Meghan Markle may be one of the most well known faces in the world, but that didn’t stop her from coming over all starstruck when she sat down with activist Gloria Steinem for a conversation about women’s rights, representation, and the importance of voting.
The 39-year-old Duchess of Sussex appeared overwhelmed with excitement at points during her ‘backyard chat’ with Gloria, 86, which was filmed last month for Makers Women, a women’s empowerment platform that will stream the Q&A in full on Wednesday.
However, in a short teaser clip that was posted on social media on Tuesday afternoon, viewers get a glimpse at Meghan and Gloria together, looking totally at east while relaxing in wooden deck chairs in a lush yard.
Teaming up: Meghan Markle – and her beloved dogs – sat down for a ‘backyard chat’ with activist Gloria Steinem (pictured) during which they discussed voting and women’s rights
At one point, the pair are even joined by Meghan’s beloved dogs, black Labrador Pula, and rescue beagle Guy, who happily wandered into the camera shot during the chat, and lay down at the Duchess’s feet while she continued chatting with Gloria.
‘[The dog] wants to be on camera,’ Gloria jokes while gesturing at Pula, who Meghan and Harry adopted together in 2018, shortly after they tied the knot. The Duchess of Sussex rescued Guy the beagle before she met Prince Harry and moved the pup to London with her back in 2017, leaving her other rescue dog – Bogart – behind.
The black-and-white clip – which was shot last month by filmmaker and photographer Matt Sayles – shows the two women sitting in the shade of a large tree, with a wooden table placed between their chairs, which appear to have been spaced in order to comply with social distancing regulations.
Meghan certainly looks at home in the scenic surroundings, and at one point is seen checking something on her phone, and popping a straw sunhat on to compete her chic all-white look – a far cry from the multiple virtual summits and conference calls that she has done in recent months, all of which see her sitting down and staring straight into the camera.
She also made no attempt to hide her admiration for Gloria, gushing happily about how ‘great’ it was to be chatting with the famed feminist.
‘Today is a pretty great day, for me it’s a pretty great day,’ Meghan is seen saying to the activist, who shared her opinions about the upcoming election – and the importance of each and every vote – with the Duchess.
During the conversation, the mother-of-one – who moved back to the US with Prince Harry and their son Archie in January, expressed her joy at being back in her home country.
‘Meg, welcome home, I’m so glad that you’re home,’ Gloria said to the Duchess at the start of the clip, prompting Meghan to respond: ‘Thank you. Me too, for so many reasons.’
At ease: The Duchess of Sussex, 39, looked entirely at ease during the conversation – although she could not resist gushing about how excited she was to be chatting with Gloria, 86
While sharing the clip on Instagram, Makers Women described the conversation between the two women as a ‘historic backyard chat’, while sharing a few details about what Gloria and Meghan discussed.
‘Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex and Gloria Steinem discuss representation, why each vote matters and how all women “are linked, not ranked,”‘ the caption read. ‘MAKERS has an exclusive look at that historic backyard chat! Q&A to come tomorrow.’
Early on in the clip, Meghan makes an impassioned statement about women’s right to vote, telling Gloria: ‘People forget how hard women like you and so many others before you fought for us to be where we are right now,’ to which the activist responds, ‘If you don’t vote you don’t exist… it’s the only place we are all equal, in the voting booth.’
The activist, who was one of the most prominent figures of the Women Liberation’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s, goes on to focus on young women, telling Meghan that it is essential for the youth to vote because it is their future that they are deciding on – not hers.
The importance of voting, and women’s rights, are topics that Meghan has become well versed on, having herself spoken out at great length about the significance of the upcoming election as she moves to become more politically active in the wake of her stepping down as a senior royal.
Just last week, the mother-of-one made a bold plea to women across the US to take part in the 2020 presidential election, speaking out about the need for ‘change’ at an online voter summit, while telling participants: ‘If we aren’t part of the solution, we are part of the problem.’
Meghan made her stance on the 2020 presidential race incredibly clear when she addressed viewers at the When All Women Vote Couch Party – an online event organized by non-profit organization When We All Vote, which was founded by ‘her friend’ Michelle Obama.
Appearing as the opening speaker at the summit, Meghan expressed her ‘excitement’ at taking part, before telling those involved with the organization: ‘We need [your work] now more than ever.’
‘I’m really thrilled that you asked me to be a part of this,’ the mother-of-one began, adding: ‘I think this is such an exceptional time [and I am] happy to be here for my friend Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote, and to kick off the When All Women Vote Couch Party.’
Speaking out: Last week, Meghan urged women across the US to vote in the 2020 election, telling a digital voter summit, ‘If we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem’
Speaking directly to the volunteers and workers tuned into the summit, Meghan continued: ‘It is fair to say that we are all very grateful for your work because we need it now really more than ever.’
Although the Duchess of Sussex has not named the candidate that she plans to vote for in the election, she made it incredibly clear that she believes there needs to be a change to the current administration, warning summit participants that ‘there is so much work to be done’ before they cast their votes.
‘When I think about voting and why this is so exceptionally important for all of us, I would frame it as: We vote to honor those who came before us and to protect those who will come after us because that’s what community is all about and that’s specifically what this election is all about,’ she said.
‘We’re only 75 days away from election day and that is so very close and yet there is so much work to be done in that amount of time because we all know what is at stake this year.
‘I know it, I think all of you certainly know it. And if you’re here on this fun event with us then you are just as mobilized and energized to see the change that we all need and deserve.’
If we aren’t part of the solution, we are part of the problem. If you aren’t going out there and voting you are complicit. If you are complacent, you are complicit
The Duchess of Sussex then turned her attention to the 19th Amendment, celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote – while also pointing out the fact that women of color had to wait decades longer to earn that same right.
‘And as we look at things today, though it had taken decades longer for women of color to get the right to vote, even today we are watching so many women in different communities who are marginalized still struggling to see that right come to fruition,’ she said. ‘And that is simply not OK.’
She continued her speech by blasting attempts at ‘voter suppression’, warning the summit that it is more important than ever to ‘support each other’ and to galvanize one another to keep ‘fighting’.
‘When we look at the attempts at voter suppression and what that’s doing it’s all the more reason we need each of you to be out there supporting each other, to understand that this fight is worth fighting, and we all have to be out there mobilizing to have our voices heard,’ the former Suits star said.
Meghan then made a personal call to action to all voters, particularly women, to take part in the election, insisting that ‘if we aren’t part of the solution, we are part of the problem’.
‘We are obviously faced with a lot of problems in our world right now, both in the physical world and in the digital world,’ she said.
‘But we can and must do everything we can to ensure all women have their voices heard because at this juncture if we aren’t part of the solution we are part of the problem.
‘If you aren’t going out there and voting you are complicit. If you are complacent, you are complicit.’
Call to action: Meghan warned summit participants that ‘there is so much work to be done’ before the election because ‘we all know what is at stake this year’
Last minute addition: The mother-of-one’s participation in the online event was only announced on Wednesday, one day before it took place
She also encouraged people to focus on the bigger picture, insisting that individual issues are not the most important aspect of the election, but rather the need for an overall change.
‘I think when we are looking at all the diff ways we can engage, we can support one another, it doesn’t really matter what issue it is that speaks to your heart,’ she said.
‘Whatever it is, we can make the difference in this election, and we will make the difference in this election.
‘It is the countdown to the change that we would all like to see for the better for our country.
‘In the fraught moment right now we find our nation [in], exercising your right to voice isn’t simply being part of the solution, it’s being part of a legacy.’
Meghan’s appearance at the summit is the latest in a series of interviews and speeches that the Duchess has made in an attempt to become more politically active – having reportedly grown ‘frustrated’ at her inability to get involved in politics while she was working as a senior royal.
We can make the difference in this election, and we will make the difference in this election. It’s the countdown to the change that we would all like to see for the better for our country
Earlier this month, she confirmed her plans to vote in the 2020 election, while speaking to Marie Claire about the importance of voting.
At the time the Duchess also shared a poignant quote from New Zealand’s most famous suffragist leader Kate Sheppard, revealing that both she and husband Prince Harry ‘have referred to [her words] often’ for inspiration and guidance.
‘I know what it’s like to have a voice, and also what it’s like to feel voiceless,’ Meghan said.
‘I also know that so many men and women have put their lives on the line for us to be heard.
‘And that opportunity, that fundamental right, is in our ability to exercise our right to vote and to make all of our voices heard.’
She then shared a quote from Sheppard – New Zealand’s most outspoken suffragist leader whom Meghan has previously quoted – explaining that it is ‘one of her favorites’ and ‘one that my husband and I have referred to often’.
‘Do not think your single vote does not matter much,’ the quote begins. ‘The rain that refreshes the parched ground is made up of single drops.’
Meghan concluded: ‘That is why I vote.’
The former Suits star’s decision to speak out about her political plans marks yet another major break from royal tradition for Meghan; traditionally members of the monarchy are expected to remain politically neutral, and therefore do not speak out about their opinions in public.
Familiar! Meghan filmed her speech in the same corner of the $14.65 million Montecito home that she and Prince Harry appeared in during a video call on Monday
However, Meghan confirming to the world that she will be voting in the presidential election will come as no surprise to those closest to her – particularly after it was revealed by a royal source in January that the Duchess of Sussex was aiming to become more ‘politically engaged’ after she and Prince Harry quit their roles as senior royals at the start of the year.
At the time, an insider told the Daily Mail that Meghan had grown ‘frustrated’ by the fact that she was not able to be actively involved in politics while she was a senior member of the monarchy, and that she wanted to ‘take advantage’ of the freedom to share her opinions with the world.
‘The Duchess is said to be frustrated that she was forced to stay out of politics after getting engaged to Harry,’ the source said.
‘She has strong political opinions and will now take advantage of the greater freedom she has to express them publicly.’
Meghan did not reveal who she is planning to vote for the in the upcoming election – however, before marrying Prince Harry, she was incredibly outspoken about her dislike of President Donald Trump, branding him ‘misogynistic’ and ‘divisive’ during a talk appearance in 2016, shortly after he had won the election.
Criticism: Before marrying Harry, Meghan was outspoken about her dislike for President Donald Trump, branding him ‘misogynistic’ and ‘divisive’ in a 2016 interview after he won the election
When Trump made an official state visit to the UK in June 2019, Meghan did not join the other royals in meeting him – a move that some royal sources claimed was her way of showing her disapproval of the President, although officially, her absence was blamed on the fact that she was still on maternity leave.
However, it was revealed in November 2019 that Meghan had invited Hillary Clinton to visit her and baby Archie at Frogmore Cottage – the family’s home in the UK – where the two women were said to have enjoyed a ‘very warm, sweet’ meeting.
Meghan’s interview with Marie Claire is not the first time that she has spoken out about the importance of voting however; during an official visit to New Zealand with Prince Harry in 2018, the Duchess of Sussex marked the 125th anniversary of women getting the right to vote by once again quoting Sheppard during a speech at Government House.
‘The achievements of the women in New Zealand who campaigned for their right to vote, and were the first in the world to achieve it, are universally admired,’ Meghan said at the time, before going on to praise the country’s suffrage movement.
‘Women’s suffrage is not simply about the right to vote for women but also about what that represents: the basic and fundamental right of all people, including those members of society who have been marginalized, whether through reasons of race, gender, ethnicity or orientation, to be able to participate in the choices for their future and their community.’
Meghan then concluded her speech by sharing another quote from Sheppard: ‘All that separates, whether race, class, creed, or sex, is inhumane, and must be overcome.’
The Marie Claire interview is also not the first occasion that Meghan has shared her ‘favorite’ Sheppard quote.
In November 2018, during their official visit to New Zealand, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shared the suffragist leader’s words on Kensington Palace’s official Instagram account, while posting an image of Meghan cradling her baby bump while surrounded by giant redwood trees in Rotorua.
Along with the quote from Sheppard, the couple thanked the people of New Zealand for a ‘wonderful’ visit.