LONDON — Ever since America’s Meghan Markle married Britain’s Prince Harry, there have been questions about how outspoken the self-proclaimed feminist would be. Would she be Britain’s first “woke princess”? How much would she rein in her activism to meet the royal requirement to remain apolitical?
Meghan, now Duchess of Sussex, has become the first person to guest edit the magazine’s September edition — generally considered the fashion bible’s most important of the year — and used her stint to highlight women who are “forces for change.”
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A sneak peek of the #ForcesForChange video for the September Issue of @BritishVogue. Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Sussex is the first Guest Editor for British Vogue’s September Issue and for the last seven months has worked to create an issue of inclusivity and inspiration, focusing on what connects us rather than what divides us. Fifteen women were chosen for the cover including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who generously lent her time to support The Duchess in this important issue. The women first met last autumn during Their Royal Highness’ official tour of New Zealand. Above, PM Ardern says: “One change that I’ve noticed over the course of my career, is just how polarised the world is now. I do think there is a solution to that though, and that’s ultimately us coming back to the humanity that we all share." Thank you PM Ardern for being an amazing force for change. For more details on this special project, please see previous post and stay tuned for more updates throughout the week.
Meghan declined to appear on the cover herself.
“She felt that it would be in some ways a ‘boastful’ thing to do for this particular project,” British Vogue editor Edward Enninful writes. “She wanted, instead, to focus on women she admires.”
The cover features 15 women, including teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, actor and women’s rights advocate Salma Hayek, actor and transgender activist Laverne Cox, Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and model Adut Akech, a former refugee from South Sudan.
A 16th spot represents a mirror, to suggest that readers can also effect change.
Inside, Meghan interviews former first lady Michelle Obama, and Prince Harry talks to primatologist Jane Goodall.
Enninful pays tribute to Meghan in his editor’s note, writing that her charity work “bears all the hallmarks of a true activist” and hailing “the gently modernising manner in which she has approached her new role.”
“As you will see from her selections throughout the September issue, she is also willing to wade into more complex and nuanced areas, whether they concern female empowerment, mental health, race or privilege,” he writes.
Some in the British media world say she went too far.
“MEG’S LEFTIE ISSUE” roared the Sun newspaper, which said she was celebrating women known for their “leftie views.” The paper also noted that Meghan, who gave birth to baby Archie in May, had found time to guest-edit the magazine but was seemingly too busy to meet with President Trump during his state visit to Britain in June.
In a piece headlined, “The cause Meghan Markle is mostly supporting is the Me, Myself and I Foundation,” Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir also explained why she was unimpressed with the selection of women chosen.
Senior women in the royal family have worked with the magazine before. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, appeared on the cover in 2016, and Diana, Princess of Wales, also was featured on the cover several times.
Meghan said in a statement she had worked on the project for the past seven months to “take the year’s most read fashion issue and steer its focus to the values, causes and people making impact in the world today.”
Meghan said: “I hope readers feel as inspired as I do, by the forces for change they’ll find within these pages.”