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 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.’