During her recent appearance on The Lion King's red carpet, Meghan Markle had a particularly telling interaction with Pharrell, who collaborated with Beyoncé on music inspired by the movie. Footage from ITV shows Pharrell congratulating her and Prince Harry on their marriage, explaining that it meant a lot to him and others.
"It’s so beautiful, your union," Pharrell said. “I want to tell you, it’s so significant for so many of us. Seriously. It’s significant. We cheer you guys on."
Meghan's reply was also caught on tape: "Thank you, they don’t make it easy."
It's not clear who exactly "they" is but Meghan's words were the closest thing we may get to an acknowledgement that she feels acutely the glare of attention that is focused on her. And though she has been on maternity leave since Archie's birth in early May, the press and internet public have not let up. From coverage of the cost to the British taxpayers of the renovations to their new home Frogmore Cottage to the Sussex's decision not to release the names of their son's godparents, the scrutiny of every decision is intense. Even her recent appearance at Wimbledon set off a mini-flurry of controversy.
The Duchess's former career as an actress has often been framed as good preparation for her current role. But in new report from People, a source explained that the Duchess has not found life under an extreme microscope to be easy. "Meghan has struggled with the intensity of the spotlight," the source said. "Although she is a former actress, this is on a different level."
The specific nature of royal fame has likely made it even harder. Whereas in the past, as an actress, she could speak out in interviews or on social media as she pleased, Meghan has had to stay above the fray as a Duchess—even when tabloids publish incendiary reports, or people write hateful things online. "Meg has silently sat back and endured the lies and untruths," Meghan's former costar told People this past February.
In recent months, the Duchess has found an interesting way to reengage. She's returned to Instagram through the official account she shares with Prince Harry, @sussexroyal. And through some interesting social strategies, they've managed to set themselves apart from other royals.
Most royal accounts—the main royal family handle, Prince Charles and Camilla's Clarence House account, and others—showcase the royals at recent engagements, share sweet flashback photos, and celebrate family milestones. Harry and Meghan's does these things as well, but with an added layer of social awareness.
Each month, they use their "Following" list to showcase a different group of charities. So far they've highlighted environmentalism, LGBTQ rights, and mental health awareness. "It’s very much going to be a platform where they share the work that drives them and the issues that are important to them," a royal aide explained to Vanity Fair earlier this summer.
According to reports, Meghan is taking a similar approach in her upcoming collaboration with British Vogue. Different outlets have offered different predictions on the details—whether there will be a corresponding piece in American Vogue, for example—but everyone seems to agree that the project will focus on Meghan's charity initiatives.
"Meghan is going to write a piece on causes such as female empowerment and women’s education," a source told the Sun. "This is nothing to do with Archie, or family, or home life. It’s purely on women’s empowerment." A source for the Daily Mail reaffirms this, noting, "The spread in Vogue won't be a superficial photoshoot—on the contrary, she wants to use it as a platform to make a difference."
It will not be the kind of public communication she's used to, but Meghan may have found a way to use her voice.
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