The British press has it out for our modern Princess. It seems that the Duchess of Sussex can do no right. She has been condemned for crimes as shocking as revealing her shoulders at royal engagements, affectionately holding her baby bump, and not allowing coverage of the christening of her first-born son. Some members of the British media are fervent in their pursuit. Sarah Vine’s misplaced and condescending memo made quite clear her outrage engendered by the Duchess’s apparent breaking with convention. But to what avail?
From the outset, the Duchess of Sussex has had the odds stacked against her. An American actress on a tireless mission to tackle the world’s injustice and inequality. She is precisely the type of person the British establishment did not have in mind for the wife of their darling Prince. The impact of this reality came home to roost early on in their relationship, with Prince Harry furiously calling for the press to back-off after Markle had been in receipt of online harassment. Yet, throughout the hate and the criticism, the Duchess remains steadfast. She has upheld a sense of elegance, poise and grace – irrespective of the persistent critiques.
The September issue of British Vogue is a prime example of this. Carefully curated by the Duchess, it features a range of inspiring, diverse and empowered women. Each with real stories to tell. According to Sarah Vine, a primary fault of the Duchess’s editorial prerogative was that it featured a number of women that “nobody’s ever heard of.” However, the fact that the Duchess’s choice of women breaks with the mainstream is deeply refreshing. These women deserve a platform and the Duchess has offered up a small piece of her own to ensure that they get one.
With worldwide celebrity and a title to match, the Duchess could have made this passion project one of introspection. She could have given the critics what they wanted; a window into the lives of herself and her husband and their – rightly protected – newborn son. In order to satisfy those so ready to expose her, she could have paid homage to the Queen – a figure whom Vine dubs as the “one true inspirational woman” in the Duchess’s life. But instead, she chose to think bigger.
Ending her missive in a particularly short-sighted snub, Vine paints the Duchess as ungrateful, indicating her lack of understanding that “status and privilege are very real gems to be treasured.” I could not disagree more. The mere fact that the Duchess has selected a wide range of hard-working, refreshing and engaging candidates to feature in such a statement of solidarity is proof of her complete awareness of the meaning of privilege. By sharing her platform with others, she is using her status for good. It is not just the voice of the Duchess of Sussex filling these pages, but the voices of a collective of women who, like their editor, have changed the game. The Duchess’s edition will speak to a plethora of people, encourage a deeper sense of togetherness and foster a greater sense of community. Discounting the pessimistic voices of those who are – quite frankly – just a little bit jealous.