Prince Harry and Meghan Markle finally put an end the pregnancy rumours on Monday night, with Kensington Palace announcing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expecting their first child in the first half of 2019. The announcement comes as the royal couple enters the first day of their 16-day tour around Australia and the Pacific region. Harry and Meghan are kicking off their tour in Sydney, starting at Admiralty House in Kirribilli, followed by Taronga Zoo and Opera House.
As the couple wed five months ago, Meghan was hailed as the unconventional royal women all over the globe wanted to see. Thirty seven, bi-racial, a divorcee. Yet Markle’s political and feminist history far outweighs the aforementioned labels, as the former actress and Suits star spent much of her pre-Harry life working with the United Nations and World Vision as a vocal advocate for women and girls. As she prepares to become a mother at 37, we take a look back at Meghan’s feminist credentials to date. There is no doubt a feminist will be welcomed into Kensington Palace in 2019 – regardless of whether it’s a boy or a girl.
She’s a proud feminist
Unlike some other high-profile women who publicly shy away from questions on feminism, Meghan has proclaimed she is “proud to be a woman and a feminist”. The quote, originally from her UN speech on International Women’s Day 2015, was included in her profile featured on the Royal website. They are more than just empty words. She’s a feminist in her actions, too. During her time in Suits, she fought show creator Aaron Korsh on scenes where she was the only character who wearing next to nothing. “In the show, for example, in this season every script seemed to begin with ‘Rachel enters wearing a towel,'” she said. “And I said, ‘Nope—not doing it anymore.'”
She’s a humanitarian
Since a young age, Markle has been involved in charity work. At age 11 she successfully campaigned for a company to change their television ad that used sexist language to sell washing-up liquid. Later in life, Meghan has continued her passion for social justice and gender equality. In 2015, she became the UN Women’s Advocate for Women’s Political Participation and Leadership, where she spent time in Rwanda. In 2016, she also became a Global Ambassador for World Vision, where she visited Rwanda and India. Her time in India inspired her to speak out in a Times op-ed about the stigmatization of female menstruation and how it hinders girls’ education.
She made a feminist statement on her wedding day
While tradition largely dictates the customs of a royal wedding, Meghan still defied convention by making a few feminist statements on her wedding day. She chose to walk part of the way down the aisle of the St George’s Chapel, only being accompanied by her father-in-law Prince Charles at the end. The “vow of obedience” wives-to-be often take, which some consider sexist, was also not included in the ceremony, and the couple were pronounced “husband and wife”, not “man and wife”. During the wedding reception, Meghan reportedly bucked tradition by giving her own speech.
She supports the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements
In February this year, Meghan spoke up in support of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements against sexual harassment. She chose a high-profile moment to do so, too: her first working engagement, celebrating the work of the Royal Foundation with Prince William, Kate Middleton and Harry. “I hear a lot of people speaking about girls’ empowerment and women’s empowerment – you will hear people saying they are helping women find their voices,” she said. “I fundamentally disagree with that because women don’t need to find their voices, they need to be empowered to use it and people need to be urged to listen. Right now, with so many campaigns like #MeToo and Time’s Up there’s no better time to continue to shine a light on women feeling empowered and people supporting them.”
Best Of Future Women
Your inbox just got smarter
If you’re not a member, sign up to our newsletter to get the best of Future Women in your inbox.