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Meghan Markle vows to continue the feminist fight

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Kayleigh Dray
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LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 09: Meghan Markle during a visit to Reprezent 107.3FM in Pop Brixton on January 9, 2018 in London, England. The Reprezent training programme was established in Peckham in 2008, in response to the alarming rise in knife crime, to help young people develop and socialise through radio. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The new Duchess of Sussex is going to smash the patriarchy – with the queen’s blessing, of course…

If you thought Meghan Markle was going to settle quietly into a life of domestic bliss now that she’s bagged her very own Prince Charming, think again.

Instead, the newly-appointed Duchess of Sussex has been given the blessing of the palace to use her position to fight the good feminist fight.

Shortly after her star-studded wedding to Prince Harry on Saturday (20 May), Meghan shared her official biography on the Royal Family website, which lists the experiences that helped shape her “lifelong commitment” to “social justice and women’s empowerment”. It reminds us that she, at the tender age of 11, successfully campaigned for a company to alter their television advert that had used sexist language to sell washing-up liquid. That she volunteered at a soup kitchen in Skid Row, Los Angeles from the age of 13-17. That she also established a program at her place of work to ensure that leftover meals from the Suits set were donated to local homeless shelters.

And, of course, the bio states that Meghan was the UN Women’s Advocate for Women’s Political Participation and Leadership – a position which allowed her to meet with female parliamentarian leaders in Kigali and visit a Gihembe refugee camp, where women were working on leadership and empowerment at a grassroots level.

The bio also states that Meghan worked with One Young World and World Vision, which saw her travel to Rwanda on a clean water campaign that would work to allow young children to continue their education.

She similarly visited the slum communities of Mumbai to learn more about the issues faced by the young women and girls who live there – and witness the work of the Myna Mahila Foundation, who empower women through access to menstrual hygiene products and employment opportunities.

“I travelled to Delhi and Mumbai this January with World Vision to meet girls and women directly impacted by the stigmatisation of menstrual health and to learn how it hinders girls’ education,” she wrote in a powerful essay for Time.com.

“During my time in the field, many girls shared that they feel embarrassed to go to school during their periods, ill equipped with rags instead of pads, unable to participate in sports, and without bathrooms available to care for themselves, they often opt to drop out of school entirely,” she continued.

Perhaps most striking of all about the bio, though, is that, high on the page, in a bold font, is a quote from a speech which Meghan delivered on International Women’s Day in 2015.

“I am proud to be a woman and a feminist,” it reads.

It is a quote that says much about the newest member of the royal family, whose decision to walk unaccompanied partway down the aisle of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle set the tone for an unconventional royal wedding.

It is also one which suggests that Queen Elizabeth II is ready to evolve and adapt with the times: as previously reported, the royal family had previously been banned from making explicit political statements – a rule which meant that Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was not allowed to wear black in support of the #TimesUp movement.

Of course, Meghan’s explicitly feminist royal bio will come as no surprise to her fans. After all, it is the sort of move which has earned her a place on Time magazine’s annual 100 Most Influential People list – accompanied by a glowing essay about the royal, penned by none other than Priyanka Chopra.

Of Meghan, Chopra wrote: “This ever-smiling, strong free spirit found her prince, fell in love and in turn made a cynical world believe in fairy tales again…

“With her, what you see is real, and what you get is a relatable young woman with her heart and mind in the right place. Her compassion, evident in the causes she supports, and her drive to break down stereotypes—obvious in her actions—will connect her to a generation in much need of kindness.”

Chopra added: “More than anything else, Meghan is an important influencer in a world that needs strong public figures to respect and look up to. People the world can be inspired by.

“Meghan, standing shoulder to shoulder with Harry, will be a princess for the people.”

We don’t doubt it.

Image: Getty

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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