While she was preparing for the, Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, was also busy guest editing the September issue of British Vogue. is the first-ever guest editor of the British edition of what's considered the fashion bible's most important issue.
Buckingham Palace announced on Sunday that the duchess, who is still on maternity leave after giving birth to her first child in May, used her rare opportunity to focus on women who break barriers. The magazine issue is entitled, "Forces for Change."
"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," the magazine's editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, said of the historic collaboration. "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."
The edition features 15 women who are "each driving impact and raising the bar for equality, kindness, justice and open mindedness." The duchess decided that the 16th spot on the magazine's cover will feature a mirror, so that the reader can be included to "encourage them to use their own platforms to effect change."
"In formulating the content of the Forces for Change issue, I knew that I wanted to create a magazine that would speak not just to where we are, but to where we hope to be," the duchess wrote for Vogue. "Throughout these pages you'll find Commonwealth designers, ethical and sustainable brands, as well as features with designers not about clothes but about heritage, history and heirloom."
Unlike the late Princess Diana and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, who both posed for the cover of Vogue, Markle chose not to appear on the cover herself. She thought that would be a "boastful thing to do," according to Enninful, who describes Markle as "the real deal." Instead, he explained, she wanted to feature women who are "setting the agenda across the globe."
German photographer Peter Lindbergh was chosen to capture the leading women. "Peter sees beauty in real people, in real situations. He makes everybody feel their best," Enninful said of the choice.
Lindbergh revealed in an interview with Vogue that the only instructions he got from the duchess were: "I want to see freckles."
This comes as no surprise, as in an interview with Allure magazine back in 2017, Markle remarked, "To this day, my pet peeve is when my skin tone is changed and my freckles are airbrushed out of a photo shoot."
The 15 women highlighted are:
- Adwoa Aboah – Mental health campaigner and model
- Adut Akech – Model and former refugee
- Ramla Ali – Boxer and former refugee
- Jacinda Ardern – Prime Minister of New Zealand
- Sinead Burke – Diversity advocate and lecturer
- Gemma Chan – Campaigner and actor
- – LGBTQIA+ advocate, actor and producer
- Jane Fonda – Campaigner and actor
- Salma Hayek Pinault – Women's rights advocate, actor and producer
- Francesca Hayward – Royal Ballet principal dancer
- Jameela Jamil – Body positivity advocate and actor
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Author
- Yara Shahidi – Founder of Eighteen x 18 and actor
- – Climate change campaigner and student
- Christy Turlington Burns – Founder of Every Mother Counts and model
The issue also features a candid conversation between Meghan and former first lady Michelle Obama, in which the duo discuss motherhood, reflect on their younger selves, and offer insight into the advice Mrs. Obama gives her daughters. The issue also includes an interview conducted by Meghan's husband, Prince Harry, with renowned primatologist discussing how we can better look after the natural world.
Enninful says the collaboration came to fruition when the duchess reached out to him in January. After meeting over a cup of mint tea to exchange ideas, she texted Enninful asking if he would consider co-editing a special issue of Vogue with her.
The September issue of British Vogue is available starting Friday, August 2.