Why Duchess Meghan chose these inspirational women for her guest-edited Vogue cover

Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle
(Image credit: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment)

This month, Meghan Markle makes a temporary switch from royal Duchess to magazine editor, guest editing British Vogue's much anticipated September issue.

The Duchess of Sussex joined the publication's editor Edward Enniful to shape the September edition - out Thursday 2nd August - around the idea of 'Forces for Change' - the name they have also given the issue.

With Edward revealing that Meghan shunned appearing on the cover herself, she has instead chosen 15 inspirational women from across industries to take their place as cover stars. The Duchess explained that she chose them to highlight how they're driving change across the world, in a variety of different ways.

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Meghan herself said, “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."

And of her guest-editing role, she explained, “Guest Editing the September issue of British Vogue has been rewarding, educational and inspiring. To deep dive into this process, working quietly behind the scenes for so many months, I am happy to now be able to share what we have created."

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It's the first time anyone has ever guest-edited the esteemed September issue of Vogue - but it's not the first time a royal has been involved in magazine publishing.

Back in 2018, Prince Charles joined forces with Country Life to help guest edit their November issue, while the Duchess of Cambridge co-edited the Huffington Post back in 2016. She's also appeared on the cover of Vogue herself, back in 2016, for their centenary issue, following in the footsteps of Princess Diana before her.

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So why did the Duchess of Sussex pick out the 15 women who feature on her Vogue cover?

On the Sussex Royal Instagram account, it was revealed that each of the women were, and have been, "raising the bar for quality, kindness, justice and open mindedness."

Adwoa Aboah

In the top left-hand corner of the cover, Duchess Meghan chose Adwoa Aboah, a 27-year-old model. She's done some important work with Gurls Talk, an online community for young women to discuss issues that affect them - such as relationships, education, mental health and self-care.

Christy Turlington Burns

Christy Turlington Burns also appears in the magazine, as the founder of the non-profit organisation Every Mother Counts, which is "dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere."

If you want, you can get involved with the organisation on the 'What can I do?' section of their website.

Adut Akech

Model Adut Akech, who was a child refugee herself, works with the United States High Commissioner for Refugees.

Gemma Chan

Actress Gemma Chan is one of the 15 women on the cover, and has campaigned against sexual harrassment in the film industry in the 'Time's Up' campaign. She's also been breaking down barriers around race in film, and the 'rules' over who can play whom. In Allure magazine back in April, she said, “Why are actors of color, who have fewer opportunities anyway, only allowed to play their own race? And sometimes they’re not even allowed to play their own race."

Francesca Hayward

And Francesca Hayward is a Kenyan born British ballerina, and at just 27 has won the title of Royal Ballet principal dancer. She'll also be starring in the upcoming Cats film, which will be out later this year.

Jane Fonda

(Image credit: Getty Images for Netflix)

Perhaps one of the most well-known names and faces on the cover is Jane Fonda. While the 81-year-old is likely most well known for her acting work, she's worked on charitable initiatives for decades now. She runs multiple foundations focused around the arts, youth and education - and has championed environmental issues in the past, and most recently, gender equality and the Time's Up movement in the media industry.

Greta Thunberg

16-year-old Greta Thunberg will likely also be recognised widely, given her recent climate change and environmental activism. Greta has campaigned tirelessly for her causes, famously organising student sit-ins outside the German parliament. She is one of the youngest ever Vogue cover stars, thanks to Meghan.

Sinead Burke

Sinead Burke, from Ireland, was born with a bone growth disorder, and now campaigns for disability rights - especially, for equality in the fashion industry. She is currently working on her PhD on human rights education at Trinity College in Dublin, after originally training as a primary school teacher.

Ramla Ali

Ramla Ali is a Somali boxer, who is currently training for the 2020 Olympics. Back when she was a toddler, she and her family fled the Somali capital of Mogadishu during the civil war. She has already won the Novice National Boxing championship in 2015, as well as the England Boxing Elite National championships in 2016.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Multiple award-winning novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has proven to be a key voice in the subjects of feminism and race. In 2012 she gave a Ted Talk on feminism and gender equality, and has published essays on the topic too.

Yara Shahidi

Actor Yara Shahidi has been integral in getting young people to vote, having founded the creative platform Eighteen x 18 encouraging it.

Salma Hayek Pinault

Some other high-profile cover stars in Meghan's Vogue issue include Salma Hayek Pinault, the actress you probably know best for her film work.

But Salma is a passionate activist, and has long been raising awareness of violance and discrimination against women in America and beyond, as well as discrimination against immigrants.

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Jameela Jamil

Former presenter turned actress Jameela Jamila also stars on the cover, having become an outspoken voice of feminism and body positivity in recent years. In fact, it's not the first time the Duchess of Sussex has shown her admiration for Jameela's work - she and Prince Harry recently followed her other Instagram account 'i_weigh', which began as an homage to all the other important parts of a woman's life and personality aside from her weight or the number on the scales.

You can share your own story on social media with Jameela for a chance to get involved in I Weigh.

Laverne Cox

Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox is also featured - she was the first transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy back in 2014, and has spoken on transgender rights passionately for years.

Jacinda Ardern

A close friend of Meghan and Harry's is the final cover star - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The couple met Jacinda on their tour of New Zealand late last year, and have remained in touch ever since. Jacinda is the youngest ever world leader, having become PM at 37. She is also the first leader in modern history to have given birth while in office - she welcomed her daughter back in June 2018.

The 16th spot on the cover is of a mirror, in which you can see your reflection if you hold the cover up. In Vogue's words, it was created, "to show how you, the reader, are part of this extraordinary moment in time – and to encourage you to use your own platform to bring change."

Within the magazine readers can also find an interview Meghan has conduced with former First Lady Michelle Obama, while her husband Prince Harry has spoken to Dr Jane Goodall for the issue.

It'll also include articles penned by various inspirational figures, including Jameela and author Brene Brown. We can't wait to have a read...

Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist specialising in homes, interiors and hobbies. She began her career working as the features assistant at woman&home magazine, before moving over to the digital side of the brand where she eventually became the Lifestyle Editor up until January 2022. Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards in 2019 for her work on womanandhome.com.