As a fan of what Meghan Markle stands for, this week has been tricky, with the complications thrown up by – seriously – a British Vogue cover.
For those who haven’t heard, Meghan guest-edited the September issue of the fashion bible, with a cover featuring 15 influential female role models, including Jacinda Ardern.
I spent 24 years writing for magazines. Looks easy, doesn’t it, when you pick up a fat glossy at the airport and the pages smell and feel rich? Truth is, below the images and words are at least one semi-breakdown, a stack of tantrums and a roiling pot of egos. Not pretty.
More, I am the granddaughter and daughter of women who always did paid work while raising their families. Now as a working mother myself I hugely admire anyone else, whoever you are, who is too.
Which is why Meghan intrigued me with her plan, signalled early in her marriage to Prince Harry, not to plonk gratefully onto a couch at Frogmore Cottage and do the odd bit of whatever passes for ribbon cutting in the royal family these days.
She totally could have. Money is no issue, and expectations of what Brits want in Windsor brides are clear: lovely hair and the willingness to subjugate personal ambition for the good of the country.
Kind of like a high-class prostitute, but with diamonds and castles to paper over the reality of having to always satisfy other people’s desires.
Fabulous modern royal Kate Middleton is the antithesis of Meghan in terms of professional aspirations. The future queen, never a career girl, is clearly delighted being the wife of a man whose bank balance is large enough she can raise the “kiddies” in between duchessing. Good for her. Dream realised, which is what we all want.
But Meghan wants to really work, and she doesn’t want it to be token PR and hand shaking. She wants it to mean something to her and to others, a goal which should be applauded rather than being squashed down by a howling public and press.
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Spotlight on: Smart Works We are proud to be supporting a very special initiative this autumn for @SmartWorksCharity! After quiet visits to Smartworks over the last year, The Duchess was moved by the impactful work being done by this non profit organisation that helps women into the workforce, equipping them with both the skills and clothes they need to feel job-ready. Throughout her visits she noticed that while the donations were plentiful, they were also notably a combination of mismatched items and colours which weren’t always the right stylistic choices or sizes that didn’t necessarily “suit” the job at hand: to make a woman feel confident and inspired as she walked into her job interview. As a result, launching this autumn, The Duchess will be supporting a collective to help equip the women of Smart Works with the key workwear essentials they need as they enter into the workplace. This initiative is supported by four generous brands who share the vision to empower the women of Smart Works to look and feel 💯 as they bravely venture in to what can often be a daunting environment for those who have been out of the job market. The brands have come together to work towards this united force for good, “[reframing] the idea of charity as community,” as The Duchess writes in a piece for this month’s British Vogue. They will follow the 1:1 model where an item from the collection purchased is an item shared with a woman of Smart Works because “not only does this allow us to be part of each other’s story; it reminds us we are in it together.” For more information on how you can be part of another woman’s success story visit @smartworkscharity. Special thanks to: @JohnLewisandPartners, @MarksandSpencer, @MishaNonoo, @InsideJigsaw for supporting this very special organisation. And to find out more, read the September issue of @BritishVogue and stay tuned for more exciting updates this autumn. Photo©️SussexRoyal
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Um, also, it’s 2019 although it seems like the bloodthirsty Middle Ages judging by the scathing attacks over Vogue.
“Meghan’s virtue-signaling is all about boasting. It screams ‘Me! Me! Me!’” wrote Melanie Phillips in The Times.
“I don’t think I have ever seen a more misguided or patronising outpouring,” said Camilla Tominey in The Telegraph, calling the contributions of Meghan (and Harry, with his claim the Sussexes will save the planet by stopping at two children) “nonsense.”
And it went on and on, despite a statement from Buckingham Palace hailing the issue and its “trailblazing change makers”.
So while I wanted to be fully in Meghan’s corner for knowing how hard she worked – and that she worked at all, especially at the pointy end of her first pregnancy – here’s the problem I have with the Vogue thing.
It’s not the hardcore wokeness of it all, although it is starting to get on my goat that the earnest, worthy Sussexes can’t just have a bit of fun.
It’s that Meghan, who we still know best for words she said on Suits written by someone else, was revealed as a Californian knucklehead with so much self-awareness she has none.
Her editorial was hilarious, seemingly written in pink glitter pen while she was in a detoxifying chamber painted with a trompe l’oeil of unicorns donated by Gwyneth Paltrow.
Her Vogue, Meghan wrote, had both “substance and levity”. Her beauty pages (paid for by companies making actual little jars of expensive cream) were about “internal” beauty and breathing, which Meghan told us was important if we, like, wanted to be alive.
In a fashion magazine whose sole purpose is fashion, she intoned fashion can see “focus skewed toward the superficial”. Most entertaining of all, she apologised in a “caveat” that her “ethical” stories were surrounded by advertising pages: “Please know there are elements that just come with the territory.”
That Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful published a total dismissal of the brands who finance his entire magazine was astonishing, but he seemed lost himself in Meghan’s hocus pocus. His own ed letter spoke of cups of “steaming mint tea” and letters signed only with ‘M’, like clues in a 1920s crime farce.
The finishing touch was Meghan’s reference to an Anais Nin book she read “many moons ago”, which resonated: “I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”
That Meghan thinks mermaids are real tells us everything. The Duchess of Sussex is admirable and energetic – and talks a lot of unfathomable rubbish. She’s cooked.