In an intriguing new interview, Meghan Markle reveals that she is not driven by the idea of winning the public’s affection in her role as a royal – instead, she just wants to get through to people.
Royal figures, especially women, have a long history of being revered by the public. Elizabeth I, one of England’s greatest monarchs, was hailed as “Good Queen Bess”. Nearly 400 years later, the late Princess Diana became known as the “People’s Princess” and “Queen of Hearts”.
But, fast-forward to a millennial age, and Meghan Markle is not driven by the thought of such adulation. The Duchess of Sussex has faced a wave of invasive and sometimes abusive press scrutiny since joining the royal family last year. And now she’s confided that the motivation for her role as a royal does not lie in winning the public over.
“She told me that she didn’t want people to love her,” the Telegraph’s Bryony Gordon reports, in a wide-ranging new interview with Meghan. “She just wanted them to be able to hear her.
“If I have learnt anything about Meghan in the time I have known her, it is that she is a doer, not a wallower,” explains Gordon, who accompanied the Duchess to Luminary Bakery, a London-based social enterprise that supports disadvantaged women through training and employment opportunities.
“She lives in the solution, not the problem […] I have found that this is what the Duchess of Sussex stands for: using her voice to help give one to people less privileged than her.”
In a world so often governed by hyper-awareness, Meghan’s willingness to distinguish between likeability and getting things done is refreshing.
In order to spotlight the voice of others, the duchess is keen to strike a tone of normality in her outreach work. By doing so, she aims to cut through the hype associated with her royal status and get to the nub of what ties her with the people she meets.
“One of the things I have realised since being here [in the UK] is that people have an expectation when I’m coming somewhere,” Meghan tells the women who’ve gathered to meet her at Luminary Bakery.
“So I’m like, let’s just be really relaxed, keep everyone nice and chilled, because at the end of the day we’re all just women. We all have a story to tell, and I feel honoured that I am getting to hear yours.”
As Gordon observes, this down-to-earth approach encourages people to open up and share their experiences with Meghan – even when it comes to difficult stories associated with issues such as homelessness, drug abuse and domestic violence.
“I find that when you strip all the layers away, as people, and especially as women, we can find deep connection with each other, and a shared understanding,” the royal feminist tells Gordon.
“Our lives may be different, our backgrounds, our experiences, all varied, but I find that in these moments of connection it becomes abundantly clear that our hopes, our fears, our insecurities, the things that make us tick… well, those are very much the same. And there’s comfort in that.”
Meghan and her husband Prince Harry have broken with centuries-old royal tradition by striking a more honest dialogue with the press and public at large.
Last month the couple made headlines with a documentary for ITV, in which they discussed the pressures they’ve faced in the first year of married royal life.
The duchess, in particular, has come under enormous scrutiny as she juggles a new set of official duties with a new marriage and a new baby (the pair’s son, Archie, is five months old) – all amid a deluge of unrelenting press coverage.
When broadcaster Tom Bradby asked how things have been for the royal, she said: “Look, any woman especially when they are pregnant, you’re really vulnerable and so that was made really challenging, and then when you have a newborn - you know… And especially as a woman, it’s a lot. So, you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed…
“[…] Not many people have asked if I’m OK,” she went on. “But it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”
The interview sparked the hashtag #WeLoveYouMeghan in support of the duchess’ decision to be open about her vulnerabilities.