Senators from both parties received a surprising phone call from the Duchess of Sussex.
Meghan Markle has been personally reaching out to members of Congress to campaign for paid family leave, Politico reported on Wednesday. The news came weeks after the 40-year-old wrote an open letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., published by Paid Leave for All.
“I’m in my car. I’m driving. It says caller ID blocked,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., told the outlet. “Honestly … I thought it was Sen. Manchin. His calls come in blocked. And she goes, ‘Sen. Capito?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ She said, ‘This is Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.'”
“I couldn’t figure out how she got my number,” the 67-year-old added.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, supported Capito’s claim.
“I was happy to talk with her,” said the 68-year-old. “But I’m more interested in what the people of Maine are telling me about it. Much to my surprise, she called me on my private line, and she introduced herself as the Duchess of Sussex, which is kind of ironic.”
According to the outlet, it was Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who gave the phone numbers to the former American actress. The 54-year-old has pushed her party to include paid leave in its social spending bill.
“I talked to each of the women senators and let them know that she’s going to reach out because she only completed two of the calls,” said Gillibrand. “She’s going to call some others, so I let them know in advance.”
“She wants to be part of a working group to work on paid leave long-term, and she’s going to be,” Gillibrand continued. “Whether this comes to fruition now or later, she’ll be part of a group of women that hopefully will work on paid leave together.”
A spokesperson for Markle didn’t immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
In her initial open letter, Markle argued for national paid leave. The duchess is a mother to 2-year-old Archie and 5-month-old Lili.
“I’m not an elected official, and I’m not a politician,” she wrote. “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.”
“Over the past 20 months, the pandemic has exposed long-existing fault lines in our communities,” Markle shared. “At an alarming rate, millions of women dropped out of the workforce, staying home with their kids as schools and daycares were closed, and looking after loved ones full-time. The working mom or parent is facing the conflict of being present or being paid. The sacrifice of either comes at a great cost.”
“For many, this sacrifice goes back further than the past 20 months; it’s 20 or 30 years, even longer — decades of giving time, body, and endless energy not just in the pursuit of the American dream, but simply the dream of stability.”
Markle and her husband, Britain’s Prince Harry, reportedly took 20 weeks of parental leave, which is in line with the policies of their Archewell Foundation.
“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),” the former “Suits” star wrote. “In taking care of your child, you take care of your community, and you take care of your country — because when paid leave is a right, we’re creating a foundation that helps address mental health outcomes, health care costs, and economic strength at the starting line.”
“Instead, as it stands now, we spend a fortune as a country paying into symptoms rather than causes,” she continued. “I understand that with everything going on these days, people might find it easy to be apathetic about what’s happening in Washington, D.C. And then equally, when it feels like your voice doesn’t matter, you tend to use it less often, but with stakes this high none of us can afford to let apathy win.”
Markle became the Duchess of Sussex when she married Harry, 37, in May 2018 at Windsor Castle. The couple’s departures from royal duties began in 2020 over what they described as the British media’s intrusions and racist attitudes towards the duchess. The family now resides in the coastal city of Montecito, California.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.