Meghan Markle‘s claims she lived on $5 Sizzler salad as a child and her family was poor is a world away from the $14million LA mansion she lives in with Prince Harry and their two children having built up a $100million-plus fortune over the past two years.
Her extraordinary 1,030-word letter asks the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and the Majority Leader in the US Senate Chuck Schumer, both Democrats, to consider her plea for paid leave for parents ‘on behalf of my family, Archie and Lili and Harry’.
And critics have also questioned one of the most astonishing parts of her letter, that she suggests her family were impoverished but fails to mention her father was an Emmy award-winning lighting director and she was educated at private school from kindergarten including the $16,000-a-year private Immaculate Heart High School – all paid for by Thomas Markle’s salary and his state lottery win.
Many of Meghan’s supporters have backed her calls for universal paid leaves for parents, but pointed out that her letter fails to mention Joe Biden, who is about to try to force it into law as part of his $3.5million Build Back Better Agenda.
Meghan’s very public statement is likely to ruffle feathers and add fuel to speculation that she has political ambitions despite her insistence it was sent as an American ‘mom’. Many have said this is yet another step into the US political arena for the Duchess of Sussex after the furore she and Harry caused by urging Americans to vote in the last presidential election – angering Republicans including Donald Trump.
Royal commentator and former editor of International Who’s Who, Richard Fitzwilliams, told MailOnline: ‘Using the example of the $5 salad bar and how she had to struggle in the past is an attempt to link with the way so many families struggle to pay their bills.
‘Aspiring politicians use these sort of examples and it remains to be seen, since she was privately educated and her father was one of Hollywood’s top lighting directors, whether the audience she seeks are impressed by her account of how she had to struggle. She and her father are estranged as she is at the moment from the royal family. The issue she highlights is undoubtedly an important one, but many will sense a ruthless streak in her behaviour which needs moderating if she were ever to seek election’.
Meghan and Harry holding their son Archie, who his mother added as a cosignatory of her letter to US politicians
The $16,000-a-year private Immaculate Heart High School, in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles where Meghan Markle attended as a teenager paid for by her father
The letter was written and sent on headed paper from the couple’s $14million home in Montecito, California
Private schoolgirl Meghan’s claims about how she ‘grew up on the $4.99 salad bar at Sizzler’, selling frozen yoghurt from 13 and struggling to ‘make ends meet’
The Duchess of Sussex says she ate cheap salads and worked selling frozen yoghurt as a 13-year-old – but all the while she was being educated in exclusive LA schools, including one whose alumni included Elizabeth Taylor and July Garland, all paid for by her now estranged father Thomas.
Meghan claims in her letter the Covid pandemic has exposed ‘long-existing fault lines in our communities’ and says ‘millions of women’ have been forced to drop out of the workforce to look after their children as a result of schools and childcare providers being closed.
And in one of the most astonishing parts of her letter, she suggests her family were impoverished but does not mention her father was an Emmy award-winning lighting director and she was educated at private school.
She says: ‘I grew up on the $4.99 salad bar at Sizzler – it may have cost less back then (to be honest, I can’t remember) – but what I do remember was the feeling: I knew how hard my parents worked to afford this because even at five bucks, eating out was something special, and I felt lucky.
‘And as a Girl Scout, when my troop would go to dinner for a big celebration, it was back to that same salad bar or The Old Spaghetti Factory – because that’s what those families could afford.
‘I waited tables, babysat, and piecemealed jobs together to cover odds and ends,’ Meghan writes. ‘I worked all my life and saved when and where I could – but even that was a luxury – because usually it was about making ends meet and having enough to pay my rent and put gas in my car.’
But critics have also pointed out that Meghan was raised in middle class comfort in the suburb of Woodland Hills in a home Thomas Markle, an Emmy-award winning lighting director, bought shortly before Meghan was born in 1981.
Meghan Markle lived this home in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles with both her parents and half-siblings Thomas Jr and Samantha until 1983, for the first two years of her life before her parents divorced
After living with her mum Doria, Meghan would later move back in with her father in the 1990s, as Thomas put her through private school. She stayed at the Hollywood property until she left for college in 1999
After her parents Thomas and Doria divorced when Meghan was six, they remained amicable and whatever the state of their shattered relationship now, Meghan has enjoyed a close bond with her father in the past and owed much to the money he earned in Hollywood to her world class education.
He sent her to Hollywood’s private Little Red Schoolhouse, whose old students include Elizabeth Taylor and Judy Garland, where staff feed students six different types of organic vegetables from the school garden each week.
When Meghan was nine he won $750,000 in a lottery and the money helped send Meghan to the $16,000-a-year Immaculate Heart Catholic School, one of LA’s finest.
Every day after school she would visit her father on the set of Married… with Children where he worked as a lighting director and was believed to earn $200,000-a-year.
Meghan’s half-brother Thomas Jr said previously: ‘Dad rang me one day and told me to come over. There was a lump on his bed under a blanket. I pulled it back and saw stacks of money there. My first reaction was, ‘What did you do?’ He started laughing and said, ‘I won the lottery!’.
In her late teens Meghan went to Northwestern University, where she studied drama. ‘Meg won scholarships to other universities but she wanted to go to Northwestern so she did,’ her brother Thomas Jr said previously, adding: ‘The money helped.’
The Duchess went on to detail her humble beginnings: ‘I grew up on the 4.99-dollar salad bar at Sizzler,’ she said
While trying to pay bills while auditioning for acting roles, she became a freelance calligrapher, doing correspondence for Dolce & Gabbana and wedding invitations for clients such as singer Robin Thicke. She also worked at the US Embassy in Argentina and was a ‘briefcase girl’ – one of the models who hold the suitcases full of cash – on the US version of Deal or No Deal.
It was only when she secured her acting role as Rachel Zane on Suits, that her career went global, earning around $60,000 per episode and making her a millionaire. It also set her on a path to meeting Prince Harry, who she started secretly dating while living in Toronto and living on the show.
After their lavish royal wedding and having their first child, Archie, the couple quit as frontline royals and emigrated before having baby Lilibet. They have signed $100million of deals with Netflix and Spotify. Experts have predicted they are on the way to building a $1billion brand in the US.
Thomas Markle this week suggested the Sussexes were only worried about cash. He said: ‘Well, money isn’t everything, but the book he’s writing should be not Finding Freedom – it should be Finding Money, that’s all they seem to care about right now.’
Finding Freedom is the biography of Harry and Meghan by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand released in August 2020. It was then announced this July that Harry will be writing a new book which explores his ‘adventures, losses, and life lessons’.
‘Harry’s coming out with a book and that can’t be anything but cruel and to insult his grandmother the Queen, it’s a ridiculous idea. And it’s just something for money, that’s all they’re doing – everything they’re doing is for money. But to do that to your grandmother and the Queen, who is 95 years old, is shameful.’
‘I’m a mom, not a politician’, says Meghan, after yet another political intervention in the US by the Sussexes
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle spoke out about the upcoming U.S. election, in a stark break with British tradition that prohibits royal involvement in politics. Senior sources suggest that in doing so, the couple broke their agreement with The Queen
Meghan insists that the letter was as an American and ‘mom’, not a politician. She writes: ‘I’m not an elected official, and I’m not a politician. I am, like many, an engaged citizen and a parent.
She says: ‘And because you and your congressional colleagues have a role in shaping family outcomes for generations to come, that’s why I’m writing to you at this deeply important time – as a mom – to advocate for paid leave.’
But experts have long predicted she will pursue a career in politics after a series of interventions this year.
This year Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s were accused of ‘violating’ the terms of the ‘Megxit’ deal the couple have with the Queen after repeatedly urging Americans to vote, an unprecedented situation for royals.
Their comments were said to have further bruised relations with Harry’s family, with sources claiming that senior courtiers are discussing how to further distance London royals from the couple.
In their message, Harry and Meghan called on American voters to ‘reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity’ in ‘the most important election of our life’.
Meghan said days later: ‘We’re six weeks out from the election, and today is Voter Registration Day. Every four years, we’re told the same thing, ‘This is the most important election of our lifetime. But this one is. When we vote, our values are put into action, and our voices are heard.’
Their words made waves on both sides of the Atlantic and were seen as anti-Donald Trump, including by the president himself, as people believed they were trying to mobilise postal voters, one of the key groups that swept Mr Trump out of power.
Buckingham Palace was forced to distance itself from Harry’s remarks by saying that ‘the Duke is not a working member of the royal family’ and describing his comments as ‘made in a personal capacity’.
Harry and Meghan made their comments in a Time 100 video to go with the publication of this year’s list of the most influential people, which does not include the royal couple.
‘As we approach this November, it’s vital that we reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity,’ said Harry – in a line some observers in Britain and the U.S. immediately took to be a plug for Biden and a slap at President Trump.
Republican Congressman Jason Smith of Missouri sent a letter demanding the Queen strips them of their titles in a request to British Ambassador to the United States, Karen Pierce. Smith pointed out that the British Royal family has a long tradition of staying politically neutral and notes the United States has expressed concern about foreign interference in its elections.
Combined with writing today’s letter and mentioning her own upbringing at length, experts said Meghan also adopted ‘tactics of an aspiring politician’ to lobby Washington politicians.
A source close to the Palace has said Meghan’s intervention is unlikely to cause waves in the UK, as she is unlikely to return to royal duties. ‘She’s an American citizen, highly political and it’s not the first time she’s lobbied using her title. The Palace won’t be shocked at all’, the expert said.
‘Hands on parents’ Harry and Meghan took ‘some proper time off’ together after the birth of Lilibet after getting through THREE nannies for baby Archie
Meghan Markle, pictured above with Prince Harry and her first born Archie, made a rare political statement on Wednesday
Meghan Markle said she was writing the letter to House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Charles Schumer ‘as a mom’ and ‘on behalf of millions of American families’
Harry and Meghan have been campaigning for better maternity and paternity rights for parents and chose to take ‘some proper time off’ together after the birth of Lilibet over the summer.
For the Duke of Sussex, 37, who is currently living in his $14 million mansion in California, this meant taking time out from his first job in the corporate world where he recently took an executive position at a Silicon Valley start-up that claims to be worth $1.7billion.
The royal is ‘chief impact officer’ at mental health services business BetterUp, where he helps promote an app used by corporate giants including Hilton, Facebook and oil firm Chevron to improve the wellbeing of their staff.
Harry is said to be loving his life as a father of two and feels happy to have relocated to America with his family. They are known to have had three nannies, but no longer have a permanent one after a series of problems.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were ‘forced to let go’ of Archie’s night nurse during her second shift with the couple ‘for being unprofessional’, their bombshell biography Finding Freedom claims.
The book claims the Duke, 37, and Duchess of Sussex, 40, wanted to hire a night nurse to establish a sleep schedule and be an extra pair of helping hands’ after the birth of their son Archie, one. However, the nanny’s time with the family was ‘brief’, with the authors writing: ‘Meghan and Harry felt they were forced to let the nurse go in the middle of her second night of work for being unprofessional.’
And, after their experience with the first nanny, the couple were wary, with the authors writing: ‘The new parents went on to hire a second night nurse, who did a fine job, but because of the incident with the first nurse, neither found themselves comfortable sleeping through the night without going to check on Archie regularly.
‘After a few weeks, they decided to take on nights themselves and went without a night nurse entirely.’
The couple rely on Meghan’s mother Doria and friends for childcare help, but also reportedly get help from outside from time to time.
‘The Sussexes do have nannies to call on when their schedules get crazed, but they’re still extremely hands-on and try to keep the hired help to a minimum for the most part,’ an insider told US Weekly this month.
‘It’s been easier for them with Lili in many ways, even though it’s twice the work, technically, because they’ve been able to use a lot of the techniques they learned with Archie and take care of things like feeding or bathing without too much fuss’.
Meghan’s letter fails to mention Joe Biden’s paid leave for parents plan is at the heart of his Build Back Better Agenda (and about to be fast tracked through the Senate)
US President Joe Biden block the sun with his hand as he boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base yesterday to Scranton, Pennsylvania to promote his Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and Build Back Better Agenda, which has paid leave for parents at its heart
Meghan’s campaigning for paid leave for parents is also the cornerstone of President Biden’s economic agenda that will cost between $2trillion and $3.5trillion.
She writes: ‘No family should be faced with these decisions. No family should have to choose between earning a living and having the freedom to take care of their child (or a loved one, or themselves, as we would see with a comprehensive paid leave plan).
‘I understand that with everything going on these days, people might find it easy to be apathetic about what’s happening in Washington DC… but with stakes this high none of us can afford to let apathy win.
‘So, on behalf of my family, Archie and Lili and Harry, I thank you for considering this letter, and on behalf of all families, I ask you to ensure this consequential moment is not lost.’
But there is no mention of Joe Biden in the letter – nor his administration’s decision to drive forward with the Build Back Better Agenda.
Royal expert Angela Levin claims that this because Meghan might want some of the glory for herself.
‘The truth is that the bill about parental leave is on its way to being confirmed, and could be hijack by Meghan’s belief it was largely due to her. In addition if she was writing a profession letter what on earth is she getting all cosy and intimate by stating the letter is also ‘on behalf of Archie and Lili – notice she is not calling her Lillibet, the Queen’s nickname – and Harry. Poor old Harry has come last’.
Meghan Markle’s 1030-word paid parental leave plea letter in full
Meghan Markle said she was writing the letter to House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Charles Schumer ‘as a mom’ and ‘on behalf of millions of American families’
Dear Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi,
I’m not an elected official, and I’m not a politician. I am, like many, an engaged citizen and a parent.
And because you and your congressional colleagues have a role in shaping family outcomes for generations to come, that’s how I’m writing to you at this deeply important time – as a mom – to advocate for paid parental leave.
Over the past 20 months, the pandemic has exposed long-existing fault lines in our communities. At an alarming rate, millions of women dropped out of the workforce, staying home with their kids as schools and day cares 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.
For many, this sacrifice goes back furhter than the past 20 months; it’s 20 or 30 years, even longer – decades of giving time, body and endless energy not just in pursuit of the American dream, but simply in the dream of stability.
I grew up on the $4.99 salad bar at Sizzler – it may have cost less back then (to be honest, I can’t remember) – but what I do remember was the feeling; I knew how hard my parents worked to afford this because even at five bucks, eating out was something special and I felt lucky. And as a Girl Scout, when my troop would go for dinner for a big celebration, it was back to that same salad bar or The Old Spaghetti Factory – because that’s what those families could afford to do too.
I started working (at the local frozen yogurt shop) at the age of 13. I waited tables, babysat, and piece-mealed jobs together to cover odds and ends. I worked all my life and saved when and where I could – but even that was a luxury – because usually it was about making ends meet and having enough to pay my rent and put gas in my car.
I expect many of your constituents have their own version of that story. Perhaps you do too. People in our country work incredibly hard, and yet the ask is soft; for a level playing field to achieve their version of a common dream – what is fair, and equal and right. Many of our economic systems are past their expiration date, and as you well know, too many Americans are forced to shortchange themselves when it comes to what matters to them.
In June, my husband and I welcomed our second child. Like any parents, we were overjoyed. Like many parents, we were overwhelmed. Like fewer parents, we weren’t confronted with the harsh reality of either spending those first few critical months with our baby or going back to work. We knew we could take her home, and in that vital (and sacred) stage, devote any and everything to our kids and to our family. We knew that by doing so, we wouldn’t have to make impossible choices about childcare, work, and medical care that so many have to make every single day.
No family should be faced with these decisions. No family should have to choose between earning a living and having the freedom to take care of their child (or a loved one, or themselves, as we would see with a comprehensive paid leave plan).
In taking care of your child, you take care of your community, and you take care of your country – because when paid leave is a right, we’re creating a foundation that helps address mental health outcomes, health care costs, and economic strength at the starting line. Instead, as it stands now, we spend a fortune as a country paying into symptoms rather than causes. I understand that with everything going on these days, people might find it easy to be apathetic about what’s happening in Washington D.C. And then equally, when it feels like your voice doesn’t matter, you tend to use it less often, but with stakes this high none of us can afford to let apathy win.
I’m writing to you on behalf millions of American families who are using their voices to say that comprehensive paid leave should not be a place to compromise or negotiate. In fact, most nations already have paid leave policies in place. Estonia, for example, offers over a year and a half of leave to be shared by new parents. Many other countries have robust programs that give months of time for both parents (birth or adoptive) to be at home with their child. The United States in stark contrast does not federally guarantee any person a single day of paid leave. And fewer than one in four workers has dedicated paid family leave through their employer. I’m sure you agree that if we are to continue to be exceptional, then we can’t be the exception.
The families you represent need your strong leadership. With paid leave on the cusp of becoming a national reality, I trust you will meet this moment. I know you must hear from your constituents about the choices they are facing every day to make ends meet and care for their families.
Paid leave should be a national right, rather than a patchwork option limited to those whose employers have policies in place, or those who live in one of the few states where a leave program exists. If we’re going to create a new era of family-first policies, let’s make sure that includes a strong paid leave program for every American that’s guaranteed, accessible, and encouraged without stigma or penalty.
I know how politically charged things can – and have – become. But this isn’t about right or left, it’s about right or wrong. This is about putting families above politics. And for a refreshing change, it’s something we all seem to agree on. At a point when everything feels so divisive, let this be a shared goal that unites us.
So, on behalf of my family, Archie and Lili and Harry, I thank you for considering this letter, and on behalf of all families, I ask you to ensure this consequential moment is not lost.
Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex