Further fuel has been added to the furious controversy surrounding Prince Harry’s decision to wade into US politics over renewed interest in his close friendship with President-elect Joe Biden’s wife Jill.
The 36-year-old Duke of Sussex and Dr. Jill Biden, 69, have enjoyed a firm friendship for seven years, after first meeting when Harry toured the US back in 2013 – with President-elect Joe even joking in 2016 that his wife had ‘spent too much damn time’ with Harry.
Speculation about their close relationship comes just weeks after Harry and his wife Meghan Markle were blasted for publicly speaking out about the presidential election – and accused of publicly encouraging voters to support Biden’s campaign. Traditionally, members of the Royal Family are expected to remain politically neutral at all times.
Best buds? Prince Harry and Jill Biden have enjoyed a close friendship for several years, with the wife of President-elect Joe regularly showing her support for the Duke’s Invictus Games
First meeting: Harry, 36, and Jill, 69, met in May 2013 at a reception for US and British wounded soldiers in D.C., where they’re said to have bonded over their shared dedication to the military
Fast friends: The Duke of Sussex and then-Second Lady Jill then attended a Mother’s Day tea for military moms hosted by Michelle Obama at the White House two days later
Despite their 33-year age gap, Jill and Harry are said to have bonded over their shared dedication to the armed forced; the Duke spent 10 years serving in the British Army, while Jill’s late son Beau was a major in the US Military.
Prince Harry and Jill first met at a reception for US and British wounded soldiers in Washington, D.C. in May 2013, and two days later they reunited at a Mother’s Day tea for military moms, which was hosted at the White House by then-First Lady Michelle Obama – another close friend of the Duke’s and his wife Meghan Markle.
Jill then attended the inaugural Invictus Games – a multi-sport competition for wounded soldiers and veterans that Harry launched in 2014 – in London, where she sat alongside the grinning Duke for several events.
At the time, Joe – who did not travel to London with his wife – joked to reporters back in the US that he was ‘a little worried’ about how much time Harry and Jill were spending together.
‘…My wife was with Prince Harry at the Invictus Games. And I read in the Guardian, or one of them, and it says – I’m paraphrasing – everywhere Prince harry went, he had this blonde woman on his arm,’ he said, adding: ‘The Vice President’s wife! I’m a little worried here, you know what I mean?’
Any comedic concern did not stop Joe from forming his own friendship with Harry, however, and he showed his own support for the Duke’s Invictus Games event in 2016, when it was hosted in Orlando, sitting alongside Harry and Jill during a wheelchair basketball game.
That didn’t stop him from once again poking fun at his wife’s bond with Harry, saying: ‘Jill went to London for the last Games. She spent too much damn time with Prince Harry!’
The Bidens once again attended the Invictus Games in Toronto in 2017 – the same year that Harry stepped out in public with Meghan, 39, for the first time.
Shared values: The duo both have strong ties to the armed forces; Harry spent 10 years serving in the British Army (left), while Jill’s late son Beau was a major in the US Military (right)
Support: In September 2014, Jill flew to London to attend the inaugural Invictus Games, and her clear bond with Harry prompted Joe to joke that he was ‘a little worried’
Squad: Harry, who is also close friends with the Obamas, reunited with pals Jill and Michelle in 2015 at an event in Virginia to promote the 2016 Invictus Games
Although the Duke has not been seen publicly with Joe or Jill since then, he waded into controversy when he was accused of showing favoritism towards the Democratic candidate, while speaking out publicly about the US presidential election.
Harry’s decision to publicly wade into the issue prompted critics on both sides of the Atlantic to slam him for violating a centuries-old royal tradition of maintaining political neutrality.
In September, Harry and Meghan recorded a video message for Times 100 urging Americans to vote, while hinting that they both supported Biden.
The Duke urged people to ‘reject hate speech’ while the Duchess called it the ‘most important election of our lifetime’ in remarks which made waves on both sides of the Atlantic.
‘Every four years, we’re told, “This is the most important election of our lifetime.” But this one is,’ Meghan said. ‘When we vote, our values are put into action, and our voices are heard.’
Although Harry noted in the video that he ‘hasn’t been able to vote in the UK’ during his lifetime, he urged those who can take part in the US election to ‘reject… misinformation and online negativity’ in the lead-up to the political event.
Sources close to the pair denied that they were publicly throwing their weight behind any one candidate, however royal insiders the world over voiced concern about their decision to speak about politics at all – particularly because the Queen and her family are expected to remain politically neutral at all times.
Buckingham Palace also distanced itself from Harry and Meghan’s remarks in a stinging response by saying the Duke is ‘not a working member of the royal family’ and describing his comments as being ‘made in a personal capacity’.
Three’s a crowd? The Bidens showed their joint support for the Games in 2016, although Joe couldn’t help but joke that his wife had ‘spent too much damn time’ with Harry in 2014
Guests of honor: Joe and Jill were also present at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto – however they have not been seen publicly with Prince Harry since then
Controversial? Harry (pictured with Jill in 2017) was recently slammed for seemingly hinting that he supported Biden’s presidential campaign
Still, the couple’s pointed political comments sparked outrage, and royal experts told DailyMail.com that the couple should give up their titles and sever their links to the monarchy for good if they want to comment on US politics, while insiders told the Times that palace aides would be concerned about their intervention.
DailyMail.com editor-at-large Piers Morgan said: ‘Prince Harry poking his woke nose into the US election and effectively telling Americans to vote against President Trump is completely unacceptable behavior for a member of the Royal Family.’
Days before the Time 100 video was released, activist and Democrat campaigner Gloria Steinem revealed that Meghan had been ‘cold-calling US voters’, explaining that she and the Duchess of Sussex reached out to people together in order to encourage them to take part in the election process.
‘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,’ Gloria, 86, told Access Hollywood.
A spokesperson for Prince Harry ‘declined to comment on the current status of Harry’s relationship with Biden’ when asked by Insider, however given the public outrage over the Duke’s decision to wade into US politics, it’s likely that any public show of friendship would prompt furious controversy, particularly in the wake of the closely-fought election.
Previously, any show of friendliness between Harry and the Bidens was done so in an official capacity in terms of the Duke’s role as a senior royal and the Invictus Games founder – and meetings took place with the backing of the Royal Family and the UK government at sanctioned events.
However, after Harry stepped down from his official duties as a royal, any show of friendship or support for the Bidens would be done on a personal level – and could once again spark outcry over whether the Duke is demonstrating political allegiances – and flouting royal traditions in the process.
Since the election, both Harry and Meghan have refrained from once again speaking out about politics – however a source revealed to the New York Post last week that the Duchess of Sussex had cast her vote early via mail-in ballot.
Upset: Harry and Meghan prompted furious backlash when they spoke out about the election in a Time 100 video (pictured), despite royals being expected to remain politically neutral
That same source also claimed that Meghan – who has made her political ambitions increasingly clear over the past few months while taking part in numerous virtual summits and Zoom conferences – would not have let anything stop her from voting in this election, insisting that she’d have cast her ballot even if she and Harry had still been living in the UK.
‘Meghan was an American long before she was a royal,’ the unnamed source said. ‘She wouldn’t miss voting in this election no matter where she was living.’
Harry was not be able to actually vote in the election because he is not a US citizen, but one source close to the couple, who re-located to California with their son Archie earlier this year, said that both he and Meghan had taken a ‘keen interest’ in the events leading up to it.
‘They have taken a keen interest in this election and I’m sure they are eagerly awaiting the outcome,’ a ‘friend’ told People.
Although Meghan is not officially a royal, having lost her status as a senior member of The Firm when she and Harry chose to step away from their duties at the start of the year, she is the first person with such close attachment to the monarchy to take part in a US election in modern history.
Neither Meghan or Harry actually voiced their support for one particular candidate ahead of the election – however the Duchess of Sussex has previously spoken about her dislike of President Donald Trump, branding him ‘misogynistic’ and ‘divisive’ during a talk show appearance in 2016, shortly after he had won the election.
When Trump made an official state visit to the UK in June 2019, Meghan did not join the other royals in meeting him – a move that some royal sources claimed was her way of showing her disapproval of the President, although officially, her absence was blamed on the fact that she was still on maternity leave.
However, it was revealed in November 2019 that Meghan had invited Hillary Clinton to visit her and baby Archie at Frogmore Cottage – the family’s home in the UK – where the two women were said to have enjoyed a ‘very warm, sweet’ meeting.