Meghan Markle closed her much talked-about Vogue September edition with a gushing interview with former first lady Michelle Obama was an email exchange.
In her Q&A piece with Obama, Meghan wrote that she sent the former first lady a list of ‘simple’ questions over email and was bowled over when she replied quickly with long, thought-out answers.
She admits that she then wished she’d called her to get more of an interview out of her and to ‘chime in herself’ and let readers know about the inevitable ‘banter’ she says would have ensued.
Their back-and-forth happened when she was still pregnant.
Introducing it, Meghan wrote: ‘Over a casual lunch of chicken tacos and my ever-burgeoning bump, I asked Michelle if she would help me with this secret project.’
She then revealed that their exchange took place over email. It was mostly about motherhood, which Michelle said she was ‘excited’ for Meghan to experience.
Michelle Obama photographed for the September issue of Vogue which is being guest-edited by the Duchess (right). Meghan interviewed her over email for the last page in the magazine and said afterwards that she wishes she’d called her because her answers were so lengthy
Take style tips from the Duchess of Sussex in a tweed dress by Gucci
The Duchess of Sussex has joined forces with Edward Enninful to guest edit the September issue of British Vogue.
Whilst she doesn’t appear on the cover of the magazine, Meghan is pictured looking impossibly chic in the workroom of the Smart Works office in London.
She’s wearing a cream sleeveless dress by Gucci in the photo, which features a check print tweed fabric and a pretty rose and ribbon bow brooch. Chanel might be known as the boucle experts, but Gucci has its fair share of perfect tweed pieces, and we’re in love with this one!
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‘I’m so excited for you and Harry to experience that, Meghan. Savour it all,’ she wrote when asked about her favorite sound which she said was the sounds her daughters made when they slept as newborns.
‘She graciously said yes (because she’s Michelle, she’s gracious), and then very promptly sent answers (because she’s Michelle, she’s prompt),’ she continued.
Meghan then revealed that had she known she would write back in such form, she would have called her, taken notes of not just what Mrs. Obama had to say but record what she had to say too, and shared it.
‘Had I known Michelle would be so generous in making this a comprehensive interview my questions would have been lengthier, more probing, more engaging.
‘I would have called her and included the banter on these pages – the laughs and sighs and ping-pong of dialogue as I chimed in,’ she wrote.
There were six questions and most were about becoming a parent.
Meghan asked her what her advice to her daughters was and if she would give the same advice to sons.
Mrs Obama answered that she would ‘absolutely’ give the same advice to boys as she does to Malia and Sasha.
She cooed when asked by the duchess what she thinks her ’15-year-old self’ would say to her now if they met, replying: ‘I love that question.’
‘If I’m being honest, she’d probably smile about how cute my husband is, too,’ was part of her answer.
Meghan’s guest editor’s letter in Vogue gives an insight into her life as a new royal
Meghan also asked her about one of her initiatives, the Girls Opportunity Alliance.
You sent me the kindest message on Mother’s Day this year. What has motherhood taught you?’ was the first.
Mrs Obama’s answer was: ‘Being a mother has been a masterclass in letting go. Try as we might, there’s only so much we can control. And, boy, have I tried – especially at first. As mothers, we just don’t want anything or anyone to hurt our babies. But life has other plans. Bruised knees, bumpy roads and broken hearts are part of the deal. What’s both humbled and heartened me is seeing the resiliency of my daughters. In some ways, Malia and Sasha couldn’t be more different. One speaks freely and often, one opens up on her own terms. One shares her innermost feelings, the other is content to let you figure it out. Neither approach is better or worse, because they’ve both grown into smart, compassionate and independent young women, fully capable of paving their own paths.’
Motherhood has taught me that, most of the time, my job is to give them the space to explore and develop into the people they want to be. Not who I want them to be or who I wish I was at that age, but who they are, deep inside. Motherhood has also taught me that my job is not to bulldoze a path for them in an effort to eliminate all possible adversity. But instead, I need to be a safe and consistent place for them to land when they inevitably fail; and to show them, again and again, how to get up on their own.
What advice do you give your daughters?
Mrs Obama’s answer was: ‘Don’t just check the boxes you think you’re supposed to check, like I did when I was their age. I tell them that I hope they’ll keep trying on new experiences until they find what feels right. And what felt right yesterday might not necessarily feel right today. That’s OK – it’s good, even. When I was in college, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer because it sounded like a job for good, respectable people. It took me a few years to listen to my intuition and find a path that fit better for who I was, inside and out.
Becoming who we are is an ongoing process, and thank God – because where’s the fun in waking up one day and deciding there’s nowhere left to go? That’s something I wish I’d recognised a little earlier. As a younger woman, I spent too much time worrying that I wasn’t achieving enough, or I was straying too far from what I thought was the prescribed path. What I hope my daughters will realise a little earlier is that there is no prescribed path, that it’s OK to swerve, and that the confidence they need to recognise that will come with time.
How would that advice be different if you were offering it to sons? Or would it be the same?
Mrs Obama’s answer was: ‘It would be exactly the same. My parents, particularly my father, taught my brother and me at an early age to treat boys and girls exactly the same. When I was still in elementary school, my dad bought my brother a pair of boxing gloves. But when he came home from the store, he was carrying not one, but two pairs of gloves. He wasn’t going to teach his son to punch without making sure his daughter could throw a left hook, too. Now, I was a little younger and a little smaller than my brother, but I kept up with him. I could dodge a jab just like he could, and I could hit just as hard as him, too. My father saw that. I think he wanted to make sure that my brother saw that as well.
The Duchess of Sussex is the guest editor on the September issue of British Vogue (Pictured: Jacinda Ardern, Salma Hayek Pinault, Laverne Cox, Jameela Jamil, Yara Shahidi and Gemma Chan, Christy Turlington Burns, Adwoa Aboah, Adut Akech, Ramla Ali, Sinead Burke, Francesca Hayward, Jane Fonda, Greta Thunberg and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
What inspired you to start the Girls Opportunity Alliance [a programme of the Obama Foundation that seeks to empower adolescent girls through education], and what is your goal?
Mrs Obama’s answer: ‘Today, nearly 98 million adolescent girls around the world are not in school. That’s a tragedy – for the girls, of course, but also for all of us. Think of everything we’re missing out on. We know that when we educate girls, when we truly invest in their potential, there is no limit to the good it can do. Girls who attend school have healthier families, they earn higher wages, and the world gets to experience the full expression of their gifts. I formed the Girls Opportunity Alliance because I’ve seen the power of education in my own life. And I believe that every little girl, no matter her circumstances, deserves the opportunity to learn, grow and act on her knowledge. So, we’re connecting grass-roots leaders already working on the ground in countries all over the world, helping them to learn from each other and get the resources, support and platform they need to lift up girls in communities that can use a boost. And we are grateful to all the people around the world who have supported this programme and are interested in taking action to help.’
If you were sitting down with your 15-year-old self, what do you think she would tell you, seeing who you have become today?
I love this question. I had a lot of fun when I was 15, but when it came right down to it, teenage-me was pretty by the book – straight As, through-the-roof standards for herself. So I imagine that she’d be proud of how far I’ve come – but she wouldn’t let me off the hook, either. I feel like she’d give me one of those silent nods of recognition, you know? She’d remind me there are still too many girls on the South Side of Chicago who are being shushed, cast aside or told they’re dreaming too big. She’d tell me to keep fighting for them. If I’m being honest, she’d probably smile about how cute my husband is, too.
And now to shift gears for a moment, and end with a wild-card question… What is the most beautiful sound that you’ve ever heard?
Mrs Obama’s answer: ‘When Malia and Sasha were newborns, Barack and I could lose hours just watching them sleep. We loved to listen to the little sounds they’d make – especially the way they cooed when they were deep into dreaming. Don’t get me wrong, early parenthood is exhausting. I’m sure you know a thing or two about that these days. But there is something so magical about having a baby in the house. Time expands and contracts; each moment holds its own little eternity. I’m so excited for you and Harry to experience that, Meghan. Savour it all.’
Meghan Markle’s Super Sixteen: Duchess of Sussex has handpicked the women she admires most for the cover of Vogue magazine, and the list includes YOU
Handpicked for her Vogue cover, they’re the women the Duchess admires most.
But she’s left one box blank to show YOU can be a game-changer, too.
1: FROM CHILD REFUGEE TO CHANEL SUPERMODEL
Adut Akech, 19. Model.
Adut Akech, 19. Model
As a child refugee, Akech moved from South Sudan to Kenya, where her family was too poor to send her to school. Aged seven, her parents emigrated to Adelaide, Australia. She became a model at 16 and calls Naomi Campbell her ‘second mum’.
CLAIM TO FAME: In 2018, she became only the second black model ever to close the Chanel haute couture show.
WISE WORDS: ‘I promised that I was going to make something out of myself; something really good that would make people proud of me, especially my mother. And that is exactly what I have done.’
ROYAL TIES: At last December’s British Fashion Awards, Meghan presented an award and Akech was nominated for Model of the Year.
Gemma Chan, 36. Actress and campaigner
2: RISING STAR WANTING TO END RACIAL PREJUDICE
Gemma Chan, 36. Actress and campaigner.
The UK-born Oxford law graduate turned her back on the legal profession for showbiz. She made her breakthrough in the romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians and played Minn-Erva in this year’s superhero film Captain Marvel.
CLAIM TO FAME: Pole dancing with singer Celine Dion after this year’s Met Gala: ‘It was the best half an hour of my life.’
WISE WORDS: ‘You’re going to have moments of s**t, but pick yourself up, have a drink and carry on.’
ROYAL TIES: Dated posh comic Jack Whitehall for six years — he once poked fun at Harry’s ginger hair. She and Meghan share a passion for stamping out racial prejudice in the acting world.
Both made Vogue magazine’s best-dressed list last year, and use make-up artist Daniel Martin, who did Meghan’s wedding look.
3: TEEN WHO HOPES TO SAVE THE WORLD
Greta Thunberg, 16. Swedish climate change activist.
She visited the UK in April, and addressed MPs at Westminster. Sparked a ‘school strike for the climate’ among students from 112 countries. Only travels by train and in March made the cover of Time magazine.
CLAIM TO FAME: Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize this year.
WISE WORDS: ‘Our house is falling apart and our leaders need to start acting accordingly.’
ROYAL TIES: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex used their Instagram account to follow Thunberg this month, as part of their ‘monthly social awareness approach’ to their favourite causes.
Greta Thunberg, 16. Swedish climate change activist
Jameela Jamil, 33
4: DJ WHO’S AT WAR WITH FAT SHAMING
Jameela Jamil, 33.
The Hampstead-born children’s TV presenter turned actor and activist advocates ‘body positivity’ through her I Weigh campaign.
CLAIM TO FAME: First solo female presenter of the BBC Radio 1 Chart show in 60 years.
WISE WORDS: ‘The next generation is f*****g done being excluded and looking up to a white straight thin version of what we are supposed to be. We’re done with the dinosaurs . . . and I’m here to kill the last of them.’
ROYAL TIES: Jamil’s I Weigh campaign was a cause the Sussexes chose to support on Instagram. Both women fell out with TV’s Piers Morgan, who accused Meghan of abandoning her friendship with him after she met Harry. Jamil described Morgan as ‘England’s biggest s**t stain’.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 31. Nigerian novelist whose 2012 TEDx talk ‘We should all be feminists’ has been viewed more than five million times
5: WRITER FIGHTING GENDER INJUSTICE
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 31. Nigerian novelist whose 2012 TEDx talk ‘We should all be feminists’ has been viewed more than five million times.
She’s collaborated with Dior on a ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ T-shirt, and in 2016 became the face of Boots No7 make-up. Splits her time between Nigeria and the U.S. and designs clothes with local tailors.
CLAIM TO FAME: Her novel Americanah, about race and identity, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 2013.
WISE WORDS: ‘I am angry. Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice. We should all be angry.’
ROYAL TIES: Both were invited to a private discussion with Michelle Obama at London’s Southbank Centre. She has said Meghan should be the next Head of the Commonwealth after the Queen, not Prince Charles.
6: MODEL & MENTAL HEALTH CAMPAIGNER
Adwoa Aboah, 27. Aristocratic supermodel and descendant of the Earl of Lonsdale, whose mother Camilla founded an artist management agency.
Developed depression as a teenager, when she started taking drugs. After an overdose and stay in a psychiatric hospital, she is now a passionate advocate for the promotion of mental health.
CLAIM TO FAME: The chosen cover star for new editor Edward Enninful’s first edition of Vogue in December 2017.
WISE WORDS: ‘When you’re that unhappy, it’s scary, it’s dark and horrible.’
ROYAL TIES: Supports Heads Together — the charity Meghan and Harry spearheaded with William and Kate until recently.
Adwoa Aboah, 27. Aristocratic supermodel and descendant of the Earl of Lonsdale, whose mother Camilla founded an artist management agency
Meghan says this image — a mirrored panel — represents ‘a mirror to include the reader
Meghan says this image — a mirrored panel — represents ‘a mirror to include the reader and encourage them to use their own platforms to effect change’. Whatever cards life has dealt you, the Duchess believes you are a force for change and are every bit as important as her chosen cover stars.
8: PM WHO HELPED HEAL NEW ZEALAND
Jacinda Ardern, 39.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister garnered widespread praise for her sensitive reaction, which included wearing a headscarf, to the mosque shootings in Christchurch in March by a white supremacist, when 51 were killed.
CLAIM TO FAME: Became the world’s youngest female head of government in October 2017 and only the second world leader to give birth while in office. Her TV presenter partner became a stay-at-home dad.
WISE WORDS: ‘I never, ever grew up as a young woman believing that my gender would stand in the way of doing anything I wanted.’
ROYAL TIES: Met the Duchess last October on the Sussexes’ first royal tour and has said: ‘I think it’s wonderful to have a woman in her position talk so strongly about issues of women’s representation and empowerment.’
Jacinda Ardern, 39, New Zealand Prime Minister
Francesca Hayward, 27. The ballerina was born in Nairobi and moved to Sussex aged two to live with her British grand-parents
9: STAR OF THE ROYAL BALLET
Francesca Hayward, 27. The ballerina was born in Nairobi and moved to Sussex aged two to live with her British grand-parents.
They fuelled her love of dance by giving her a DVD of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Cast alongside Taylor Swift and Judi Dench in the film version of the musical Cats.
CLAIM TO FAME: A principal dancer in the Royal Ballet, the highest rank possible.
wise words: ‘It sounds a cliché but when I’m on stage I’m at my most relaxed, I feel most like myself. When I have the music and costumes and everyone else around me, that’s when I feel most free.’
ROYAL TIES: Clearly, the Duchess admires the way she handles being asked about her race. Has said her background has never affected her career: ‘It’s only when people ask me what it’s like to be a mixed-race dancer that I realise that I am. I’ve never been made to feel different.’
10: SOMALI BOXER TO BEAT BULLIES
Ramla Ali, late 20s (Ali doesn’t know her exact age). Champion Somali boxer who arrived in the UK as a refugee.
Bullied in her early teens for being overweight, she discovered boxing after her mum bought her a pass to an East London gym.
Ramla Ali, late 20s (Ali doesn’t know her exact age). Champion Somali boxer who arrived in the UK as a refugee
Became ‘hooked’ but kept her boxing a secret from her strict Muslim parents, who found out after her brother saw her competing on television. She volunteers for a charity teaching women self-defence.
CLAIM TO FAME: Training to become the first Somali to compete in Olympic boxing in 2020.
WISE WORDS: ‘Every day I am getting messages from people saying: ‘You are doing incredible things for our country, you are raising awareness for our country, a country that has been associated with war and famine for so long, so you are bringing a positive light to the country — thank you so much.’ ‘
ROYAL TIES: They may know each other through Vogue’s editor, Edward Enninful, who she recently thanked on social media for a night out at one of the UK’s starriest events, the Serpentine Gallery’s summer party.
11: CATWALK LEGEND CARING FOR MUMS
Christy Turlington Burns, 50.
One of the original Nineties supermodels who shot to stardom with her campaign for Calvin Klein’s Eternity perfume. More recently the mother of two, married to actor Edward Burns, has founded Every Mother Counts, a non-profit organisation dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safer worldwide.
CLAIM TO FAME: Top casting agent James Scully hailed her as: ‘The greatest model of all time! You could combine every model to this day into one person, and they wouldn’t come close (sorry, girls).’
WISE WORDS: ‘Oh, I’m hardly stylish! I’m such a mess. I don’t think about what I’m going to wear; it’s the last thing I think about.’
ROYAL TIES: Naomi Campbell is a mutual friend and both are yoga fanatics. Once said: ‘Yoga is about compassion and generosity towards others. It means being mindful of the world around us.’
Christy Turlington Burns, 50
Salma Hayek Pinault, 52. Actress, producer and activist
12: FILM STAR WITH A SOCIAL CONSCIENCE
Salma Hayek Pinault, 52. Actress, producer and activist.
The Hollywood star is married to French billionaire businessman François-Henri Pinault. She campaigns to raise awareness of violence against women and discrimination against immigrants (and has said she was once an illegal immigrant in the States after moving from Mexico).
CLAIM TO FAME: Breastfed a new-born whose mother couldn’t produce milk on a UNICEF trip to Sierra Leone.
WISE WORDS: ‘People always underestimate me. But if you stick around long enough, act out of conviction, and try to be honourable in everything you do, good things will come to you.
ROYAL TIES: Both used their acting careers to raise awareness for their charity work — before marrying men very far removed from Hollywood.
13: MADE FASHION MORE INCLUSIVE
Sinead Burke, 29. Irish activist born with achondroplasia, a bone growth disorder, which means she is just three-and-a-half-feet tall.
A fashion fanatic, who would ask for copies of Vogue for her birthday, she started blogging aged 16 to highlight the industry’s inability to cater to disabled fans.
CLAIM TO FAME: Became well known after her TED talk ‘Why design should include everyone’ two years ago.
WISE WORDS: On disabled people in fashion, she says: ‘They’ve not been invited to the table to help make and share decisions.’
ROYAL TIES: Met the Duchess at a reception in Dublin, and was listed alongside her as ‘one of the 25 most influential and aspirational female figures in Britain shaping 2018’ in — where else — Vogue magazine.
Sinead Burke, 29. Irish activist born with achondroplasia, a bone growth disorder, which means she is just three-and-a-half-feet tall
Jane Fonda, 81. Actress, model and fitness guru
14: OSCAR WINNER STILL STRONG AT 81
Jane Fonda, 81. Actress, model and fitness guru.
The thrice-divorced mother of three has been a frequently controversial political activist — she was a staunch opponent of the Vietnam War, earning her the nickname ‘Hanoi Jane’ — and championed feminist causes, saying in 2017: ‘I’ve been raped, I’ve been sexually abused as a child and I’ve been fired because I wouldn’t sleep with my boss.’ Currently stars in Netflix series Grace And Frankie.
CLAIM TO FAME: A legend in Hollywood, she has won two Best Actress Oscars and been nominated several other times. Has also shifted more than 17 million copies of her legendary exercise videos.
WISE WORDS: ‘To be a revolutionary you have to be a human being. You have to care about people who have no power.’
ROYAL TIES: It’s not entirely clear — but Meghan did reportedly relax by watching a Jane Fonda movie, Book Club, on a flight to Canada last year.
15: ACTRESS AND LGBT ACTIVIST
Laverne Cox, 46.
The American actress and transgender advocate found fame on Netflix series Orange Is The New Black and became the first transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. She says: ‘Most Americans learn what they learn about trans people through the media.’
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: The first transgender person to appear on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine.
WISE WORDS: ‘I am a self- made woman in every sense of the word.’
ROYAL TIES: A mutual distrust of President Donald Trump, whom Meghan has described as a ‘misogynist’. Cox says of transgender people: ‘The current President is trying to ban us from the military. Our unemployment rate is three times the national average.’
Laverne Cox, 46, actress and LGBT activist
16: SITCOM QUEEN INSPIRING VOTERS
Yara Shahidi, 19. US actor and model who launched Eighteenx18, a movement to encourage voter turnout.
Currently stars in hit sitcom Grown-ish — and studies at Harvard: ‘I have the great fortune of working with fabulous people who want me to go to college as much as I do.’
CLAIM TO FAME: Given a letter of recommendation by former First Lady Michelle Obama.
WISE WORDS: ‘My passion really stemmed from having gone through the 2016 election, where myself and many of my peers were unable to vote.’
ROYAL TIES: Apart from their early career trajectory on U.S. TV series, they share campaigning stances on racial prejudice. In a scene from Grown-ish, her character, Zoey Johnson, expresses her approval of Meghan’s marriage to Harry. ‘Good on Meghan,’ says Zoey. ‘Girl’s a princess now.’
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