While Making History as Guest Editor of British 'Vogue,' Meghan Markle Focuses on Female Trailblazers

The Duchess chose to put 15 women who've made a difference in the world on the cover.

Her diverse resume includes philanthropist, a longtime advocate for women, Suits star and calligrapher, and now Meghan Markle has added the first-ever guest editor of British Vogue. And as an influential feminist, the Duchess of Sussex has chosen to focus on 15 female “change-makers” in the September issue of the magazine that was founded in 1916.

While other royals, the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, have appeared on the cover of the fashion bible, the American Markle thought it would be too “boastful,” according to Edward Enninful, British Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief. “She wanted, instead, to focus on the women she admires," he said.


Introducing the September 2019 issue of #BritishVogue, guest-edited by HRH The Duchess of Sussex @SussexRoyal. Entitled #ForcesForChange, the cover features 15 world-leading women who are reshaping public life for global good, and were personally chosen by The Duchess of Sussex, and British Vogue’s editor-in-chief @Edward_Enninful. The 16th slot – which, in print, appears as a mirror – is intended by The Duchess to show how you are part of this collective moment of change too. Click the link in bio to read about how The #DuchessOfSussex became the first guest editor of the September issue in the magazine’s 103-year history. Photographed in New York, Stockholm, London and Auckland by @TheRealPeterLindbergh, with fashion editors @Edward_Enninful and @TheRealGraceCoddington, hair by @BartPumpkin and @SergeNormant, make-up by @TheValGarland and @Diane.Kendal, nails by @LorraineVGriffin and @YukoTsuchihashi. On newsstands Friday 2 August. Starring: @AdwoaAboah @AdutAkech @SomaliBoxer @JacindaArdern @TheSineadBurke @Gemma_Chan @LaverneCox @JaneFonda @SalmaHayek @FrankieGoesToHayward @JameelaJamilOfficial @Chimamanda_Adichie @YaraShahidi @GretaThunberg @CTurlington

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Consequently the cover, which has the theme ‘Forces for Change’ written in stark orange print, is a mosaic of close-up portraits of the 15 women who are "each driving impact and raising the bar for equality, kindness, justice and open mindedness." Plus, the 16th panel is mirrored paper, intended to show the readers’ reflections so they can feel included and inspired to be their own forces for change.

The line-up on the cover of the September issue, which is considered the most influential edition of the year for fashion magazines, includes:

  1. Jane Fonda, campaigner and actor,
  2. Jacinda Arden, New Zealand’s Prime Minister
  3. Sinead Burke, author and disability rights activist
  4. Greta Thunberg, teenage climate change campaigner
  5. Francesca Hayward, principal dancer at the Royal Ballet
  6. Jameela Jamil, body positivity advocate and actor
  7. Yara Shahidi, fellow actor and founder of Eighteen x 18
  8. Chimamanda Ngozi, author
  9. Salma Hayek Pinault, actor and renowned women's rights advocate
  10. Christy Turlington Burns, American model, charity-founder, campaigner and filmmaker
  11. Adwoa Aboah, model, activist, and founder of Gurls Talk
  12. Adut Akech, model, activist and former refugee
  13. Laverne Cox, LGBTQIA+ supporter, actor and producer
  14. Gemma Chan, campaigner and actor
  15. Ramla Ali, boxer and former refugee

Acclaimed fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh was picked to shoot the 15 black-and-white photographs. "Peter sees beauty in real people, in real situations. He makes everybody feel their best," Enninful said about the choice. And in an interview with Vogue, the German photographer revealed the only instruction he got from the royal was, "I want to see freckles." Markle has been vocal about keeping things natural in the past, remarking, "To this day, my pet peeve is when my skin tone is changed and my freckles are airbrushed out of a photo shoot," during an interview with Allure magazine.

The issue, which is available starting August 2, also features a frank conversation between Meghan and former US First Lady Michelle Obama, with the pair discussing motherhood, reflecting on when they were young and touching on the advice Obama gives her daughters. Additionally, there’s an interview with famous ethologist Dr Jane Goodall that delves into how we can better look after the natural world, conducted by none other than Markle’s husband, Prince Harry.


“Whatever your background, it’s easy to feel connected to Mrs Obama. There’s something magical about the way in which she draws you in with her endearingly frank, down-to-earth personality.” As First Lady of the United States, @MichelleObama forged a path as the nation’s mother-in-chief – and became a style icon in the process. Now, freed from White House protocol, she’s loosening up, but still dispensing immaculate advice. In a rare interview, she talks motherhood and maturity with #BritishVogue’s guest editor HRH The Duchess of Sussex @SussexRoyal. Read the full piece from the September 2019 issue via the link in bio. #MichelleObama photographed by @MillerMobley.

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The Duchess, who started working on the issue in January, wrote a letter as guest editor, in which she describes how she asked Enninful if she could guest edit the September issue via text message. The Editor-in-Chief, who has been a vocal proponent of improving diversity and ethics in the fashion industry, had initially invited her to appear on the cover. She also explains her choices for the magazine in the letter. She wrote the edition was created with the intent to “pivot from a perspective of frustration to one of optimism.” The mother of three-year-month old Archie, who wanted to “go a bit deeper, ” also wrote, “The overall sentiment I hope you’ll find, however, will be one of positivity, kindness, humour and inclusivity.”

In a statement, the 37-year-old Markle said it had been rewarding to curate and collaborate with Enninful “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.” She also said: “Through this lens I hope you’ll feel the strength of the collective in the diverse selection of women chosen for the cover as well as the team of support I called upon within the issue to help bring this to light. I hope readers feel as inspired as I do, by the ‘Forces for Change’ they’ll find within these pages.”

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