The Duchess of Sussex has today faced a backlash for featuring the 15 ‘women she admires’ on the September issue of British Vogue.
The Duchess becomes the first royal to guest-edit the fashion bible, bringing together 15 ‘trailblazers’ and ‘changemakers’ for a special ‘Forces for Change’ issue.
The line-up of women she admires includes celebrities, politicians and activists known for championing issues such as diversity, body positivity, transgender rights and climate change.
But the 37-year-old, who gave birth to son Archie in May, has been slammed by critics for failing to include the Queen in the magazine and for ignoring nurses, doctors, lawyers and teachers on the cover.
Meghan’s edition, includes actress Jane Fonda, 81, and climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg, 16 among other famous faces.
One online commenter tweeted it was ‘vacuous rubbish’ and another called the magazine ‘absolutely awful’.
The duchess, a former actress and avowed feminist, had initially been asked to appear on the cover herself. But Vogue’s editor-in-chief Edward Enninful said Meghan refused as she thought it would appear too ‘boastful’.
In a video posted to the Sussex’s Instagram page today, a visibly pregnant Meghan appears alongside Enninful as they put the finishing touches to the magazine.
The post says the Duchess spent the last seven months creating ‘an issue of inclusivity and inspiration, focusing on what connects us rather than what divides us.’
Critics have also hit out at Meghan for promoting her friends and ‘involving herself in politics’. Ingrid Seward of Majesty magazine told the Sun: ‘The Duchess of Sussex has done a huge favour for the House of Conde Naste and rather less for the House of Windsor’.
The duchess said she wanted to focus on the ‘women she admires’ from the ‘frontline of fashion, film, tech and wellness’. Meghan has also selected content for the issue which, according to Mr Enninful, shows she is willing to wade into issues of ‘female empowerment, mental health, race or privilege’.
Meghan’s trailblazers include actress Jane Fonda, mental health campaigner and model Adwoa Aboah, transgender Orange Is the New Black actress Laverne Cox, climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg and New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern.
It represents one of the most radical moves in Vogue’s 100-year history, with the magazine saying it considers the new September issue to be its most important edition of the year.
The 16th image on the cover is a mirror to ‘include the reader and encourage them to use their own platforms to effect change’ – the duchess’s idea. Prince Charles, Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge have all tried their hand at being journalists in recent years to plug causes close to their hearts.
Kate was also the cover star of the Vogue centenary issue in 2016. However, rarely has a collaboration been so ‘woke’ – a political term for being socially aware over issues such as race and sexual equality.
It makes clear that Meghan is determined not to give up the level of activism she enjoyed when working as an actress before she met the Queen’s grandson.
In 2015 she addressed the United Nations on the issue of female empowerment, highlighting how at the age of 11 she was so outraged by a sexist washing detergent advertisement on TV that she wrote to the manufacturers who agreed to pull it.
Royal commentator Dickie Arbiter told MailOnline royals had to ‘tread carefully’ when involving themselves in politics.
Mr Arbiter said: ‘It’s a very fine line, it seems everything today has a political connotation. I think [Meghan] has taken note of what she can do and can’t say.
‘Vogue is a vehicle for royals to put forward their views in terms of their favourite charities – it’s a vehicle to get the charity out there to a wider circle – a circle that has got the money to contribute. This will get people sitting up and putting their hands in their pockets.’
Mr Arbiter told MailOnline members of the royal family have previously used Vogue as a platform to promote their favourite charitable causes.
He added: ‘This is not the first time a member of the royal family has done it – it’s a good vehicle.
‘I think the list of people that she’s going to be editing is an interesting list – I don’t think many people will know anything about them. Of course, everyone knows Jacinda Ardern, who has done a wonderful job. Jane Fonda is well known.
‘The rest of them are relatively unknown but until once they got in Vogue, you’ll know them. Vogue has a very faithful audience.
‘[The Duchess] has set herself an interesting list of people so I am curious to know who put the list together – I’m sure the Duchess had help with the input – these women come from far and wide; from Nigeria, south Sudan, Somalia.
‘It will make for an interesting read and I wish her the best of luck with it. I’m not sure what editing involves, but I doubt she’ll be writing pieces on the contributors.’
When asked for his thoughts on the Duchess working through her pregnancy, Mr Arbiter added: ‘People who fall pregnant don’t stop living, contributing, or thinking. It doesn’t mean you can’t make good use of your time.’
But the collaboration was not universally admired. Brexit MEP Ann Widdecombe told the Sun: ‘Royals have not only got to keep out of politics but they have got to be seen to keep out of politics.’
Insiders insist the duchess was not just a figurehead for the British Vogue project but a hands-on collaborator, involving herself in everything including artwork and layout.
There is a ‘candid conversation’ between Meghan and former US First Lady Michelle Obama.
Meghan has also chosen to feature an interview between Prince Harry and primatologist Dr Jane Goodall.
The duchess posed for just one image inside the magazine – an arty black and white shot in the London office of charity Smart Works, which helps get women from disadvantaged backgrounds ready for job interviews.
On the Sussex’s Instagram page a caption alongside the video reads: ‘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.’
It is understood that discussions between Meghan and Vogue began in January and she has been working with the team for months.
A source told the Mail: ‘The duchess and Edward first met in January. She had already been approached by a huge number of publications. It wasn’t something she was actively looking to do but she had heard a lot about Edward and, as the patron of Smart Works, she thought that Vogue could be a good link-up. So actually initially she reached out to him.
‘Edward pitched for her to be on the front cover but this was something she wasn’t keen on…so the duchess just asked him ‘Would you consider me guest-editing?’ The September issue is a major deal in the fashion industry and no one has ever been allowed to guest-edit before.’
The source said Meghan had been ‘totally hands-on’ throughout her pregnancy with her new baby Archie. The team met with her at Kensington Palace and her Frogmore Cottage home and there were ‘hundreds of emails and phone calls’. The insider added: ‘This was a real project of passion for her throughout her pregnancy and Archie’s arrival. It’s been a massive labour of love. It’s been a very collaborative process. But the levels of secrecy have been insane!’
In a statement, Meghan said: ‘These last seven months have been a rewarding process, curating and collaborating with Edward 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.
‘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.’
Edward Enniful, the magazine’s editor, said: ‘To have the country’s most influential beacon of change guest edit British Vogue at this time has been an honour, a pleasure and a wonderful surprise.
‘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.
‘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.’
Meghan is far from the first member of the royal family to have influenced the pages of British Vogue.
Princess Diana featured on the cover three times, while Princess Anne has also appeared three times: in September 1971, May 1973 and November 1973.
Her sister-in-law the Duchess of Cambridge also adorned the cover of the magazine’s centenary issue in 2016.
It was also rumoured earlier this month that the royal was in discussions with Anna Wintour about writing a regular column for the magazine focusing on her charity work.
An insider claimed the potential monthly feature would be similar to an article featuring in British Vogue’s September issue.
Speaking of the September issue, the source said: ‘The spread in Vogue won’t be a superficial photoshoot – on the contrary, she wants to use it as a platform to make a difference.
‘She is working with Vogue as a contributing editor on a few fabulous stories about the causes that are near and dear to her and it may eventually become a regular column.
‘Anna Wintour is also part of the talks and is in discussion about running some or all of the stories in US Vogue.’
The collaboration with Vogue was partially inspired by Amal Clooney, according to the source, who encouraged the duchess to use the magazine to promote her charity work.
From Daily Mail