Meghan Markle’s activist streak to be held in check by royal protocol | UK news

Meghan Markle has previously used her celebrity to back Hillary Clinton, lament Brexit and attack Donald Trump as “misogynistic” and “divisive”. But such strident opinions will be muted by palace protocol that aims to prevent royals from publicly expressing views on political figures and parties.

The American actor will marry Prince Harry next May and embarks on her first royal engagement alongside her fiance in Nottingham on Friday. But she will be expected to channel her campaigning zeal into supporting the voluntary sector.

A seasoned royal observer predicted the restrictions on her free expression could present “an existential problem” for such an engaged and politically vocal woman.

“You have to go back to Prince Philip to think of a recruit to the family who is so evidently feisty and spiky,” said Robert Lacey, a historian and biographer of the Queen. “I can see that this is going to be a real problem in the months and years ahead for her, an existential problem. I don’t imagine the Queen will be in a rush to have Meghan at Balmoral when Trump visits.”

Before her engagement to the fifth in line to the throne, Markle, 36, described how she grew up “with a social consciousness to do what I could and speak up when I knew something was wrong”.

The Los Angeles-born actor worked as an ambassador for UN Women and the charity World Vision. But now, commenting on UK or international politics will be out of bounds.

Any hopes that the first American in the senior royal ranks since Wallis Simpson might be able to act as a bridge to the White House look to have already been dashed. Prior to the 2016 US presidential election, Markle advocated voting for Clinton “not because she’s a woman, but because Trump has made it easy to see that you don’t really want that kind of world that he’s painting”.

Royals are expected to understand that party politics and individual politicians are off-limits for public comment. The monarchy’s website states: “As head of state, the Queen has to remain strictly neutral with respect to political matters.”

Palace aides pointed out that by convention, other members of the family have followed suit. It is a line that critics believe her soon-to-be father-in-law Prince Charles has sometimes crossed, into political “meddling”.

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Encouraging “societal change” through initiatives such as the Heads Together mental health campaign run by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Harry is preferable. Markle is thought to be likely to want to continue campaigning on issues for women and girls.

So far, she appears to have accepted the change of approach, for example stopping using her social media accounts on which she expressed some of her political views a year ago when her relationship with the prince became public. On Instagram, she had recommended Who Rules the World, the latest book by the leftwing radical Noam Chomsky, a polemical “plea to end American hypocrisy and to introduce a more consistently principled dimension to American relations with the world”, according to the New York Review of Books.

Shortly after the Brexit vote, she used the same platform to post an image of a placard at an anti-Bexit campaign which read: “If EU leave me now, you take away the biggest part of me.”

Dickie Arbiter, a former press secretary to Prince Charles, said: “It’s a bit like going in the goldfish bowl. Everything changes. What she was able to say before she came into ‘the firm’ is very different to what she is going to be able to say now. It all changes.

“Now she has come into the royal family, she will have to be politically neutral. Harry has probably made that perfectly clear. He knows she has been outspoken, but all that has to stop. She is going to have to adapt. I am sure she is on the road already.”