABC broadcast special unveiling of the 2020 TIME 100, TIME’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people, on Tuesday (National Voter Registration Day), Meghan Markle spoke about why it’s imperative for those who can vote in the U.S. to do so this election.
“Every four years we are told the same thing, that this is the most important election of our lifetime,” Markle said. “But this one is. When we vote, our values are put into action and our voices are heard. Your voice is a reminder that you matter, because you do and you deserve to be heard.”
Although it’s against protocol for members of the royal family to get involved in politics, since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped down from their roles as senior royals and moved to North America earlier this year, the couple have become increasingly vocal about civics and issues close to them like climate change. Markle in particular has worked to get out the vote in the past month. (The Queen has also encouraged U.K. citizens to vote in the past).
Over the summer, Markle cold called members of the U.S. electorate with Gloria Steinem and encouraged them to vote. “We sat at the dining room table where I am right now,” Steinem told Access Hollywood. “And cold-called voters and said ‘Hello, I’m Meg’ and ‘Hello, I’m Gloria’ and ‘Are you going to vote?’ That was her initiative.” Markle and Steinem had earlier in the day discussed the link between representation and voting for Makers.
Markle is now set to make history as the first British royal family member to publicly exercise their right to vote. In August, Markle shared a statement with Marie Claire about why she’s planning on voting in the 2020 election. “I know what it’s like to have a voice, and also what it’s like to feel voiceless,” she said. “I also know that so many men and women have put their lives on the line for us to be heard. And that opportunity, that fundamental right, is in our ability to exercise our right to vote and to make all of our voices heard.”
Before becoming a member of Britain’s royal family, Markle criticized Donald Trump’s presidential run during a 2016 appearance on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, calling the then-Republican nominee “misogynistic” and “divisive.”
Harry, who isn’t a U.S. citizen, noted that he won’t be able to vote this year and acknowledged that he has never voted in the U.K. as royals are typically expected to remain politically neutral. But he urged Americans to be mindful of the type of information they’re consuming both online and off.
“When the bad outweighs the good, for many, whether we realize it or not, it erodes our ability to have compassion and our ability to put ourself in someone else’s shoes. Because when one person buys into negativity online, the effects are felt exponentially. It’s time to not only reflect, but act,” he said. “As we approach this November, it’s vital that we reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity.”
The royal couple also recognized the importance of the work that many TIME 100 honorees are doing to create a better world. “Tonight reminds us of how important it is to watch out for each other, to care for each other and to inspire each other,” Harry said. “We are incredibly proud to join you in this historic moment in time.”
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