Duchess Meghan interviewed ‘thoughtful, reflective’ Michelle Obama for Vogue

Here is British Vogue’s exclusive photo of Michelle Obama, all for the September Issue which was guest-edited by the Duchess of Sussex. Meghan also conducted the interview with MObama, except it wasn’t really an interview – Meghan just sent a short list of questions to Michelle and Michelle wrote out some thoughtful answers and sent them back. Before I get into that, let me just say… I think British Vogue should have held this MO piece for a few days. They stepped on their own newscycle by releasing it less than 24 hours after the cover dropped. The issue will dominate headlines no matter what, but I’m worried that they rushed this drop ahead of schedule because of the nasty reactions from the royal-reporter clique. Meaning, instead of just owning the week with spaced-out exclusives, British Vogue is rushing it out to change the headlines.

As for the MO piece, Meghan wrote the intro and it’s safe to say that she’s been writing the bulk of the SussexRoyal Instagram messages. Her writing style is pretty distinctive and it’s very… self-aware. And of course she talks about food. Meg is so on-brand. Here’s the intro, in Meghan’s voice:

In formulating the content of the Forces for Change issue, I knew that I wanted to create a magazine that would speak not just to where we are, but to where we hope to be. In doing so, I knew we needed to both open and close strong. Like a beautiful meal: the first bite sets the tone and the final spoonful leaves you satiated, smiling, and sometimes (if you’re dining under the direction of a forward-thinking chef) even inspired. So how could I bring this issue to its logical conclusion? How could I meet that very lofty self-imposed goal?

Turns out British Vogue famously has a back page Q&A feature that is equal parts informative and whimsical, with a special guest each month. My first thought was that it needed to be someone kind, inspirational, motivating, funny, with gravitas and as much depth as levity. My second thought: it needed to be Michelle Obama. So, over a casual lunch of chicken tacos and my ever-burgeoning bump, I asked Michelle if she would help me with this secret project.

It wasn’t a huge ask, so to speak, because the back page of Vogue comprises a few simple questions to garner a few simple answers – tidbits that would leave you, the reader, feeling all of the aforementioned sensations of this analogous culinary experience. She graciously said yes (because she’s Michelle, she’s gracious), and then very promptly sent answers (because she’s Michelle, she’s prompt).

What was sent back to me, however, left me somewhat speechless. A few “simple questions” (which she could have answered with a sentence or two) were returned to me as a thoughtful, reflective and beautifully curated narrative – a gentle reminder not of how but of why she has become such a globally respected public figure. Whatever your background, it’s easy to feel connected to Mrs Obama. There’s something magical about the way in which she draws you in with her endearingly frank, down-to-earth personality. When I heard her speak at London’s Royal Festival Hall last December, I found that I could personally relate to what she was sharing – and that the young British woman sitting a few seats away from me, laughing heartily and nodding in agreement, must have felt the same way.

I share all this with you as a disclaimer of sorts: had I known Michelle would be so generous in making this a comprehensive interview my questions would have been lengthier, more probing, more engaging. I would have called her and included the banter on these pages – the laughs and sighs and ping-pong of dialogue as I chimed in. But to re-engineer that now would rob Michelle’s words of their authenticity, which, for me, is at the crux of what makes this piece special. That authenticity came out of her innate goodwill to support another woman, to give more than what’s asked for, to be generous, to be kind – all of these attributes make her the ultimate force for change. To my former First Lady, and now friend, Michelle – thank you.

[From British Vogue]

Don’t say it don’t say it don’t say it… Meg could use an editor herself, huh? I mean, I don’t hate it and she totally knows her audience. Vogue readers expect these kinds of details and flowery language: “a casual lunch of chicken tacos” and “a thoughtful, reflective and beautifully curated narrative,” it’s like Vogue Readership Bingo. My concern going into this piece was that by interviewing Michelle, Meghan would put herself on the same “level” as MO or insinuating that they’re similar, which is something someone like Oprah does as an interviewer. Meghan does not do that – she’s very clearly putting MO on a pedestal and treating MO with the respect needed.

As for the actual interview, you can read the piece here in its entirety. Meghan asked about motherhood, advice Michelle has given her daughters, Michelle’s Girls Opportunity Alliance, and a few other interesting questions. Michelle is lovely about it, and it’s clear that she’s got her eye on Meghan and that she’s rooting for Meg.

Sussex Morocco Asni school

Photos courtesy of British Vogue, Avalon Red and WENN.

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46 Responses to “Duchess Meghan interviewed ‘thoughtful, reflective’ Michelle Obama for Vogue”

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  1. Rapunzel says:

    Eh, it sounds like your typical editor letter for a fashion mag to me. I don’t get the hate this project has instilled in some folks. The racism is deep.

  2. Croatian says:

    Yeah. Too many words in the way. I love the intention and I get what she was trying to say, but it’s too much.
    But! It doesn’t bother me because I get the feeling she wrote it like that to try to explain every possible word the press could latch on to and make it a “bad word, bad Meghan”

  3. Millennial says:

    I read most of what’s available on the Vogue website this morning and I agree she could say everything she said in about half the words. She’s definitely got a case of the purple prose.

    That said, I don’t mind? I kind of find it fascinating, because you get a sense of her thought process and her personality.

  4. OriginalLala says:

    I like it, mostly because it reminds me of the Tig, and it was the one lifestyle blog I ever read..

  5. M says:

    The words don’t bother me because it’s what I’ve come to expect from these type of editorials. I thought Meghan did a wonderful job in making sure Michelle Obama was the focus. I also love all of the advice given by Michelle. She really knows what to say to make you reflect and think in a positive way.

  6. aquarius64 says:

    I like the interview with Michelle. Former FLOUTS is definitely in her corner. The British press is going to drag Meghan no matter but the salty attitude is due to no access (although the editor of UK Vogue had no problem) and Meghan has powerful and not so powerful people that will defend her and push back on them.

  7. Mignionette says:

    Vogue released this early to ‘get ahead’ of the vile British press. This way they can set the tone and narrative a little before the usual suspects go in…

    FYI I also heard that they did meet and discussed many things amongst which Michelle gave Meghan advice for motherhood.

    • M says:

      I agree. They had to get ahead of the British press who are vile, hateful minions.

    • Lucy says:

      I don’t know how Meghan deals with the hate and vitriol she gets from the rags like the Daily Mail and its readers. It’s disheartening to think it’s all racism.

    • Lolo says:

      Meghan says they met, she also tells you what they ate (chicken tacos). It’s all right there in the piece, but congrats on your exclusive.

  8. Cidy says:

    I think she did a good job, it was a smart idea to send simple questions and let Michelle do the heavy lifting, she is eloquent and has a way with words. We didnt need long questions or a back and forth interview between them, I almost think that would be too much.

    But I do agree that there was a bit of a thesaurus dance going on, some of the sentences are choppy, some of them kind of feel like half thoughts, half statements. I think that she probably should have leaned on an editor a bit more, just so that things were more natural; but I can see why she wanted to take the reigns on this.

    But I do thoroughly enjoy this! Snaps the Meg and all the other folks who helped on this project!

  9. Loretta says:

    I loved the Michelle Obama piece. She and Meghan are two amazing role models.

  10. Harla says:

    Meghan writes as though she’s having a face to face conversation with the reader. Personally I enjoy that type of writing as it draws a picture that allows me to visualize events, people and situations as if I was there.

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      Im a writer and a blogger and that’s how I write. It’s the easiest way to engage your reader and to give an honest representation of your voice.

      • Harla says:

        What’s the name of your blog? I’d love to check it out!

      • Valiantly Varnished says:

        @Harla The Mod Woman! Thanks!

      • Harla says:

        OMG! Valiantly Varnished I just popped over to your blog and I swear I just found my happy place!!! I have been searching and searching for a great all-around blog, I had never heard of the Tig before it was shut down and I think I’ve found it! I just read your article about 6 real self-care tips and loved it!! I will be bookmarking your site and look forward to new posts.

      • Valiantly Varnished says:

        @Harla thank you! That means so much since that is exactly what I am going for with my blog.

      • Rebecca says:

        Thanks for providing the name of your blog. I found it and was drawn immediately to the 6 Real Self-Care Tips post, and then on to the others in that section. I must add it to my feed reader; it’s not often I’ve found blogs and the like with enough appeal to follow. Thanks again!

    • MrsBanjo says:

      Yes, this. I like how personal it feels.

    • EMF999 says:

      Totally agree. It feels like a cozy chat with a good friend.

  11. Taryn says:

    I am admittedly not a HUGE fan of some of Meghan’s writing style, but I think my attention span is just very short. That being said I am absolutely excited for this issue and will definitely be giving it a read. I really admire her for showcasing these amazing women, you can tell she put a lot of thought and hard work in to it.

  12. TeddyPicker says:

    If Meg ever decides to say fuck it and leave royal life, she’s definitely got a career as the second coming of Goop…. *munches chicken tacos*

    I wonder if she and Pippa swapped lifestyle blogging tips at Wimbeldon.

    • Enn says:

      She has good ideas but definitely needs an editor, both here and in her IG captions.

  13. Beli says:

    It’s very flowery prose, but in this context I don’t mind it so much. That’s editor letters in magazines all over.

    Love that Michelle featured so prominently and I agree that the news could have been spaced out, but I think that the disgusting British press may have forced their hand on that one.

    I do like how much work Meghan clearly put into this though. It’s obvious she was very involved and quietly so, behind the scenes. No fanfare for a year in advance of what she was going to do, she got in and did it and now we’re seeing the result. It’s the Together cookbook all over again.

    Luminary Bakery also posted on their instagram that Meghan sent them a handwritten note thanking them for their work and for taking part, which I thought was very kind and a small touch that will be remembered.

  14. Abby says:

    I’m a magazine writer, and maybe it’s just too early in the morning, maybe I just love these two ladies but I got a little teary-eyed. This was a lovely intro. I haven’t read the interview yet—will do it when I have a minute sitting down. But I appreciate an interview with shorter questions that allows the interviewee to do most of the talking.

    It makes me sad that she’s trying so hard to get it right, to be thoughtful, to do good with her position and influence… and she gets ripped to shreds at every breath for EVERYTHING. It’s an unfair and impossible situation. I would be so discouraged to be in her shoes.

    I’m glad Michelle is in her corner. I’m sure she has a lot of insight from her time in the White House.

  15. Lisa says:

    I loved the interview and Michelle Obama’s answers to the questions. The British press is vile and should be ignored.

    • BayTampaBay says:

      Piers Morgan has a personal vendetta against Meghan. Disgusting Piers Morgan will use every opportunity that comes his way to attempt to take Meghan down. This very disliked (on four or more continents) Piers Morgan person will use The Daily Fail and every other weapon he can get his hands on in his war against Meghan.

      • Citresse says:

        We don’t know for sure what happened there…it’s his word against hers but she’s not talking…so let’s look at the recent past: MM and her divorce, and others in her life… author Andrew Morton believes MM will use and discard….perhaps MM can inspire change for good in some way in her role as Duchess, however I do believe on a personal level she did not hesitate to coldly use others to get ahead and I do believe if Harry had been an average Joe from UK who had to scrimp and save for a holiday, MM might have accepted a few dates, enjoyed some time in the sack, but married him and have his children? No way.

      • Nic919 says:

        Piers Morgan was behind the phone hacking scandal not that long ago and Charles, William and Harry had their phones hacked. Piers got off lightly even after The Levenson Inquiry but it’s not like Harry would forget his role. There is no way Meghan was going to associate with a guy who exposed personal discussions of the royals. And that’s not including his obvious personal boundary issues.

      • Citresse says:

        If Morgan had that much involvement in the hacking, then why was MM so friendly with him?…I mean MM was meeting with him and disclosing a lot of personal information.
        However, I’m willing to give MM time right now, for goodness sake the woman had a baby recently etc…let’s see if she can inspire change. I’ll reserve judgment on that for at least 5 years.

      • notasugarhere says:

        You’re giving credence to Morgan and Morton. Says what I need to know about you.

        The Suits crew would been told to go out, chat up UK press, and get them to like you and the show. She did her job but it was always professional not a personal friendship like PM pretends.

        I doubt she knew about the phone hacking, how many people in the US really followed that at the time? Once she met Harry, learned what Morgan had done to Harry personally? Of course it was going to result in no further “play nice with Morgan”.

        Now PM is smarting from being cut off by Meghan (for good reason on her part), and being publicly smacked by Georgie Boy. He won’t take it out fully on Clooney because Clooney can smack back. Meghan can’t.

      • Citresse says:

        notasugarhere you don’t need to know anything about me…and Piers Morgan? I both agree and disagree with his statements about the royals. He works for the media, his job is to create controversy to some degree. He gets it right at times, but at other times he gets it dreadfully wrong.

      • notasugarhere says:

        You give credence and weight to him and Morton. That *does* tell me what I need to know.

    • celialarson12 says:

      Somebody called Piers Morgan a personality parasite. He is nothing himself but a troll, who clings to famous people with fake trolling or kissing their behind to make himself relevant. Best description I have read of this man. A journalist I would not call him.

  16. Whatabout says:

    I thought it sounded a bit Goopy. That’s my only criticism of the whole magazine.

  17. Becks1 says:

    I loved it. The interview/Q&A itself was lovely and personal, I love that Meghan seems a little self-conscious about the questions asked but in a sweet way. Its clear that she has the utmost respect for MO. And of course she and Michelle had lunch together lol.

    I did find the language a little flowery and over-done, but to me it reads like exactly what I said above – someone who is a little self-conscious and maybe even nervous about this project – and I think its more like she is talking to you face-to-face, when someone who is a bit nervous may become a bit longwinded.

    I do think that Vogue should have held this interview for a few days. I was REALLY surprised when I saw it online yesterday.

  18. Iknow says:

    The Daily Mail commentators really have no reading comprehension skills. There was some issue yesterday about how Meghan claimed she ate tacos with Michelle Obama, yet the interview was written. I clearly read that she asked Michelle to be interviewed earlier in the year when they met and the interview questions were sent to her at a later date. What’s so hard to understand.

    Anyway, I was completely fine with Meghan’s style of writing. I think an editor, without experience, could have squashed the personality out of it.

  19. Valiantly Varnished says:

    Doesn’t bother me at all. Stories like this usually have an editorial preamble. Hers was actually pretty sweet.

  20. MIchelle Obama knows exactly what it’s like to be in Meghan’s shoes. I am glad they have formed a friendship and hope it continues to grow stronger.
    I can’t say I’ve ever bought a copy of Vogue for the content beyond photos. I’ll Be finding a local Barnes & Noble for this one.

  21. Wilma says:

    Meghan is so right about Michelle Obama. When Barack Obama was elected, I actually felt like there were people like us in the White House now (but a way cooler and smarter and more gracious version of us). MO is relatable and inspirational at the same time and has lived the kind of life that enables her to connect to everyone.

  22. TheOriginalMia says:

    Meghan places Michelle Obama on the same pedestal she occupies in my house. She is beloved and respect and fangirled to the nth degree. So, Meghan’s editorial note is perfectly fine to me.

    I love the fact that Meghan interviewed her and that Michelle took the time to answer the questions in a thoughtful and instructive way. I also loved the glimpse we got into the Obama daughters’ personalities. We’ve watched them grow from little girls to women.

  23. Rhys says:

    So many here point out this flowery style is a typical magazine writing, but I thought Vogue was always more than that? Elegant and sophisticated, not chick-lity sweet and quirky?

  24. Well-Wisher says:

    I find the issue interesting and hope that it sells.
    Congratulations to the Duchess and happy reading.

  25. MissGiggles says:

    “So, over a casual lunch of chicken tacos and my ever-burgeoning bump, I asked Michelle…”
    This sentence suggests that she ate her bump for lunch.

    I’m a big fan of her work, and find the British tabloids’ relentless attacks truly disgusting, but Kaiser is right – she needs an editor.