LONDON — Climate activist Greta Thunberg. Body positivity advocate and actor Jameela Jamil. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. These are just some of the women featured in the September edition of British Vogue, which had a special guest editor: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.
The edition of the magazine, called “Forces for Change,” features “a collection of trailblazing changemakers, united by their fearlessness in breaking barriers,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement. Meghan is the first person to guest-edit the September issue of the magazine, generally considered to be the fashion bible’s most important of the year.
The magazine also features a “candid conversation” between Meghan and former first lady Michelle Obama, as well as an interview of Goodall by Prince Harry, the palace said.
Meghan has long championed women’s rights and signaled from the start that she would not stop just because she became a royal. Within hours of her nuptials to Prince Harry, a new page appeared on the British monarchy’s website where the former Meghan Markle declared herself a feminist. Last year, Markle gave a rousing speech to mark the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand, where she said that “feminism is about fairness.”
Behind the cover
In total, 15 women are featured on the cover. Meghan asked that one box be left empty to represent a mirror, as a way to include the reader as someone who can effect change.
Meghan also decided not to appear on the cover herself because it would be “boastful,” according to the magazine’s editor in chief, Edward Enninful.
“As you will see from her selections throughout this magazine, she is also willing to wade into more complex and nuanced areas, whether they concern female empowerment, mental health, race or privilege,” he said.
“From the very beginning, we talked about the cover — whether she would be on it or not. In the end, she felt that it would be in some ways a “boastful” thing to do for this particular project. She wanted, instead, to focus on the women she admires.”
The women featured include Adwoa Aboah, a model and mental health campaigner; Laverne Cox, a transgender activist and actor; Adut Akech, a model and former refugee from South Sudan; and Jane Fonda, the American actor and campaigner.
The list also includes actor and women’s rights advocate Salma Hayek Pinault; London-based Somali boxer Ramla Ali; and author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who sat down with Michelle Obama in London late last year for a sold-out event to promote Obama’s book, “Becoming.”
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 that she had worked on the project for the last 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.”
But as a senior member of the British royal family, she is nonetheless expected to shy away from party politics and controversial issues.
Not everyone agreed she had.
“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 an article 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.