“I am thrilled to reveal the cover of the September 2019 issue of British Vogue— and to introduce you to the bold, brilliant and inspirational woman who has guest edited it with me: HRH The Duchess of Sussex,” wrote Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful on Instagram, announcing Meghan Markle as the first co-editor of a September issue in the magazine’s history.
“For the past few months, the Duchess and I have been working together on this shared passion project: to dedicate British Vogue’s biggest issue of the year to all the remarkable women who are redefining our world for the better,” Enninful continued. “We have called it—and them—our #ForcesForChange.”
After featuring Rihanna as its first black September cover star in 2018, the 2019 issue features 15 female changemakers—plus a very special guest—personally selected by Enninful and the duchess, who reportedly conceived of the collaboration and concept while also preparing for the birth of her first child (with the entire world watching with breathless anticipation).
Surprisingly, the magazine was able to keep this major collaboration under wraps until publication week; the issue hits stands on Friday, August 2.
“To have the country’s most influential beacon of change guest edit British Vogue at this time has been an honor, a pleasure and a wonderful surprise,” Enninful writes in his editor’s letter inside the issue lauding the duchess, saying, “once in a while, someone comes along who exceeds all of your expectations. Let me say this for The Duchess of Sussex: she is the real deal – and an ultimate force for change.”
It’s also worth remembering that Markle isn’t entirely new to the writing and editorial game; during her acting career, she also ran popular lifestyle blog The Tig and also contributed to last year’s Together: Our Community Cookbook, benefiting survivors of London’s Grenfell Tower fire.
“As you will see from her selections throughout this magazine, she is also willing to wade into more complex and nuanced areas, whether they concern female empowerment, mental health, race or privilege,” Enninful writes, noting that of all the dynamic women featured on the September cover, there’s one famous face we won’t be seeing (two, if you’re expecting to see close friend Serena Williams).
“From the very beginning, we talked about the cover—whether [the duchess] would be on it or not,” Enninful explains. “In the end, she felt that it would be in some ways a ‘boastful’ thing to do for this particular project. She wanted, instead, to focus on the women she admires.”
So, we’ll have to hold out for that Meghan Markle British Vogue cover we royal watchers have been long awaiting. But the 15 women photographed by Peter Lindbergh for the cover are each a force for good in her respective arena, including:
- Supermodel and mental health advocate Adwoa Aboah
- Model, advocate and former Sudanese refugee Adut Akech
- Former Somali refugee and boxer Ramla Ali
- Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern
- Diversity advocate and lecturer Sinéad Burke
- Campaigner and actor Gemma Chan
- LGBTQIA+ advocate, actor and producer Laverne Cox
- Activist and actor Jane Fonda
- Women’s rights advocate, actor and producer Salma Hayek Pinault
- Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesca Hayward
- Body positivity advocate and actor Jameela Jamil
- Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Actor and youth vote activist Yara Shahidi
- Student and climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg
- Maternal health advocate and model Christy Turlington Burns
Though she’s not on the cover, Markle does make an appearance inside the issue, both in her guest editor’s letter and with an interview with forever first lady Michelle Obama. And husband Prince Harry also contributes to the September issue, conducting his own interview with primatologist and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall.
And then, there’s that mysterious 16th changemaker on the cover...
“For the cover, The Duchess chose a diverse selection of women from all walks of life, each driving impact and raising the bar for equality, kindness, justice and open mindedness,” read a tweet from the Sussex Royal Instagram account. “The sixteenth space on the cover, a mirror, was included so that when you hold the issue in your hands, you see yourself as part of this collective.”
But in addition to the mirror, the duchess’ influence upon this year’s September issue drives home the message that style is nothing without substance.
“These last seven months have been a rewarding process, curating and collaborating with Edward Enninful, British Vogue’s editor-in-chief, to take the year’s most-read fashion issue and steer its focus to the values, causes and people making impact in the world today,” Markle told Vogue. “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.”