Vogue editor hits out at ‘racist’ criticism of Meghan Markle after Duchess of Sussex guest edited

Edward Enninful pictured at Pride In London Gala Dinner

Edward Enninful pictured at Pride In London Gala Dinner

Edward Enninful pictured at Pride In London Gala Dinner

The editor of British Vogue has hit out at ‘racist’ criticism aimed at Meghan Markle after she guest edited an issue of the magazine in September.  

Edward Enninful and the Duchess of Sussex collaborated on a special ‘Forces for Change’ edition featuring a grid of 15 ‘incredible’ women on the cover with articles commissioned by Meghan inside.  

Meghan faced criticism for not including the Queen and supposedly being too political, ‘left wing’ and ‘divisive’ with her choices of women.

Among those on the front page were climate activist Greta Thunberg; Laverne Cox, a transgender woman described as an ‘LGBTQIA+ advocate, actor and producer’; Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and ‘diversity advocate and lecturer’ Sinéad Burke. 

Mr Enninful, who was made British Vogue editor in 2017, told the Guardian: ‘Was the criticism racist? Some of it, yeah.’

‘Actually it was more than racism,’ Mr Enninful added. ‘I thought it was personal – attacking someone you don’t know, attacking her’.

Meghan said she hoped readers would feel inspired by the issue. The cover featured the 15 women with a 16th square resembling a mirror, representing the reader.

Mr Enninful was appointed after British Vogue, taking over from Alexandra Shulman, after the publication was criticised for a lack of diversity. 

Following the announcement, Naomi Campbell said she was ‘looking forward to inclusive and diverse staff’ under Mr Enninful.     

The Duchess of Sussex guest edited the September issue of British Vogue (Pictured: Jacinda Ardern, Salma Hayek Pinault, Laverne Cox, Jameela Jamil, Yara Shahidi and Gemma Chan, Christy Turlington Burns, Adwoa Aboah, Adut Akech, Ramla Ali, Sinead Burke,  Francesca Hayward, Jane Fonda, Greta Thunberg and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

The Duchess of Sussex guest edited the September issue of British Vogue (Pictured: Jacinda Ardern, Salma Hayek Pinault, Laverne Cox, Jameela Jamil, Yara Shahidi and Gemma Chan, Christy Turlington Burns, Adwoa Aboah, Adut Akech, Ramla Ali, Sinead Burke,  Francesca Hayward, Jane Fonda, Greta Thunberg and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

The Duchess of Sussex guest edited the September issue of British Vogue (Pictured: Jacinda Ardern, Salma Hayek Pinault, Laverne Cox, Jameela Jamil, Yara Shahidi and Gemma Chan, Christy Turlington Burns, Adwoa Aboah, Adut Akech, Ramla Ali, Sinead Burke,  Francesca Hayward, Jane Fonda, Greta Thunberg and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

Mr Enninful said that the controversy over the edition was not something he had seen coming. 

He said: ‘I was so engrossed in these women, and in the magazine. 

‘We were not trying to create an issue that was shocking – we were shining a light on incredible women, some who are not famous at all.’ 

The line-up of women included celebrities, politicians and activists known for championing issues such as diversity, body positivity, transgender rights and climate change.

But the Duchess was slammed by critics for failing to include the Queen in the magazine and for ignoring nurses, doctors, lawyers and teachers on the cover.  

Brexit Party MEP Ann Widdecombe told the Sun: ‘Royals have not only got to keep out of politics but they have got to be seen to keep out of politics.’ 

Critics also hit out at Meghan for ‘involving herself in politics’ and ‘considering herself more of an A lister than a member of the royal family’. 

A candid photograph released alongside the September cover pictures the duchess in the workroom of the Smart Works office in London

A candid photograph released alongside the September cover pictures the duchess in the workroom of the Smart Works office in London

A candid photograph released alongside the September cover pictures the duchess in the workroom of the Smart Works office in London

In a video posted to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Instagram, she appears alongside editor Vogue's editor-in-chief Edward Enninful

In a video posted to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Instagram, she appears alongside editor Vogue's editor-in-chief Edward Enninful

Here the Duchess is seen viewing the photos from the line-up of women she admires

Here the Duchess is seen viewing the photos from the line-up of women she admires

In a video posted to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Instagram (pictured), she appears alongside editor Vogue’s editor-in-chief Edward Enninful picking the line-up of women she admires

Ingrid Seward of Majesty magazine told the Sun: ‘The Duchess of Sussex has done a huge favour for the House of Conde Naste and rather less for the House of Windsor’. 

The Duchess, a former actress and avowed feminist, had initially been asked to appear on the cover herself. But Vogue’s editor-in-chief Edward Enninful said Meghan refused as she thought it would appear too ‘boastful’.  

Royal commentator Rob Jobson told Sky News Meghan’s cover was ‘right on and ticks all the boxes’, but warned against getting involved in politics by asking the New Zealand Prime Minister to take part.

In a video posted to the Sussex’s Instagram page, a visibly pregnant Meghan appeared alongside Enninful as they put the finishing touches to the magazine. 

The post says the Duchess spent the last seven months creating ‘an issue of inclusivity and inspiration, focusing on what connects us rather than what divides us.’   

She said she wanted to focus on the ‘women she admires’ from the ‘frontline of fashion, film, tech and wellness’. 

Meghan also selected content for the issue which, according to Mr Enninful, shows she is willing to wade into issues of ‘female empowerment, mental health, race or privilege’.

Meghan Markle’s Super Sixteen: Duchess of Sussex handpicked the women she admires most for the cover of Vogue magazine, and the list includes YOU 

Handpicked for her Vogue cover, they’re the women the Duchess admires most.

But she’s left one box blank to show YOU can be a game-changer, too. 

1: FROM CHILD REFUGEE TO CHANEL SUPERMODEL

Adut Akech, 19. Model. 

Adut Akech, 19. Model

Adut Akech, 19. Model

Adut Akech, 19. Model

As a child refugee, Akech moved from South Sudan to Kenya, where her family was too poor to send her to school. Aged seven, her parents emigrated to Adelaide, Australia. She became a model at 16 and calls Naomi Campbell her ‘second mum’.

CLAIM TO FAME: In 2018, she became only the second black model ever to close the Chanel haute couture show.

WISE WORDS: ‘I promised that I was going to make something out of myself; something really good that would make people proud of me, especially my mother. And that is exactly what I have done.’

ROYAL TIES: At last December’s British Fashion Awards, Meghan presented an award and Akech was nominated for Model of the Year.

Gemma Chan, 36. Actress and campaigner

Gemma Chan, 36. Actress and campaigner

Gemma Chan, 36. Actress and campaigner

2: RISING STAR WANTING TO END RACIAL PREJUDICE

Gemma Chan, 36. Actress and campaigner. 

The UK-born Oxford law graduate turned her back on the legal profession for showbiz. She made her breakthrough in the romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians and played Minn-Erva in this year’s superhero film Captain Marvel.

CLAIM TO FAME: Pole dancing with singer Celine Dion after this year’s Met Gala: ‘It was the best half an hour of my life.’

WISE WORDS: ‘You’re going to have moments of s**t, but pick yourself up, have a drink and carry on.’

ROYAL TIES: Dated posh comic Jack Whitehall for six years — he once poked fun at Harry’s ginger hair. She and Meghan share a passion for stamping out racial prejudice in the acting world.

Both made Vogue magazine’s best-dressed list last year, and use make-up artist Daniel Martin, who did Meghan’s wedding look.

3: TEEN WHO HOPES TO SAVE THE WORLD

Greta Thunberg, 16. Swedish climate change activist. 

She visited the UK in April, and addressed MPs at Westminster. Sparked a ‘school strike for the climate’ among students from 112 countries. Only travels by train and in March made the cover of Time magazine.

CLAIM TO FAME: Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize this year.

WISE WORDS: ‘Our house is falling apart and our leaders need to start acting accordingly.’

ROYAL TIES: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex used their Instagram account to follow Thunberg as part of their ‘monthly social awareness approach’ to their favourite causes.

Greta Thunberg, 16. Swedish climate change activist

Greta Thunberg, 16. Swedish climate change activist

Greta Thunberg, 16. Swedish climate change activist

Jameela Jamil, 33

Jameela Jamil, 33

Jameela Jamil, 33

4: DJ WHO’S AT WAR WITH FAT SHAMING

Jameela Jamil, 33.  

The Hampstead-born children’s TV presenter turned actor and activist advocates ‘body positivity’ through her I Weigh campaign.

CLAIM TO FAME: First solo female presenter of the BBC Radio 1 Chart show in 60 years.

WISE WORDS: ‘The next generation is f*****g done being excluded and looking up to a white straight thin version of what we are supposed to be. We’re done with the dinosaurs . . . and I’m here to kill the last of them.’

ROYAL TIES: Jamil’s I Weigh campaign was a cause the Sussexes chose to support on Instagram. Both women fell out with TV’s Piers Morgan, who accused Meghan of abandoning her friendship with him after she met Harry. Jamil described Morgan as ‘England’s biggest s**t stain’.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 31. Nigerian novelist whose 2012 TEDx talk ‘We should all be feminists’ has been viewed more than five million times

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 31. Nigerian novelist whose 2012 TEDx talk ‘We should all be feminists’ has been viewed more than five million times

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 31. Nigerian novelist whose 2012 TEDx talk ‘We should all be feminists’ has been viewed more than five million times

5: WRITER FIGHTING GENDER INJUSTICE

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 31. Nigerian novelist whose 2012 TEDx talk ‘We should all be feminists’ has been viewed more than five million times. 

She’s collaborated with Dior on a ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ T-shirt, and in 2016 became the face of Boots No7 make-up. Splits her time between Nigeria and the U.S. and designs clothes with local tailors.

CLAIM TO FAME: Her novel Americanah, about race and identity, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 2013.

WISE WORDS: ‘I am angry. Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice. We should all be angry.’

ROYAL TIES: Both were invited to a private discussion with Michelle Obama at London’s Southbank Centre. She has said Meghan should be the next Head of the Commonwealth after the Queen, not Prince Charles.

6: MODEL & MENTAL HEALTH CAMPAIGNER

Adwoa Aboah, 27. Aristocratic supermodel and descendant of the Earl of Lonsdale, whose mother Camilla founded an artist management agency. 

Developed depression as a teenager, when she started taking drugs. After an overdose and stay in a psychiatric hospital, she is now a passionate advocate for the promotion of mental health.

CLAIM TO FAME: The chosen cover star for new editor Edward Enninful’s first edition of Vogue in December 2017.

WISE WORDS: ‘When you’re that unhappy, it’s scary, it’s dark and horrible.’

ROYAL TIES: Supports Heads Together — the charity Meghan and Harry spearheaded with William and Kate until recently.

Adwoa Aboah, 27. Aristocratic supermodel and descendant of the Earl of Lonsdale, whose mother Camilla founded an artist management agency

Adwoa Aboah, 27. Aristocratic supermodel and descendant of the Earl of Lonsdale, whose mother Camilla founded an artist management agency

Adwoa Aboah, 27. Aristocratic supermodel and descendant of the Earl of Lonsdale, whose mother Camilla founded an artist management agency

Meghan says this image — a mirrored panel — represents ‘a mirror to include the reader

Meghan says this image — a mirrored panel — represents ‘a mirror to include the reader

Meghan says this image — a mirrored panel — represents ‘a mirror to include the reader

7: You!

Meghan says this image — a mirrored panel — represents ‘a mirror to include the reader and encourage them to use their own platforms to effect change’. Whatever cards life has dealt you, the Duchess believes you are a force for change and are every bit as important as her chosen cover stars.

8: PM WHO HELPED HEAL NEW ZEALAND

Jacinda Ardern, 39. 

New Zealand’s Prime Minister garnered widespread praise for her sensitive reaction, which included wearing a headscarf, to the mosque shootings in Christchurch in March by a white supremacist, when 51 were killed.

CLAIM TO FAME: Became the world’s youngest female head of government in October 2017 and only the second world leader to give birth while in office. Her TV presenter partner became a stay-at-home dad.

WISE WORDS: ‘I never, ever grew up as a young woman believing that my gender would stand in the way of doing anything I wanted.’

ROYAL TIES: Met the Duchess last October on the Sussexes’ first royal tour and has said: ‘I think it’s wonderful to have a woman in her position talk so strongly about issues of women’s representation and empowerment.’

Jacinda Ardern, 39, New Zealand Prime Minister

Jacinda Ardern, 39, New Zealand Prime Minister

Jacinda Ardern, 39, New Zealand Prime Minister

Francesca Hayward, 27. The ballerina was born in Nairobi and moved to Sussex aged two to live with her British grand-parents

Francesca Hayward, 27. The ballerina was born in Nairobi and moved to Sussex aged two to live with her British grand-parents

Francesca Hayward, 27. The ballerina was born in Nairobi and moved to Sussex aged two to live with her British grand-parents

9: STAR OF THE ROYAL BALLET

Francesca Hayward, 27. The ballerina was born in Nairobi and moved to Sussex aged two to live with her British grand-parents. 

They fuelled her love of dance by giving her a DVD of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Cast alongside Taylor Swift and Judi Dench in the film version of the musical Cats.

CLAIM TO FAME: A principal dancer in the Royal Ballet, the highest rank possible.

WISE WORDS: ‘It sounds a cliché but when I’m on stage I’m at my most relaxed, I feel most like myself. When I have the music and costumes and everyone else around me, that’s when I feel most free.’

ROYAL TIES: Clearly, the Duchess admires the way she handles being asked about her race. Has said her background has never affected her career: ‘It’s only when people ask me what it’s like to be a mixed-race dancer that I realise that I am. I’ve never been made to feel different.’

10: SOMALI BOXER TO BEAT BULLIES

Ramla Ali, late 20s (Ali doesn’t know her exact age). Champion Somali boxer who arrived in the UK as a refugee. 

Bullied in her early teens for being overweight, she discovered boxing after her mum bought her a pass to an East London gym.

Ramla Ali, late 20s (Ali doesn’t know her exact age). Champion Somali boxer who arrived in the UK as a refugee

Ramla Ali, late 20s (Ali doesn’t know her exact age). Champion Somali boxer who arrived in the UK as a refugee

Ramla Ali, late 20s (Ali doesn’t know her exact age). Champion Somali boxer who arrived in the UK as a refugee

Became ‘hooked’ but kept her boxing a secret from her strict Muslim parents, who found out after her brother saw her competing on television. She volunteers for a charity teaching women self-defence.

CLAIM TO FAME: Training to become the first Somali to compete in Olympic boxing in 2020.

WISE WORDS: ‘Every day I am getting messages from people saying: ‘You are doing incredible things for our country, you are raising awareness for our country, a country that has been associated with war and famine for so long, so you are bringing a positive light to the country — thank you so much.’ ‘

ROYAL TIES: They may know each other through Vogue’s editor, Edward Enninful, who she recently thanked on social media for a night out at one of the UK’s starriest events, the Serpentine Gallery’s summer party.

11: CATWALK LEGEND CARING FOR MUMS

Christy Turlington Burns, 50. 

One of the original Nineties supermodels who shot to stardom with her campaign for Calvin Klein’s Eternity perfume. More recently the mother of two, married to actor Edward Burns, has founded Every Mother Counts, a non-profit organisation dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safer worldwide.

CLAIM TO FAME: Top casting agent James Scully hailed her as: ‘The greatest model of all time! You could combine every model to this day into one person, and they wouldn’t come close (sorry, girls).’

WISE WORDS: ‘Oh, I’m hardly stylish! I’m such a mess. I don’t think about what I’m going to wear; it’s the last thing I think about.’

ROYAL TIES: Naomi Campbell is a mutual friend and both are yoga fanatics. Once said: ‘Yoga is about compassion and generosity towards others. It means being mindful of the world around us.’

Christy Turlington Burns, 50

Christy Turlington Burns, 50

Christy Turlington Burns, 50

Salma Hayek Pinault, 52. Actress, producer and activist

Salma Hayek Pinault, 52. Actress, producer and activist

Salma Hayek Pinault, 52. Actress, producer and activist

12: FILM STAR WITH A SOCIAL CONSCIENCE

Salma Hayek Pinault, 52. Actress, producer and activist. 

The Hollywood star is married to French billionaire businessman François-Henri Pinault. She campaigns to raise awareness of violence against women and discrimination against immigrants (and has said she was once an illegal immigrant in the States after moving from Mexico).

CLAIM TO FAME: Breastfed a new-born whose mother couldn’t produce milk on a UNICEF trip to Sierra Leone.

WISE WORDS: ‘People always underestimate me. But if you stick around long enough, act out of conviction, and try to be honourable in everything you do, good things will come to you.

ROYAL TIES: Both used their acting careers to raise awareness for their charity work — before marrying men very far removed from Hollywood.

13: MADE FASHION MORE INCLUSIVE

Sinead Burke, 29. Irish activist born with achondroplasia, a bone growth disorder, which means she is just three-and-a-half-feet tall. 

A fashion fanatic, who would ask for copies of Vogue for her birthday, she started blogging aged 16 to highlight the industry’s inability to cater to disabled fans.

CLAIM TO FAME: Became well known after her TED talk ‘Why design should include everyone’ two years ago.

WISE WORDS: On disabled people in fashion, she says: ‘They’ve not been invited to the table to help make and share decisions.’

ROYAL TIES: Met the Duchess at a reception in Dublin, and was listed alongside her as ‘one of the 25 most influential and aspirational female figures in Britain shaping 2018’ in — where else — Vogue magazine.

Sinead Burke, 29. Irish activist born with achondroplasia, a bone growth disorder, which means she is just three-and-a-half-feet tall

Sinead Burke, 29. Irish activist born with achondroplasia, a bone growth disorder, which means she is just three-and-a-half-feet tall

Sinead Burke, 29. Irish activist born with achondroplasia, a bone growth disorder, which means she is just three-and-a-half-feet tall

Jane Fonda, 81. Actress, model and fitness guru

Jane Fonda, 81. Actress, model and fitness guru

Jane Fonda, 81. Actress, model and fitness guru

14: OSCAR WINNER STILL STRONG AT 81

Jane Fonda, 81. Actress, model and fitness guru.

The thrice-divorced mother of three has been a frequently controversial political activist — she was a staunch opponent of the Vietnam War, earning her the nickname ‘Hanoi Jane’ — and championed feminist causes, saying in 2017: ‘I’ve been raped, I’ve been sexually abused as a child and I’ve been fired because I wouldn’t sleep with my boss.’ Currently stars in Netflix series Grace And Frankie.

CLAIM TO FAME: A legend in Hollywood, she has won two Best Actress Oscars and been nominated several other times. Has also shifted more than 17 million copies of her legendary exercise videos.

WISE WORDS: ‘To be a revolutionary you have to be a human being. You have to care about people who have no power.’

ROYAL TIES: It’s not entirely clear — but Meghan did reportedly relax by watching a Jane Fonda movie, Book Club, on a flight to Canada last year.

15: ACTRESS AND LGBT ACTIVIST

Laverne Cox, 46. 

The American actress and transgender advocate found fame on Netflix series Orange Is The New Black and became the first transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. She says: ‘Most Americans learn what they learn about trans people through the media.’

CAREER HIGHLIGHT: The first transgender person to appear on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine.

WISE WORDS: ‘I am a self- made woman in every sense of the word.’

ROYAL TIES: A mutual distrust of President Donald Trump, whom Meghan has described as a ‘misogynist’. Cox says of transgender people: ‘The current President is trying to ban us from the military. Our unemployment rate is three times the national average.’

Laverne Cox, 46, actress and LGBT activist

Laverne Cox, 46, actress and LGBT activist

Laverne Cox, 46, actress and LGBT activist

16: SITCOM QUEEN INSPIRING VOTERS 

Yara Shahidi, 19. US actor and model who launched Eighteenx18, a movement to encourage voter turnout. 

Currently stars in hit sitcom Grown-ish — and studies at Harvard: ‘I have the great fortune of working with fabulous people who want me to go to college as much as I do.’

CLAIM TO FAME: Given a letter of recommendation by former First Lady Michelle Obama.

WISE WORDS: ‘My passion really stemmed from having gone through the 2016 election, where myself and many of my peers were unable to vote.’

ROYAL TIES: Apart from their early career trajectory on U.S. TV series, they share campaigning stances on racial prejudice. In a scene from Grown-ish, her character, Zoey Johnson, expresses her approval of Meghan’s marriage to Harry. ‘Good on Meghan,’ says Zoey. ‘Girl’s a princess now.’ 

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