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Meghan Markle reveals SHE asked to guest edit Vogue

The Duchess of Sussex asked to guest edit Vogue rather than be the cover star, a letter she wrote to readers reveals.

Meghan chose to promote 15 ‘trailblazing’ women who have campaigned for body positivity, transgender rights and climate change when she took control of the British September edition of the fashion magazine.

But she has come under fire from some royal watchers for the edition being too political for a member of the Royal Family, who are supposed to stay politically neutral.

A letter she has written to readers now reveals she asked to become guest editor of the edition rather than appear on the front cover.

Meghan, who at the time was five months’ pregnant with son Archie, said: ‘So I asked the question. Actually, I typed and deleted the question several times until I built up the courage to ask the question in question: ‘Edward… instead of doing the cover, would you be open to me guest editing your September issue?’

The editor in chief, Edward Enninful, replied that he would ‘love’ for Meghan to be his guest editor, she said.

Meghan said about her edition: ‘The overall sentiment I hope you’ll find, however, will be one of positivity, kindness, humour and inclusivity.’

She describes her interview with the ‘extraordinary’ former US first lady Michelle Obama as ‘a candid and heartfelt conversation’. 

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)

The duchess goes on to say: ‘More than anything, this issue is about the power of the collective.

‘In identifying our personal strengths, it is anchored in the knowledge that we are even stronger together. You will find that spirit of inclusivity on the cover: diverse portraiture of women of varying age, colour, creed, nationality and life experience, and of unquestionable inspiration.

‘Some, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and enlisted personally for this issue, others I’ve admired from afar for their commitment to a cause, their fearlessness in breaking barriers, or what they represent simply by being.

‘These are our forces for change. And among all of these strong women on the cover, a mirror – a space for you, the reader, to see yourself. Because you, too, are part of this collective.’

Meghan revealed the philosophy that guided her guest editorship of the fashion bible Vogue was a quote from the book The Four-Chambered Heart by Anais Nin, based on the author’s relationship with a lover.

The female protagonist Djuna tells her partner Rango, the duchess writes: ‘I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.’

Meghan writes: ‘For this issue, I imagined, “why would we swim in the shallow end of the pool when we could go to the deep end?” A metaphor for life, as well as for this issue. Let’s be braver. Let’s go a bit deeper.

‘That’s what Edward and I have aimed to achieve. An issue of both substance and levity.’

In a video posted to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Instagram, she appears alongside editor Vogue's editor-in-chief Edward Enninful

Here the Duchess is seen viewing the photos from the line-up of women she admires

In a video posted to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Instagram (pictured), she appears alongside editor Vogue’s editor-in-chief Edward Enninful picking the line-up of women she admires

One critic slammed the Duchess for failing to include the Queen on the cover

Another said she should have picked a nurse, teacher or doctor

One critic slammed the Duchess for failing to include the Queen on the cover – while another said she should have picked a nurse, teacher or doctor

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.  

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.’ 

Critics have also hit out at Meghan for ‘involving herself in politics’ and ‘considering herself more of an A lister than a member of the royal family’. 

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, 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’.  

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. 

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’. 

A candid photograph released alongside the September cover pictures the duchess in the workroom of the Smart Works office in London

A candid photograph released alongside the September cover pictures the duchess in the workroom of the Smart Works office in London

Royal commentator Rob Jobson told Sky News Meghan’s cover was ‘right on and ticks all the boxes’, but warned against getting involved in politics by asking the New Zealand Prime Minister to take part. 

He also commented on Meghan working on the guest edit while on maternity leave – when she did not meet the US President. 

He added: ‘She picked a conversation she had with Michelle Obama, this was done while she was on maternity leave, but she wasn’t around for when Donald Trump was here for the state visit. 

‘You have got to be quite careful, if you want a voice, that is great. That is perfect if you are not necessarily a member of the Royal Family.

‘But, she has got to be very careful not to be partisan and I think that whilst you are using this for a force of good, you have just got to be a little bit careful on the politics side.’ 

Meghan Markle told photographer ‘I want to see freckles’ and gave ‘clear instructions’ for her 15 Vogue cover stars to look natural 

The photographer who captured portraits for Meghan Markle’s edition of Vogue has revealed the royal phoned him with ‘clear instructions’ for the magazine’s 15 cover shots. 

Peter Lindbergh said Meghan phoned him on the morning of a photoshoot in New York, telling Vogue: ‘My instructions from the Duchess were clear: ‘I want to see freckles!’. Well, that was like running through open doors for me. I love freckles.’ 

A close-up of model Adwoa Aboah on the cover, showing her freckled skin, proves the photographer followed Meghan’s instructions to the letter. 

The photographer was personally chosen by the duchess and editor-in-chief Edward Enninful, after he worked with Meghan for her 2016 Vanity Fair cover story, in which she spoke about her romance with Prince Harry for the first time. 

Enninful revealed that he and Meghan had ‘exactly the same idea at exactly the same time’ to select the German photographer to help create the cover of the September issue.

The images were shot over three continents and several days in June, with separate shoots happening in New York, Sweden and London.

It was shortly before the New York shoot that Meghan phoned Peter and explicitly told him she wanted to see ‘freckles’ in the photographs. 

He also revealed that ‘natural’ was a word that repeatedly came up in cover conversations, saying: ‘I hate retouching, I hate make-up. I always say, ‘Take the make-up off!’ 

Author and broadcaster Bobby Friedman claims Meghan sees herself ‘more of an A-lister celebrity rather than a member of the Royal Family.’ 

Mr Friedman told Sky News: ‘The difficulty that Meghan has is that this comes on the back of a very few difficult months for her.

‘Where the impression, probably unfairly, that people are getting is that Meghan sees her self as an A-lister, as a Taylor Swift or Beyonce, not as a member of the Royal Family.

‘You have to remember that for the Royal Family in this country we have a social contract, they give us and in return, we support them, financially and emotionally.

‘What the impression you get with Meghan Markle at the moment, unfortunately, is that she doesn’t want to do the hard yard.

‘She is happy turning up at London fashion week, she is happy going on the stage of Hamilton.

‘Can she do it in the provinces on a wet Wednesday in November? You get the impression that she doesn’t really want to.

‘It is that kind of LA, behind high gates home keep to keep the public out. You had it with Archie’s Christening, that not being made public and with the Godparents not being made public.

‘You have the debacle at Wimbledon where she had to ask her security guards to tell people to not take photographs of her.

‘The discussion last week from Palace staff about not approaching her and Harry or petting their dog when they are out and about in Windsor.

‘All of this gives a sense, a bit unfairly, that she is in it for the celebrity, that she sees herself as an A-lister.

‘So choosing at this moment to edit a fashion magazine is a mistake and choosing to do it this way, as Robert mentioned before she is choosing political figures.

‘She is politicising the Royal Family and I think that goes too far and is unwise.’

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.’   

She 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 Duchess beams as she stands alongside Vogue's editor-in-chief Edward Enninful

The Duchess beams as she stands alongside Vogue’s editor-in-chief Edward Enninful 

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.’

Some royal fans expressed concern at the edition with a number of Twitter users commenting that it is 'absolutely awful'

Some royal fans expressed concern at the edition with a number of Twitter users commenting that it is ‘absolutely awful’

Meghan’s royal engagements during pregnancy 

October 15: Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced Meghan was pregnant with her first child

October 16-October 31: Meghan and Harry undertook official royal visit to Australia, Fiji, the Kingdom of Tonga, and New Zealand

November 2: Returned to England

November 13: Pair attended a Commemorative Dinner for the African Parks Network – of which Harry is president – at Kensington Palace

November 15: Duke and Duchess visited BBC Broadcasting House in London with members of the Royal Foundation Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying.

Also attended a Mental Health Innovation volunteers’ workshop at BBC Studioworks

Then joined the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for an official dinner at Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square

November 19: Meghan and Harry attended the Royal Variety Performance 

November 21: Duchess of Sussex opened the Hubb Community Kitchen in London

December 6: Attended a board meeting for the Royal Foundation alongside her husband and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge 

December 10: Attended British Fashion Council Awards at the Royal Albert Hall

December 11: Duke and and Duchess of Sussex attended board meeting in London for The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust

December 12: Duchess hosted Rufus Norris, Artistic Director of the National Theatre, at Clarence House

December 18: Attended a Reception at Buckingham Palace for the Royal Foundation alongside the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and her husband

Earlier in the day, she visited the Royal Variety Charity in Twickenham

December 20: Visited the Hubb Community Kitchen

January 10: Visited Smart Works, St. Charles Hospital, London

January 14: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited Birkenhead

January 16: The Duchess of Sussex, Patron, visited Mayhew, Trenmar Gardens, London 

In the evening, the couple attended the Première of Cirque du Soleil ‘Totem’ at the Royal Albert Hall 

January 21: Duchess received Jacinda Ardern MP, Prime Minister of New Zealand

January 23: Attended the judging of the Endeavour Fund Awards at Kensington Palace with her husband and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

January 30: Visited the Royal National Theatre, South Bank

January 31: Attended reception by the Association of Commonwealth Universities at City, University of London

February 1: Duke and Duchess of Sussex re-opened renovated theatre foyer at Bristol Old Vic

February 7: Attended the Endeavour Fund Awards at Drapers’ Hall, London 

February 24-26: Duke and Duchess touched down for three-day visit in Morocco 

March 8: Attended Queen’s Commonwealth Trust Panel Meeting to mark International Women’s Day at King’s College London

March 12: Received Dr. Joanna Newman, Chief Executive and Secretary General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities

March 22: Meeting at Smart Works, St. Charles Hospital, London 

July 6: Baptism of baby Archie 

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.’ 

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.

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

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

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

Greta Thunberg, 16. Swedish climate change activist

Jameela Jamil, 33

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

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

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

7: You!

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

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

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

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

Christy Turlington Burns, 50

Salma Hayek Pinault, 52. Actress, producer and activist

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

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

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

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.’ 

Diana featured on the Vogue cover three times

Meghan is not the first royal to appear in British Vogue, with sister-in-law Kate appearing on the front cover in June 2016

Meghan is not the first royal to appear in British Vogue, with sister-in-law Kate appearing on the front cover in June 2016 (pictured)

‘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.

Kensington Palace has been contacted for comment.  

Somali-born boxer who features on Meghan’s Vogue cover fled civil war before becoming a British champion – and kept her sport a secret from her strict Muslim family

By Hayley Richardson for MailOnline 

Somali boxer Ramla Ali has been a fighter all her life.

Having fled her home country’s civil war as a toddler, the 20-something – she doesn’t know her exact age – went on to become a British champion, having kept her talent a secret from her Muslim parents for many years.

Yesterday it was revealed she is among the 15 inspirational women handpicked by the Duchess of Sussex to feature on her Forces for Change Vogue front cover in the September edition, which she has guest-edited.

Ramla escaped from her hometown Mogadishu, the country’s capital, in the early 1990s – the morning after her elder brother, 12, was killed by a mortar while playing in their garden during the civil war. 

Somali boxer Ramla Ali, pictured at the Serpentine Gallery's summer party earlier this year, has been a fighter all her life

Somali boxer Ramla Ali, pictured at the Serpentine Gallery’s summer party earlier this year, has been a fighter all her life

Speaking about their terrifying escape from the region, her mother Anisa Maye Maalim told the BBC: ‘We left behind our home, our papers, everything.

‘There were bombs and people shooting at us – they killed most of the people in our car.’

A nine-day boat journey to Kenya followed, during which many passengers on the overcrowded vessel died of starvation.

The family survived on UN hand-outs in Mombasa and eventually arrived in the UK where they settled in London, and Ramla – who at this point only spoke Somali – began her education.

Ramla was the first Muslim woman to win an English boxing title, having started out in the sport after her mother bought her a pass to an East London gym.

Ramla was the first Muslim woman to win an English boxing title, having started out in the sport after her mother bought her a pass to an East London gym. Pictured in action against Rachael Mackenzie in their 54kg final bout during day three of the Boxing Elite National Championships in May 2016 in Liverpool

Ramla was the first Muslim woman to win an English boxing title, having started out in the sport after her mother bought her a pass to an East London gym. Pictured in action against Rachael Mackenzie in their 54kg final bout during day three of the Boxing Elite National Championships in May 2016 in Liverpool

She was bullied at the age of 12 for being overweight, so initially began training in an attempt to shed a few pounds.

‘I stumbled upon a boxercise class. I was sweating, out of breath and I thought, ‘I love this’,’ she explained.

‘I just became hooked – hooked on the results I was seeing in my body, the confidence I was gaining and the friends I was making.’

Ramla, who is the daughter of an imam and one of seven children, kept her boxing a secret from her strict family, fearing they they would disapprove and find it ‘immodest’.

Speaking to BBC Sport Africa last year, she said: ‘My parents live in Bethnal Green [in east London] and the finals were taking place in nearby York Hall.

Ramla, who escaped the civil war in Somalia with her family as a toddler, said her mother Anisa Maye Maalim, pictured, didn't approve of her boxing, believing it to be 'immodest'

Ramla, who escaped the civil war in Somalia with her family as a toddler, said her mother Anisa Maye Maalim, pictured, didn’t approve of her boxing, believing it to be ‘immodest’

‘I remember giving my kit bag to my coach and saying, ‘I will meet you there later’. I said, ‘Mum, mum, I’m going out for a run, I’ll see you soon’ – and all the while, I was going to compete nationally. Those are the lengths I had to go to.’ 

While Ramla doesn’t wear a headscarf, her faith is crucial to her identity – she observes Ramadan, going through her rigorous training regime with an empty stomach when necessary – and was eager to keep her hobby under wraps for fear of disapproval.

Ramla admitted her mother never saw boxing as a potential career as they’d fled a war to have a better life in Britain and ‘get educated’. 

With only her younger brother let in on her secret, Ramla used to come home from bouts wearing sunglasses and a cap to hide her cuts and bruises.

On the eve of her marriage to her boxing coach Richard Moore (pictured) in October 2016 - four months after they began dating - her family rumbled her yet again and told her husband-to-be that the marriage wouldn't go ahead unless he stopped Ramla from fighting

On the eve of her marriage to her boxing coach Richard Moore (pictured) in October 2016 – four months after they began dating – her family rumbled her yet again and told her husband-to-be that the marriage wouldn’t go ahead unless he stopped Ramla from fighting

She would own up on the odd occasion she was found out and promised to call it quits – which she did at one point, for six months, until ‘the itch came back’.

‘It was an intervention,’ Ali told the Guardian. ‘I’d hidden it for so long… And then I stopped, for a really long time.’

On the eve of her marriage to her boxing coach Richard Moore in October 2016 – four months after they began dating – her family rumbled her yet again and told her husband-to-be that the marriage wouldn’t go ahead unless he stopped Ramla from fighting. 

He agreed – despite having no intention of doing so – explaining that he wanted them to be happy with the marriage but also see his wife achieve her goals.

She went on to win the England Boxing Elite National Championships – adding to her 2015 Novice national championships title. 

Ramla now has her sights firmly set on the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, where she would represent her home country of Somalia

Ramla now has her sights firmly set on the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, where she would represent her home country of Somalia

Ramla then successfully represent England at the European Women’s Boxing Championships the following month before winning the Great British Elite Championships in December 2016. 

Her success at these major amateur tournaments made her, for a short period, the best amateur boxer in the country in her weight division, which was 54kg then and 57kg now.

Last year she became a Nike athlete, joining the likes of Serena Williams, Mo Farah and Simone Biles.  

Speaking about his wife’s talent, Richard told the Guardian: ‘She can think under immense amounts of stress and pressure – and still succeed. That probably comes from her background, seeing so much trauma, and being able to manage a situation under mental pressure.’ 

Ramla became the first boxer in history to have represented Somalia in the Women's World Championships, held in New Delhi, India in 2018. Pictured beside her husband and coach Richard Moore

Ramla became the first boxer in history to have represented Somalia in the Women’s World Championships, held in New Delhi, India in 2018. Pictured beside her husband and coach Richard Moore

Last year Ramla decided to represent Somalia and has since helped set up the country’s boxing federation in Mogadishu – of which her husband is the national coach.

She became the first boxer in history to have represented Somalia in the Women’s World Championships, held in New Delhi, India in 2018. 

Ramla now has her sights firmly set on the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo where, should she qualify, she will become the first boxer of any gender to represent Somalia. Her home country only sent two athletes to the 2016 Rio Games. 

She identifies as both British and Somali, having always been told by her mother to be proud of her heritage. Despite pledging sporting allegiance to her home nation, Ramla said Britain is the ‘only home I’ve ever known’.

Ramla, pictured following her win against Rachael Mackenzie in their 54kg final bout during day three of the Boxing Elite National Championships in May 2016 in Liverpool

Ramla, pictured following her win against Rachael Mackenzie in their 54kg final bout during day three of the Boxing Elite National Championships in May 2016 in Liverpool

Ramla said her mum is now 'really supportive' of her boxing, which is a huge relief to her and an 'incredible feeling' - though some of her older siblings remain unconvinced

Ramla said her mum is now ‘really supportive’ of her boxing, which is a huge relief to her and an ‘incredible feeling’ – though some of her older siblings remain unconvinced

Thankfully most of her close family have now embraced her boxing passion – after an interview with Somali TV changed their outlook.

An uncle who was watching told Ramla how ‘proud’ he was of her achievements and said it broke his heart that she’d been doing it in secret.

He promised to tell her mother it was a ‘good thing’, and that, coupled with the positive impact her boxing could have on her wartorn homeland, won her parent’s approval.

Ramla said her mum is now ‘really supportive’, which is a huge relief to her and an ‘incredible feeling’ – though some of her older siblings remain unconvinced.

Ramla is now raising funds to bring the Botswana boxing team - who welcomed her on her recent trip - to the UK for a week of training ahead of the All Africa Games in Morocco between August 19-31

Ramla is now raising funds to bring the Botswana boxing team – who welcomed her on her recent trip – to the UK for a week of training ahead of the All Africa Games in Morocco between August 19-31

The sportswoman, who has more than 34,100 followers on Instagram, regularly receives messages of support from the Somali community, thanking her bringing a positive light to their country.  

Giving something back is clearly high on Ramla’s agenda. On Tuesdays she teaches self-defence to a group of Muslim women in Vauxhall, south London.

‘They don’t usually have a space to train. Especially the stricter ones, who won’t take their scarves off in a normal gym environment,’ she told the Guardian.    

Ramla, pictured with the WBO WBC World Champion Dina Thorslund, wants to encourage women to pursue their dreams despite what other people might say or think

Ramla, pictured with the WBO WBC World Champion Dina Thorslund, wants to encourage women to pursue their dreams despite what other people might say or think

She is also all too aware that many African boxers who train in their home nations aren’t adequately represented at the top flight of boxing. 

Ramla is now raising funds to bring the Botswana boxing team – who welcomed her on her recent trip – to the UK for a week of training ahead of the All Africa Games in Morocco between August 19-31. 

‘The thing that sets them apart from other countries is not their skill,’ she told Time.

‘It’s just the fact that they don’t have the same opportunities.’

Meghan may have heard about Ramla, pictured on her wedding day, through Vogue's editor Edward Enninful, whom the boxer recently thanked on social media for a night out at one of the UK's starriest events, the Serpentine Gallery's summer party

Meghan may have heard about Ramla, pictured on her wedding day, through Vogue’s editor Edward Enninful, whom the boxer recently thanked on social media for a night out at one of the UK’s starriest events, the Serpentine Gallery’s summer party

She added that she is keen to put out the message that women shouldn’t be deterred from following their dreams just because someone told them it’s ‘not what a girl should do’.

‘Just do what makes you happy,’ she said.

Meghan may have heard about Ramla through Vogue’s editor Edward Enninful, whom the boxer recently thanked on social media for a night out at one of the UK’s starriest events, the Serpentine Gallery’s summer party. 



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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