On March 8 this year, Meghan Markle, 37, was named as the vice president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust. The role was announced on the same day as International Women’s Day. Following the news, the organisation explained that the Duchess would be highlighting their partnerships with young people across the Commonwealth – with a particular focus on their work supporting women and girls. On the same day, the Duchess of Sussex took part in a panel discussion to discuss issues women and girls face across the world.
During the event, Meghan spoke about why she felt particularly compelled to speak out on gender inequality via the platform that she has.
It came as she discussed her experience of getting the wording changed in a TV advertisement which had claimed “women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans” – as opposed to “people all over America”.
Meghan was just 11 years old at the time.
Earlier this year, she told how the positive impact she had in changing the commercial had prompted her to continue speaking out on sexism and inequality.
“It really set up the trajectory for me, to say, ‘If things are wrong and there is a lack of justice and there’s an inequality, then someone needs to say something – and why not me?’”
Meghan went on to explain that this led her to look to learn more about similar issues, across the world.
“Once I became old enough to travel, specifically to developing countries, and to see what was happening abroad, I think for me what really resonated was the lack of education for girls, and how that has a ripple effect on so many things.
“I think, it seems like a broad stroke and many people will say, ‘Okay fine, yes you want girls to have an education, you just want to have smart girls’,” she continued.
“[But] it’s actually much more complex than that, and it really does solve so many of the world’s problems when a girl has access to education.
“You know, you look at it and you could say, ‘Here are the vulnerabilities and the challenges that come about when they don’t have access to education’.”
Detailing some of these issues, she continued: “Early childhood marriage, susceptibility to trafficking, modern slavery, all of that.
“But equally, look at all of the positives that come out of it when you do have access to education for young girls: how it affects economic development, the GDP, billions of dollars on the table are lost by girls being pulled out of education.
“And so, I think when I look at it from those terms, it would be impossible for me to sit back and not do something about it.
“I think looking at my role that I’m very very privileged to have now with the QCT, just expands that platform, to be able to go to 53 Commonwealth countries and do this level of work all across the globe.
“Because, again, it is about global feminism. It is about a parity and equality for all of us.”
Meghan is not the only royal to use their huge platform to discuss feminism.
Recently, Princess Beatrice, 30, spoke out about challenging gender norms, and how she became aware of the inequality in the workplace.
In February this year, the businesswoman spoke at a Women4Tech business event, telling the audience: ”This started to make me think how working for a technology company I could begin to make a difference in challenging gender norms, especially when it comes to technology, an area that has a reputation for being a boys club.
“Empowering women is essential for creating jobs, growth and innovation.”
Who is Meghan Markle? Quick profile
Meghan Markle was born Rachel Meghan Markle, on August 4, 1981 to parents Doria Ragland and father Thomas Markle.
Her father was previously married to Roslyn Loveless and Meghan has two elder half sibling – sister Samantha Markle and brother Thomas Markle Junior.
Meghan’s first television appearance in the USA was in an episode of the medical drama General Hospital in 2002.
She later moved on to roles in CSI, Without a Trace and Castle along with bit parts in Hollywood films including Get Him to the Greek, Remember Me and Horrible Bosses.
Meghan was also a “briefcase girl” on Deal or No Deal – but her most famous role was as Rachel Zane in legal drama Suits, which launched in 2011.
She was written out in the finale of the seventh series when her character got married, which aired in April 2018 – just before she got married herself.
Charity and humanitarian work
Meghan Markle’s career in television has gone hand-in-hand with her support for causes close to her heart.
She wrote about the stigma around menstrual health in an article for Time magazine and was a Global Ambassador for World Vision Canada – with whom she travelled to Rwanda for the charity’s Clean Water Campaign.
And her commitment to gender equality has seen her work with the United Nations – receiving a standing ovation in 2015 for her speech to mark International Women’s Day.
In September 2011, she wed film producer Trevor Engelson, who she began dating in 2004.
But the pair divorced two years later in August 2013, citing irreconcilable difference.
She was in a relationship with celebrity chef Cory Vitiello for almost two years, before they broke it off in 2016 but the two remain good friends.
And in June 2016, she met Prince Harry on a blind date set up by a mutual friend.
Their relationship began in October that year and just over one year later, on November 27, 2017, the pair announced their engagement.
They married on May 19, 2018 at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
Some have claimed Meghan Markle is the first mixed-race member of the Royal Family.
Historians are still arguing about Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III.
But Meghan will be the first royal to openly embrace a mixed-race heritage.
She has written about the difficulties of being a biracial actress in Hollywood as she claims she is not black enough for some roles and not white enough for others.