Meghan Markle has abandoned the royal family's ban on speaking about politics since stepping back in January.
Royal experts told Insider that while the duchess would have been able to vote in the US election if she hadn't resigned, she would have likely been forbidden from speaking about it publicly.
"The palace would not under any circumstances have allowed her to take a public stance on the US elections," royal author Nigel Cawthorne told Insider.
A source close to Markle told Insider that she chose to speak on the subject to encourage women specifically to make sure "their voice is heard by casting their ballot."
One unexpected development from Meghan Markle's post-royal life has been her involvement in US politics.
The Duchess of Sussex made history by voting in the US election, something royals don't typically participate in as they are supposed to remain politically neutral.
Markle and Prince Harry encouraged Americans to vote on numerous occasions, and political activism is something they will continue to prioritize, a spokesperson for the couple previously told Insider.
"Part of being an active member of society is to take part in the democratic process," the spokesperson told Insider earlier in November. "So encouraging people to get involved in politics is something that is important."
The spokesperson added that the coupe will continue to speak about politics after the election.
A source close to the duchess told Insider that she decided to speak about politics to encourage women specifically to make sure "their voice is heard by casting their ballot."
However, the duchess likely wouldn't have spoken about the election if she had remained a senior working member of the royal family, according to royal experts.
Buckingham Palace wouldn't have allowed Markle to discuss politics 'under any circumstances'
Before she stepped back from royal duties in January, Markle's role was to represent the monarchy — meaning she would have had to refrain from sharing her political opinions at all costs.
Prince Harry recently said he has never voted in an election in his "entire life," likely because of the family's dedication to remaining neutral.
Royal experts believe that Markle would have been able to vote in the US election even if she had never resigned. However, she wouldn't have been allowed to speak about it publicly.
"If Meghan and Harry hadn't stepped back from the royal family, it would have been very tough for her," Nigel Cawthorne, author of "Prince Andrew: Epstein, Maxwell and the Palace," told Insider. "The palace would not under any circumstances have allowed her to take a public stance on the US elections, given the hyper-sensitive role of the Queen as Britain's head of state and Britain's special relationship with the US."
Cawthorne added that Markle would have had to consult the palace "about anything that deviates from the ceremonial roles they have been given."
"This time of year would have been extremely difficult for Meghan and she would have had to bite her tongue on many occasions," he added.
Markle's comment about the US election being "the most important election of our lifetime" was criticized by the British tabloids, and spurred President Trump to say that he is "not a fan of hers" back in September.
"And I would say this — and she probably has heard that — but I wish a lot of luck to Harry, because he's going to need it," the president said at the time.
Royal historian Marlene Koenig told Insider that Markle likely wouldn't have had "such a public conversation on voting in the US" had she remained a working royal, however there was nothing from stopping the duchess from casting her ballot.
"The neutrality that the British sovereign and the HRHs have in the UK is for the British government. Voting in the US election does not violate that neutrality," Koenig said.
The duchess knows what it's like to feel voiceless
A source close to the duchess told Insider that Markle's priority is to encourage women to "make sure their voice is heard."
"The duchess believes that it is important to take part in the democratic process, that includes promoting civic engagement and voting in elections. That's what inspired her to encourage others, especially women, to make sure their voice is heard by casting their ballot," the source said.
The comments are reminiscent of Markle's announcement that she would vote in the election. In the statement, she said she knows "what it's like to feel voiceless"— a possible reference to her time as a working royal, when she didn't openly discuss politics.
While her voice is finally being heard in a way that wouldn't have been possible before, there is still an aspect of caution that must be adhered to.
A source close to Harry and Markle previously told Insider that they didn't endorse a political candidate because they are aware of "a line" that could be crossed as members of the royal family.
"It would be a change in the way the family has always operated," the source said.
While Harry hasn't publicly showed support for president-elect Joe Biden, he appears to have a good relationship with the former vice president and his wife Jill Biden. The couple have shown support for the duke's Invictus Games tournament through the years, and Joe even joked about Harry's friendship with Jill on several occasions.
It is unknown if the Duke of Sussex has plans to vote in the next UK election. Either way, royal expert Sydney Zatz believes Harry will keep his decision private.
"I think Harry will do the same as Meghan and continue to use his platform to be an activist. I think out of respect for his family, he will keep things hush but I do believe in his private life that he is going to have a more active role since he has stepped back," Zatz, a reporter at Royal Central, told Insider.
Buckingham Palace did not respond to Insider's request for comment.
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