Meghan Markle set to join New York Times online summit

Meghan Markle will speak on ‘women reaching economic and professional parity’ at New York Times online summit – after sending controversial lobbyist letter pleading for paid family leave

  • Meghan Markle, 40, will speak at the New York Times Dealbook online summit 
  • Duchess will discuss solutions to reaching economic and professional parity 
  • Royal will be joined by Mellody Hobson, chairwoman of Starbucks Corporation
  • Described as ‘groundbreaking figure’ who will ‘reflect on how shared experiences have influenced thinking about creating opportunities for others’
  • Comes after Meghan bought Starbucks coffee for employees working overtime to campaign for paid family and medical leave in the US

Meghan Markle is set to appear at an online conference organised by the New York Times to discuss ‘women reaching economic and professional parity.’

The Duchess of Sussex, 40, who is currently living in her $14 million mansion in California having stepped back from royal duty, has been announced as a speaker at the NYTDealbook Online Summit next Tuesday.

The mother-of-two will appear in a half-hour session called ‘Minding the Gap’ alongside Mellody Hobson, Co-C.E.O. and President, Ariel Investments and the chairwoman of Starbucks Corporation.

Online the session is described as: ‘How can women reach economic and professional parity? Two groundbreaking figures join us to discuss top-down solutions, and reflect on how their shared experiences influenced their thinking about creating opportunities for others.’

It comes days after Meghan Markle bought Starbucks coffee for employees working overtime to campaign for paid family and medical leave in the US after writing to politicians pleading for it to be made a ‘national right’.  

At the time she was accused of using her British royal title to meddle at the top of US politics and adopting the ‘ruthless streak’ and ‘tactics of an aspiring politician’ to lobby two senior Washington figures on Joe Biden’s proposed parental and sick leave legislation. 

Meghan Markle, 40, is set to appear at an online conference organised by the New York Times to discuss ‘women reaching economic and professional parity’

The Duchess of Sussex, 40, who is currently living in her $14 million mansion in California having stepped back from royal duty, has been announced as a speaker at the NYTDealbook Online Summit next Tuesday

Other speakers at the conference include Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, as well as the CEO for Pfizer Albert Bourla.

Meanwhile the line-up also sees a host of other stars speaking including Matthew Mcconaughey and Dax Shepherd, with whom Prince Harry gave an explosive interview for his Armchair Expert podcast.  

Days ago, the Duchess gifted workers at PL+US, a group running a national campaign to win paid family and medical leave by 2022, a $25 Starbucks voucher through her non-profit Archewell. 

Earlier this month, Meghan penned an impassioned plea to senior congress members on proposed parental and sick leave legislation, writing not as a ‘politician’, but an ‘engaged citizen and a parent….and as a mom’. 

Neil Sroka, the director of communications for the group, took to Twitter to write: ‘The Duchess of Sussex (aka #MeghanMarkle) bought everyone at @PaidLeaveUS a few cups of coffee while we’re working overtime to #SavePaidLeave. 

‘Unbelievably classy… and necessary. Truly honored to know she has our backs in the fight to win’. 

The mother-of-two will appear in a half-hour session called ‘Minding the Gap’ alongside Mellody Hobson, Co-C.E.O. and President, Ariel Investments and the chairwoman of Starbucks Corporation

Days ago it was revealed the Duchess of Sussex gifted workers at PL+US, a group running a national campaign to win paid family and medical leave by 2022, a $25 Starbucks voucher through her non-profit Archewell

The gesture had a mixed reaction online, with some saying small kindnesses can make a ‘huge difference’, while others called the donation ‘pitiful’ and suggested the act could be a publicity stunt.   

The 1,030-word letter asked 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 ‘on behalf of my family, Archie and Lili and Harry’.

Meghan Markle’s co-chair Mellody Hobson 

Hobson heads the investment management firm Ariel Investments and is also chairman of the board at Dream Works Animation SKG Inc

Hobson heads the investment management firm Ariel Investments and is also chairman of the board at Dream Works Animation SKG Inc.

She has been in a relationship with George Lucas since meeting at a business conference back in 2006. 

In 2014, the pair exchanged vows at the billionaire’s Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, California, in front of 200 guests including Meghan’s friend Oprah Winfrey, Robert De Niro, Glenn Close, Harrison Ford, Calista Flockhart, Quincy Jones and his daughter Rashida. 

And it’s not Mellody’s first encounter with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. 

In 2017 she interviewed Prince Harry for the Obama Foundation Summit. 

It was written on the Sussexes new post-royal letterhead, which prominently uses their titles but not their official cyphers. 

The letter pertains to historic legislation moving through Congress, which would make 12 weeks of paid family and sick leave available to most workers as part of new federal policy.

The US is among a handful of nations that do not guarantee paid sick leave or maternity or paternity pay.   

She wrote: ‘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 why I’m writing to you at this deeply important time – as a mom – to advocate for paid leave.’

Meghan says 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.  

The former Suits actress, who signed off as ‘Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex’, concluded the letter, by writing: ‘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.’ 

The duchess concedes that she and Harry are lucky enough not have had to make ‘impossible’ choices about their work and their family.

‘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),’ she says.

Neil Sroka, the director of communications for the group, took to Twitter to write: ‘The Duchess of Sussex (aka #MeghanMarkle) bought everyone at @PaidLeaveUS a few cups of coffee while we’re working overtime to #SavePaidLeave’ 

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’

‘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.’

A spokesman for Meghan said she ‘cares deeply about advocating for families in the US and around the world’ and had partnered with three campaign organisations on the issue. 

However royals experts have also questioned whether Americans will be impressed ‘by her account of how she had to struggle’ on $4.99 salads from Sizzler when her estranged father Thomas put her through private school from kindergarten and she now lives in a $14million LA mansion while sitting on a $100million fortune.

The Duchess of Sussex’s letter was sent, she claims, as an ‘engaged citizen and a parent and as a mom’ – but is being viewed as her most overtly political intervention in US life yet after speculation she has dreams of being a Democrat politician or even to run for US President.

Angela Levin, journalist and biographer of Prince Harry, told MailOnline that while the duchess is an American citizen, the letter from ‘the office of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’ signed ‘on behalf of my family, Archie and Lili and Harry’, amounts to using her British title and marriage to the sixth in line to the throne to interfere in US politics.

She said: ‘Meghan’s two page letter to lobby Congress about giving money on parental leave, is obviously another step towards trying to turn herself into a politician. But the notepaper she is using is astonishingly “From the Office of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex” and shows how she isn’t even aware that she is talking to politicians in a republic that won its independence from the crown in 1776.

‘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’.

Last week Meghan, who gave birth to her daughter Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor on June 4 this year, appeared on YouTube account Brightly Storytime to read her children’s book The Bench.

The Duchess of Sussex explained how she wrote the book as a poem for her husband Harry and their son  Archie

Sitting on a chair in her garden at her $14.65million Montecito mansion she shares with Prince Harry and their two children Archie, two, and Lilibet, Meghan said: ‘Today I’m going to be read to you my book called The Bench with illustrator Christian Robinson.

‘I asked him to do something special for me and use watercolours, which isn’t the normal medium he works in but he did it to make it extra special.

‘I wrote this as a poem for my husband and our son Archie, and then turned it into a book so you could enjoy it too.’ 

Meghan has claimed her children’s book The Bench shows ‘another side of masculinity’ in a message to thank readers after it became a New York Times bestseller. 

In a statement announcing her book in May 2021, the duchess said she wanted the story, which was published on June 8 by Random House, to be told through an ‘inclusive lens’ and feature a ‘diverse group of father and sons’.  

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