British Royal Family

Why Meghan Markle is so much more than Prince Harry’s fiancée

From philanthropy to calling Trump a divisive misogynist, the actress certainly isn't going to be a royal wallflower.

By Kate Wagner

Meghan Markle is a humanitarian, actress, feminist, UN advocate, active in politics… oh and she also happens to be Prince Harry’s fiancée.

And her activism isn’t thanks to young Harry, in fact, she started fighting discrimination before she was even a teenager.

At the age of 11, Meghan petitioned a soap manufacturer to change their tagline "women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans". After writing to both the company and then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, the commercial replaced the word “women” with “people” and Meghan has been challenging prejudiced norms ever since.

Humanitarian efforts

Meghan is famed for her work with refugees and poverty, but her social consciousness was instilled long before she was famous.

“My parents came from little so they made a choice to give a lot: buying turkeys for homeless shelters at Thanksgiving, delivering meals to people in hospices, giving spare change to those asking for it,” she wrote for Elle UK in 2016.

“It's what I grew up seeing, so it's what I grew up being: a young adult with a social consciousness to do what I could and speak up when I knew something was wrong.”

And that’s exactly what she did. She used the opportunity that comes with fame to become a global ambassador for World Vision and travelled to Rwanda to experience their clean water initiatives.

She also visited the Gihembe refugee camp in Rwanda and met with women leaders in the camp as an advocate for UN Women.

Political activism

The royal family’s role is to represent the whole country but also steer clear of politics – to side with one party or another could be catastrophic for the monarch further down the line. Meghan, however, hasn’t kept so quiet.

She was a vocal advocate to remain during Britain’s heated Brexit debate.

Pre-Harry, she was also a regular on political talk shows, including The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore where she called Donald Trump a divisive misogynist.

Fierce feminist

Unlike some women in power (looking at you, Julie Bishop), Meghan isn’t scared to be called a feminist and has focussed “less on glass slippers and more on pushing through glass ceilings” at every opportunity.

She fought the Suits creator on gratuitous scenes where she was the only one scantily-clad, ensuring her character was taken seriously as a woman as opposed to a sex thing.

"In the show, for example, in this season every script seemed to begin with 'Rachel enters wearing a towel,'" she said. "And I said, 'Nope — not doing it anymore.'”

She also urges women to not change how they look or act to fit somebody's else's idea of what a smart woman is.

“No matter what you look like, you should be taken seriously. And for me, I think it’s really great to be a feminist and be feminine – to be both,” she said on Larry King's Politicking.

At a UN Women event, the actress also pressed the importance of female involvement at every level.

"We remind women that their involvement matters," she said. "Women need a seat at the table."

"They need an invitation to be seated there and in some cases, when this isn’t available, well then you know what? Then they need to create their own table."