Meghan uses Ellen DeGeneres interview to call for paid family leave in US

Duchess of Sussex renews call to ‘put families above politics’ as Congress considers Biden bill

The Duchess of Sussex has renewed her call for the US to implement paid family leave, in an interview with the chatshow host Ellen DeGeneres.

Appearing on NBC’s The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Thursday afternoon, Meghan stressed the importance of paid leave, which is included in Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill but is opposed by Republicans and at least one key Democratic senator.

“I think that people truly forget, or don’t even know, that in this country, it’s one of the only six countries in the entire world and the only wealthy nation in the entire world that does not mandate and have a federal paid leave programme,” Meghan said.

“Everybody knows, especially if you have had a child and even if you haven’t, you know how hard it is and how critical it is in those first few weeks, if not months, to be together as a family.

“And the fact that we don’t offer that here is something that now, as a mom of two, I will do everything that I can to make sure that we can implement that for people.”

Meghan wrote an open letter to the top congressional Democrats Chuck Schumer, the majority leader of the Senate, and Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, in October, advocating for legislation mandating paid leave.

“This isn’t about right or left, it’s about right or wrong. This is about putting families above politics,” Meghan wrote of her new cause.

Meghan’s appearance on the TV show had been kept secret until Wednesday, when DeGeneres posted a trailer for the interview on Twitter.

The pair also discussed how Meghan and her husband, Britain’s Prince Harry, had secretly visited a Halloween party in 2016, just before their relationship was made public.

And Meghan revealed that Harry, whom she sometimes refers to as “H”, is enjoying California.

“The lifestyle, the weather’s pretty great. We’re just happy,” Meghan, who was born in Los Angeles, said.

Meghan and Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year created headlines around the world.

Ellen DeGeneres, right, appears with Meghan, left, in the Thursday broadcast.
Ellen DeGeneres, right, appears with Meghan in the Thursday broadcast. Photograph: Michael Rozman/AP

In that interview, Meghan said she had experienced racism from a member of the royal family, and said she had experienced suicidal thoughts as a result of the environment created by the British tabloid media, and the institution of the monarchy.

The conversation with DeGeneres on Thursday stayed mostly light, however, with the Duchess and the chatshow host discussing their plans for the Thanksgiving celebration next week. Meghan planned to cook for the event, she said.

This is the final season of DeGeneres’s long-running show, which was plunged into crisis last year, after allegations of behind-the-scenes sexual harassment and racist behavior on the show.

BuzzFeed News reported that it had spoken with 36 former employees, many of whom corroborated incidents of sexual misconduct, harassment and assault. The outlet reported that allegations included sexual misconduct between executives and lower-level employees, including requests for sex.

DeGeneres apologised and said she had “not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I’d want them done”.

The show may have appeared an odd platform for the Duchess to choose, but she, Harry and DeGeneres have been friends for some years and DeGeneres has previously defended the couple against unforgiving media scrutiny.

Meghan and Harry broke away from the British royal family early last year and later moved to LA.

DeGeneres has previously described them as “the cutest couple, so down to earth” and said: “I see them get attacked and it’s not fair.”


Adam Gabbatt in New York

The GuardianTramp

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