Why Meghan Markle left herself off the British Vogue cover she guest-edited

Danielle Stacey
Royal Correspondent
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Patron of Smart Works, is pictured in the workroom of the Smart Works London office, wearing a Gucci dress [Photo: Getty/@SussexRoyal]

The Duchess of Sussex has become the first person to guest-edit a September issue of British Vogue, but she’s not featured on the cover.

Instead Meghan, 37, has chosen 15 ‘trailblazing’ women, who have made an impact within their fields, their values and campaigns, which include New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern, women’s advocate and actor Salma Hayek and body positivity advocate and actor Jameela Jamil.

It was previously thought that the royal would take part in a photoshoot at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor (the home she shares with Prince Harry), but instead she wanted “to focus on the women she admires.”

British Vogue’s editor-in-chief Edward Enninful said of the duchess: “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.”

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The cover of British Vogue's September issue, entitled "Forces for Change", showing photographs by Peter Lindbergh, which is guest edited by the Duchess of Sussex. [Photo: Peter Lindbergh/Getty]

Enninful and Meghan began working together in January on the issue they’ve called “Forces for Change.”

The pair briefly appear in a behind-the-scenes video as the cover stars talk about their involvement with the project. Meghan, who was pregnant with baby Archie at the time, wears a sleeveless belted black dress as she and Enninful oversee one of the photoshoots.

The edition also features a candid conversation between Meghan and former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama and an interview between world-renowned ethologist and primatologist, Dr Jane Goodall and the Duke of Sussex. Harry attended her Roots & Shoots Global Leadership Meeting last week, where he spoke about the plastic pollution problem.

Meghan is no stranger to curating content, having ran her lifestyle website The Tig for three years, where she wrote about food, fashion, beauty, and travel, and profiled inspirational women.

The former Suits actress closed down the site in April 2017, just months before her engagement to Prince Harry was announced.

As well as the 15 inspirational women, there is also a 16th spot on the magazine’s cover to represent a mirror. Meghan wanted to include the reader so they could use their own platforms to effect change.

The Duchess of Sussex said: “These last seven months have been a rewarding process, curating and collaborating with Edward Enninful, British Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief, 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.”

The 15 women of British Vogue’s September issue:

Adwoa Aboah, Mental health campaigner and model

Adut Akech, Model and former refugee

Ramla Ali, Boxer

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

Sinead Burke, Diversity advocate and lecturer

Gemma Chan, Campaigner and actor

Laverne Cox, LGBTQIA+ advocate and actor

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

Greta Thunberg, Climate change campaigner and student

Christy Turlington Burns, Founder of Every Mother Counts and model

Royal cover stars

Princess Diana appeared on the cover of British Vogue three times, as well as the US edition.

The Queen posed for a series of photos with her beloved corgis, taken by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair, to mark her 90th birthday in 2016.

Former British Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman pulled off the secret of the year, when she unveiled the Duchess of Cambridge as the cover star of the centenary issue in 2016. Kate also guest-edited the Huffington Post UK for a day the same year.

Prince Harry took his turn as a model for Town & Country’s February 2017 issue and guest edited an episode of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Christmas.

Prince William featured on the cover of GQ magazine for their July 2017 issue, where he opened up about how his mother’s death affected his mental health.

Prince Charles was a guest editor for Country Life magazine last year to mark his milestone 70th birthday.

Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie made their cover debuts for Tatler, in 2005 and 2008 respectively.

Beatrice and Eugenie also starred in the September issue of British Vogue together last year, where they spoke about their jobs and growing up in the Royal Family.

Shop Meghan’s Look

Embellished Tweed Dress by Gucci | £2,295 | Shop it here

The September issue of British Vogue is available on digital download and on newsstands on Friday 2nd August.

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