(Photo and artwork by Anya Thakur)
Liberty High School

Oprah Winfrey and Meghan Markle on history, legacy, and designing their own destinies

Meghan Markle’s life is seemingly a modern day fairytale. From an audacious 9-year-old girl with curly hair and a willingness to speak out against what she saw as injustice in a Proctor and Gamble dish cleansing liquid advertisement implying that only women washed dishes and the callous comments of her classmates alleging it was a woman’s place, she’s now the royal family and the House of Windsor’s newest member as the Duchess of Sussex.

At the time, she wrote to kid’s news channel director Linda Ellerbee, powerhouse lawyer Gloria Allred, and former first lady Hillary Clinton as well as Proctor and Gamble, receiving replies from all and successfully changing the line. Since, she’s gone on to work with the United Nations as a women’s advocate and given a speech detailing the minor scope of impact she had at the time and the power of women to enact change on a global level.

“I am proud to be a woman and a feminist,” Markle pronounced boldly in the 2015 speech.

After the announcement of Markle’s engagement to Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson, UN Women issued a statement saying it “trusts and hopes that in her new and important public role she will continue to use her visibility and voice to support the advancement of gender equality.”

Markle is also a successful actress in her own right who’s starred on popular television series ‘Suits’ after graduating from Northwestern University, worked with World Vision Canada to help underserved children, and elevated the work of Myna Mahila, a charity which provides hygiene products to women in rural India and de-stigmatizing periods.

“Her greatest strength is her compassion for others,” said fashion designer and friend Misha Nonoo. “Much of the work she does is unseen by the public.”

Markle presents a radical jolt to the British ruling class as biracial and half African, previously divorced, and a proud feminist and women’s advocate who’s married to Prince Harry. Their union is a step forward towards desegregation of the monarchy, inclusion, and cultural acceptance.

As a child, she wanted a set of dolls, which came in both an African version and a Caucasian one, though she did not have a preference for either. When she opened her gift, as she wrote in Elle UK, she found “a black mom doll, a white dad doll, and a child in each color. [Her] dad had taken the sets apart and customized [her] family.”

She remains vocal about causes important to her, having asked for donations to Myna Mahila in lieu of wedding gifts, she and Prince Harry confidently wear the label feminist, and speaks out about the importance of listening to women’s voices. Her infectious smiles and passionate advocacy have been given an international platform and with it, the power to bring others up with her and show the potential of people of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds and allow them to see themselves.

“Meghan’s humility inspired me,” Myna Mahila founder Suhani Jalota wrote in Glamour. “I saw in her face that she was willing to learn and listen…Meghan told us that she would try to support Myna in any way that she could, and she has truly kept her word.”

And Oprah Winfrey champions Markle’s work and her journey, as well as her independence in paving her path.

“I thought immediately of the history, the legacy, the astounding moment Meghan Markle was stepping into,” Winfrey wrote in O Magazine. “And what it would take to be prepared for such a moment.”

She believes Markle will continue to do good through her new platform and has built this life for herself as the architect of her own destiny.

“The life she was leaving behind and the new world to which she was rising — all part of a destiny she helped design,” Winfrey wrote. “I can’t wait to see the goodness that will come from their union.”

Winfrey pronounces with surety the significance of their union and with it, shifting perceptions and new possibilities and opportunities for people to forge their own paths and believe in their abilities to effect positive change.

“Goodness that I know for sure will help change the way the world thinks about what is possible,” she wrote. “Even more than it already has.”