The Duke of Sussex has faced a backlash amid claims of political interference after he urged people in the US to “reject hate speech” and vote in the presidential elections.
Harry remains sixth in line to the throne despite stepping down as a senior working royal, and members of the royal family traditionally do not vote or become involved in elections or political matters.
The Queen, as a constitutional head of state, is politically neutral.
The monarch’s grandson said in a video for Time magazine as he sat on a bench alongside Meghan at their Californian home: “As we approach this November, it’s vital that we reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity.”
US President Donald Trump, who is campaigning for re-election, has often been criticised for using inflammatory language, and in August, Facebook deleted one of his posts for the first time for violating its policy against spreading misinformation about coronavirus.
Twitter began labelling Mr Trump’s tweets with fact checks in May.
Broadcaster Piers Morgan condemned Harry for his remarks, tweeting: “Prince Harry poking his woke nose into the US election & effectively telling Americans to vote against President Trump is completely unacceptable behaviour for a member of the Royal Family.”
Prince Harry poking his woke nose into the US election & effectively telling Americans to vote against President Trump is completely unacceptable behaviour for a member of the Royal Family.
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) September 23, 2020
A source close to Harry insisted the duke was not referring to Mr Trump nor any other individual.
“The duke was talking about the tone of debate in the run-up to an election which is already quite febrile,” they said.
“He is not talking about any candidate or specific campaign.
“He is building on a lot of stuff that he’s said before about online communities, how we engage with each other online, rather than specifically making any political points.”
Harry reminded Americans to be discerning in terms of the content they consume online.
The duke said: “When the bad outweighs the good, for many, whether we realise it or not, it erodes our ability to have compassion and our ability to put ourself in someone else’s shoes.
“Because when one person buys into negativity online, the effects are felt exponentially. It’s time to not only reflect, but act.”
The 36-year-old duke mentioned that he would not be voting in the election due to his lack of US citizenship, adding he had not voted in UK elections throughout his life.
Harry said: “This election, I’m not going to be able to vote here in the US. But many of you might not know that I haven’t been able to vote in the UK my entire life.”
The source declined to comment on whether Harry’s phrase “this election” suggested he would be applying for dual citizenship in the US in order to be able to vote in future elections.
“They are not working royals. They are private citizens and it’s understandable they want to keep those matters private,” the source said.
Although UK law does not ban royalty from voting, it is considered unconstitutional for them to do so.
Harry quit as a senior working royal with Meghan in March in a bid for personal and financial freedom and now lives in the US, but they are still members of the royal family.
The duchess, who mocked then-Republican candidate Mr Trump during a 2016 television appearance, said in the video the November poll was the “most important election of our lifetime”.
“When we vote, our values are put into action and our voices are heard. Your voice is a reminder that you matter, because you do and you deserve to be heard,” she said.
Meghan told lawyer and feminist activist Gloria Steinem last month she was “so excited” to see fellow biracial woman Kamala Harris selected as Democrat Joe Biden’s running mate.
Ms Steinem has said the duchess came home to vote and has been cold-calling people to encourage voter participation.
She told Access Hollywood: “She came home to vote. The first thing we did, and why she came to see me, was we sat at the dining room table where I am right now and we cold-called voters.”
As a result of the Time video, one bookmaker now has Meghan at odds of 100/1 to become president of the US in just four years’ time.
Jessica O’Reilly, of Ladbrokes, said: “Since leaving the UK, Meghan hasn’t been shy when it’s come to voicing her political opinions, and a run for president in 2024 certainly isn’t off the table.”
Harry and Meghan were filmed to mark Time 100, a list compiled by the magazine to celebrate the world’s most influential people.
A black Labrador – believed to the couple’s dog Pula – could be seen exploring the garden in the background.