Meghan Markle could be barred from US presidency by 211-year-old amendment to the Constitution


The Duchess of Sussex could be prevented from running for US President by a little-known constitutional amendment made 211 years ago.

A tweak was made to the constitution in 1810 to bar anyone who receives ‘a title of nobility bestowed from a foreign power’ from holding office, according to experts.

The centuries-old amendment was initially proposed to stop Napo­leon’s nephew from seeking power after his brother married American socialite Eliza­beth ‘Betsy’ Pat­ter­son amid speculation their son may run for office.

However, it could be revived to prevent any plans for the Duchess to launch a leadership bid, The Sunday Telegraph reports. 

While Meghan Markle has never spoken of a genuine intention to run for office, biographer Tom Bower has previously claimed the prospect of a presidency campaign was ‘possible and I’d even say likely’.

Meghan Markle pictured attending the UK Team Trials for the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 at the University of Bath. Biographer Tom Bower has previously claimed the prospect of a presidency campaign was 'possible and I'd even say likely'

Meghan Markle pictured attending the UK Team Trials for the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 at the University of Bath. Biographer Tom Bower has previously claimed the prospect of a presidency campaign was ‘possible and I’d even say likely’

Napoleon in his pomp in a painting by Jacques-Louis David. The amendment was initially proposed to prevent his nephew from running for office

Napoleon in his pomp in a painting by Jacques-Louis David. The amendment was initially proposed to prevent his nephew from running for office

The Duchess has also been politically active since marrying into the Royal Family, attempting to influence a $1.75 trillion infrastructure plan to include paid leave for new parents and penning an open lobbyist letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pleading for it to be made a ‘national right’.

It comes as Royal Family aides and critics have argued the Duchess is using her title inappropriately when it comes to political matters. 

US politicians say Meghan introduced herself as The Duchess of Sussex, leading to criticism she was using ‘tactics of an aspiring politician’ and adopting a ‘ruthless streak’ to try and influence Biden’s Build Back Better bill.

Her allies, though, say this is her legal name after changing it from Meghan Markle when she married Prince Harry in May 2018. 

Constitutional experts have said there is no technical reason why she could not run for presidency under her title, despite a lack of precedent.

Experts highlighted an amendment named the Titles of Nobil­ity Amend­ment, made in 1810, that was proposed and passed in Congress. 

It states any­one who ‘accepts, claims, receives or retains a title of nobil­ity bestowed by a for­eign power’ is prevented from holding federal office.

The amendment was sent out to individual state legislatures, three quarters of whom needed to vote in support for it to be passed as law.

The required number was 14, though, and the amendment was subsequently never passed.

It was never thrown out, either, and has remained on the table for the last 211 years. 

The move was made amid a period of nervousness in the US, which was then surrounded by superpowers with Canada being occupied by Britain, Florida by Spain and Louisiana by France.

Napoleon Bonaparte’s younger brother Jérôme then wed Ms Patterson, leading to murmurs their son could run for office and the US could be subsumed into the French empire.

President Joe Biden speaks at the White House on Friday. The Duchess tried to influence Biden's Build Back Better bill

President Joe Biden speaks at the White House on Friday. The Duchess tried to influence Biden’s Build Back Better bill

The White House is seen after US President Joe Biden's return on November 14 following a weekend at Camp David

The White House is seen after US President Joe Biden’s return on November 14 following a weekend at Camp David

Were the amendment to be revived, the 12 votes in favour are still likely to count.

That would be mean a further 26 states would be needed to vote in favour of approving the amendment for it to be passed into law.  

John Kowal, co-author of a his­tory of con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments in The People’s Con­sti­tu­tion, said: ‘I’m not aware of any pre­ced­ent, where someone who is pub­licly known and pub­licly uses a noble title from another coun­try has run for polit­ical office. I think it would be very con­tro­ver­sial.’  

‘Britain has a very strong tradition of keeping royals out of politics and so this is perhaps more intrusive than anything a royal would dare to do in Britain.

‘Meeting with senators to lobby for a bill – this is her injecting herself into US politics.’

The Duchess is currently eligible to run as a US-born citizen.    

Acid-penned Mr Bower, who reportedly agreed a six figure sum to tell the pregnant Duchess’s story earlier this year, said she is ‘likely’ to launch a US presidential campaign but would ‘struggle’ with the barrage of criticism levelled at politicians because she is ‘sensitive’. 



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