Every Tuesday, the Duchess of Sussex releases an Archetypes podcast episode and every week, the British papers find something to scream and cry about. As we’re nearing the end of this season, the British coverage has gotten more subdued, although maybe I’ve just gotten better at tuning them out. I saw a few different people – Sussex Squaders – talking about the Telegraph’s coverage of this week’s podcast, “The Audacity of the Activist.” The Telegraph isn’t trying to make a meal over every little nitpicky thing about Meghan, but they did layer in some very hilarious commentary about how Meghan was an activist when she was a working royal, just as other royal women are suddenly activists too!! HRUMPH!
The hour-long episode, the tenth in the series, sees the Duchess explain why she has chosen to campaign for gender equity. She did so throughout her short time in the Royal family, whose members have regularly worked to promote the rights of women.
Describing the lead-up to her 2018 wedding to Prince Harry, the Duchess said: “Just a few days before my wedding, a very, very influential and inspiring woman – who for her own privacy I won’t share who [it] was with you – but she said to me, I know that your life is changing but please don’t give up your activism. Don’t give up because it means so much to women and girls. And I kept doing the work for women and girls because it matters, yes, but also because she encouraged me to do so and the collective voice of all of us telling each other.”
The Duchess’s campaigning for women and girls during her two years in Britain included becoming patron of SmartWorks, a charity helping to boost the confidence of vulnerable women by dressing them for job interviews, and a cookbook for the Grenfell Tower community. In doing so, she followed in the footsteps of other female members of the Royal family, who are still working within the palace system.
The Queen has made domestic violence a cornerstone of her public campaigning, while the Princess of Wales focuses closely on the mental health of mothers and promotion of women in sport. The Countess of Wessex works with the UN for the protection of women from sexual violence in warzones, the Princess Royal has been a lifelong supporter of women in Stem and the military, and the late Queen Elizabeth II is regularly held up as one of history’s most influential women, reigning through decades dominated by men.
Dictionary definition of “activist”: “a person who campaigns to bring about political or social change.” In fact, when Meghan used her position within the royal family to be an activist, she was always ripped to shreds for being “too political, too woke, too American” and for trying to “change” things which are perfectly fine already, at least according to the old, stale, male editors of the British papers. I would agree that other royal women have sometimes ventured into something resembling activism, but there’s a difference between activism, advocacy and patronage. Most royal women are not actually activists, they are advocates and patrons. I just find it funny that Meghan is like “activism is cool, more women should be activists” and the Telegraph is crying about how no one recognizes Kate’s “activism” in saying “the early years are important” for five years.
Photos courtesy of Backgrid.