Meghan Markle has built quite the resume: television star, Duchess of Sussex, and now, the very first guest editor of British Vogue‘s famed September issue. According to editor-in-chief Edward Enninful, Her Royal Highness was heavily involved in curating the issue, which puts the spotlight on 15 “world-leading” women. She selected the cover stars herself (Selma Hayek, Jameela Jamil, Michelle Obama, and Laverne Cox are among the impressive group), conducted interviews, helped choose the photographer, and even insisted that there be no heavy photo retouching.
“My instructions from the Duchess were clear: “I want to see freckles!'” photographer Peter Lindbergh told Vogue about the New York shoot. This should really come as no surprise, as Markle has spoken out about the unrealistic standards set on women and has embraced her own natural freckles on many occasions. “To this day, my pet peeve is when my skin tone is changed and my freckles are airbrushed out of a photo shoot,” she told Allure in 2017.
The reveal of the cover is not only gorgeous, but an important statement about female empowerment. Entitled #ForcesForChange, it features 15 portraits of female leaders “who are reshaping public life for global good.”
Though there were discussions of including The Duchess on the cover, she ultimately decided “it would be in some ways a ‘boastful’ thing to do for this particular project,” Enninful explained. “She wanted, instead, to focus on the women she admires.” You’ll also notice that there’s a blank 16th slot. The publication stated that this is “intended by The Duchess to show how you are part of this collective moment of change too.”
“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,” Markle said in a statement.
The #ForcesForChange issue will be available on August 2.