What did Meghan Markle mean in her Women of Vision speech?
Meghan Markle’s speech decoded: Hidden messages in Duchess’ Women of Vision speech with a nod to acts of service, vowing to stand up for ‘what is true’ and retelling story about how she grew up eating TV dinners
Meghan Markle’s Women of Vision speech last night had several hidden messages including references to ‘service’ as she also vowed to stand up for ‘what is true’.
The Duchess of Sussex was with husband Prince Harry and mother Doria Ragland at the Ms Foundation for Women’s 50th anniversary gala ceremony in New York.
The ceremony honoured ‘game-changing’ grantee partners and visionary leaders committed to the group’s mission of ‘advancing collective power and creating safe, just and equitable futures for women, girls, and gender-expansive people’.
The Duchess received the Ms Foundation’s Women of Vision Award, recognising her ‘global advocacy to empower and advocate on behalf of women and girls’.
She wore a strapless gold midi dress with scalloped pattern detailing, and her acceptance speech closed out the gala where she said: ‘It’s never too late to start. You can be the visionary of your own life… There is still so much work to be done.’
She also spoke of her love of eating her dinner from a TV tray in front of quiz show Jeopardy! – something she mentioned in her Archetypes podcast last November.
Meghan’s full speech has not yet been posted online, but MailOnline has compiled and analysed the following transcript based on video clips from social media:
Meghan Markle at the Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Awards in New York City last night
‘Thank you so much for such a warm welcome and for your unparalleled leadership that has brought all of us here tonight. And to my friend Gloria for the inspiration that you are, for your mentorship, sage advice, your extraordinarily cheeky sense of humour and, of course, for your incredible friendship, thank you.’
Meghan has become friends with journalist and feminist activist Gloria Steinem since they first connected in 2020 while isolating in Montecito during the pandemic.
ANALYSIS: Harry and Meghan are best known for launching a guerrilla war against monarchy – not for their service
By RICHARD FITZWILLIAMS
Meghan has been keeping a low profile for months and this was a spectacular comeback with Gloria Steinem as her mentor and Harry and her mother Doria Ragland publicly supporting her.
The last high profile award she collected was the Ripple of Hope Award for her work for mental health and racial justice, though subsequently Harry altered the accusations of racism on Oprah, which so tarnished the royal family, to unconscious bias.
Her appearance was impressively choreographed and her gold dress by Johanna Ortiz was gorgeous.
She was receiving the Woman of Vision Award at the Ms Foundation 50th Anniversary Gala.
Their website emphasised her lifelong advocacy for women and girls in her ventures, the truth surely involved her giving up her job as an actress to marry a Prince.
She is now with the William Morris Endeavour Agency, which might lead to some real achievements, but she is best known for being a member of the royal family who, with her princely spouse, stepped down after only over a year and a half in the job.
Considering her and Harry’s attacks on the institution since then, her mention in her speech of ‘kindness’ seem hollow. However, their Archewell Foundation has raised significant funds for charitable causes.
The royal family serves the nation. King Charles said at his Coronation ‘I come not to be served, but to serve’.
William, at the Concert during the Coronation Concert memorably said ‘I commit myself to serve you all’.
When they stepped down as senior working royals the Sussexes said in a statement that ‘service is universal’ an impertinent response to the Queen, who, when 21, had memorably pledged to serve her whole life and had brilliantly fulfilled her promise.
In her speech Meghan pointedly praised ‘daily acts of service’.
Yet the Sussexes are best known, not for service, but for launching a guerrilla war against the monarchy. It is surely time for her to put her fine words into actions which really benefit others and ceased seeking publicity by publicly attacking the royal family.
The Duchess is said to have contacted Steinem and asked if she wanted to join her in making calls to voting registration organisers to thank them for their work.
They have since had public conversations about suffrage and abortion, and Steinem has described Meghan as ‘smart, authentic, funny, political’.
In turn, Meghan has said Steinem ‘reminds me that when you have anger, you have to channel that energy into something that makes a difference’.
Meghan’s friendship with a woman described by Vogue as ‘the face of American feminism’ is therefore very helpful to strengthening her campaigning for women’s rights.
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams spoke about the importance of Meghan having the support of Steinem and her mother and husband at last night’s event.
He told MailOnline: ‘Meghan has been keeping a low profile for months and this was a spectacular comeback with Gloria Steinem as her mentor and Harry and her mother Doria Ragland publicly supporting her.’
‘To this evening’s other honourees, congratulations and frankly, well deserved. Thank you for the important and meaningful work that you do. While I was familiar with most of your work before tonight, nothing could compare to the focus, the determination, the energy I feel from each of you, especially as we all bear witness to you standing in the elegance and the power of your strength.’
Meghan was keen to show her support for other women honoured at the event last night – who have campaigned for voters’ rights, abortion rights and LGBT issues.
Other award winners included Black Voters Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown, who received an award from her friend #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke.
Black Voters Matter works with communities in 25 states and DC to make their voting more effective, while Ms Brown’s Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute funds voter education, registrations and other programmes to expand access to voting.
The event also honored Wanda Irving, co-founder of Dr. Shalon’s Maternal Action Project, and Kimberly Inez McGuire, executive director of URGE, as well as Texas abortion rights activist Olivia Julianna and LGBTQ+ advocate Rebekah Bruesehoff.
By praising the other honourees, Meghan will no doubt be happy to be aligned with their stance on key issues currently affecting America – none more so than abortion.
‘Now to Ms Foundation, thank you for this truly special honour. It’s funny, because as a young girl I would come home, I would settle in after a day of school, pull up my TV tray dinner, and I would turn on my evening ritual, Jeopardy! ‘And I would glance at the coffee table, where I would see an array of things. It could be the cat’s collar, my homework, some mail that had just been brought in, and some magazines.’
It’s not the first time we’ve heard Meghan’s anecdote about watching Jeopardy! while eating dinner – after she revealed she liked doing this on her podcast last November.
Doria Ragland, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York last night
LAST YEAR — MailOnline reported in November 2022 that Meghan had spoken on her Archetypes podcast about watching Jeopardy! with her dinner on a TV tray
The Duchess spoke to make-up mogul Victoria Jackson and Starbucks chairwoman Mellody Hobson about how she spent ‘a lot of time in front of the TV growing up.’
READ MORE Meghan uses Queen’s mantra for her own crowning moment: Duchess hails ‘service’ as she accepts Women of Vision award at glitzy New York gala with Prince Harry
She said on the Archetypes show how Jeopardy! was her ‘favorite show’, adding: ‘I would eat my dinner on a TV tray in front of the screen, watching each category with bated breath and intense focus trying to absorb whatever facts they were firing off in the form of a question.’
Meghan added that host Alex Trebek was ‘a daily part of her life’, even claiming that when he died in November 2020, she ‘received messages of condolences.’
‘The magazines said ‘Ms’ on them. And I remember them vividly because the pictures were different. There was a diversity that I hadn’t seen as often, both of colour and of age, and the names were different. There were Congresswomen, there were astronauts, and the topics were different. From mothering to being a working mom to heavier topics such as domestic violence, the poverty line, unearthing its roots, where it comes from, and matters of equity.’
Ms magazine was the first national feminist magazine in the US after being co-founded in 1971 by Gloria Steinem – who Meghan praised during her speech.
The Duchess recounted how the magazine was always in their house and her reference to the topics featured are no coincidence, as they are important to her brand today – particularly ‘equity’.
She has referred to equity often in recent years in relation to Covid-19 vaccine equity, while it could also be applied to her campaigning on women’s rights.
The Duchess holds a gold clutch in her hand as she arrives for the event in New York last night
‘And now when I say different, in describing this Ms magazine on the coffee table at our home in Cloverdale, I mean different from the covers of the magazines I would see at the grocery store checkout. And I was too young at the time to know what most of it meant. But I also knew to my mum, my dear mom, I’m honoured to have you here tonight, I knew the significance of these magazines was important. It wasn’t a one-off – she had a subscription.’
The reference to Cloverdale is thought to relate to when she moved into a top-floor apartment on South Cloverdale Avenue in the Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles.
READ MORE: Meghan dons $12,000 outfit at Women of Vision awards
This was after her parents divorced in 1983, and so the magazine would have been on the table when she lived with her mother – but not her estranged father Thomas.
Meghan also paid tribute to her mother Doria Ragland, who had an important role in the royal wedding in 2018 when she rode in the car with her daughter and then took her place inside the church quire at St George’s Chapel, opposite the Queen.
The Duchess regularly speaks about the importance of her mother in her upbringing in California – but there was unsurprisingly no mention of her father Thomas.
‘I am a woman who remains inspired and driven by this organisation.’
Meghan’s praise for the Ms Foundation for Women is important, given it is the nation’s oldest women’s foundation and is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
The gala kicked off a fundraising campaign for $100million over the next 12 months to further the group’s mission of advancing the power of women.
The foundation is already more than halfway to its goal, and the support of Meghan will no doubt bring it increased global exposure and more donations.
Mr Fitzwilliams said: ‘Her appearance was impressively choreographed and her gold dress by Johanna Ortiz was gorgeous. She was receiving the Woman of Vision Award at the Ms Foundation 50th Anniversary Gala.
Meghan is honored at the event by her friend Gloria Steinem, 89, at the event last night
‘Their website emphasised her lifelong advocacy for women and girls in her ventures – the truth surely involved her giving up her job as an actress to marry a Prince.’
‘It allowed me to recognise that part of my greater value and purpose in life was to advocate for those who felt unheard, to stand up to injustice, and to not be afraid of saying what is true and what is just and what is right.’
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Meghan’s reference to ‘not be afraid of saying what is true and what is just and what is right’ is also interesting given her Oprah Winfrey interview in March 2021.
In the bombshell chat, she accused Kate Middleton of making her cry at her wedding and spoke about what she felt was a racist comment made by a royal about Archie’s skin colour.
Mr Fitzwilliams said: ‘The last high profile award she collected was the Ripple of Hope Award for her work for mental health and racial justice, though subsequently Harry altered the accusations of racism on Oprah, which so tarnished the royal family, to unconscious bias.’
‘I suppose the point is it’s just never too late to start. You can be the visionary of your own life. You can charter a path in which what you repeat in your daily acts of service, in kindness, in advocacy, in grace and in fairness, that those become the very things that are recognised by the next wave of women, both young and old, who will also choose this moment to join the movement and make our vision for an equitable world reality.’
The key word in Meghan’s closing comments was ‘service’. This was notable given that her brother-in-law Prince William paid tribute to King Charles’s ‘service’ during the Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle on May 7, one day after the ceremony.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Ms Foundation Women of Vision Awards last night
The Daily Mail front page on February 20, 2021 which said the Sussexes’ comment that ‘service is universal’ was a stinging rebuke to the Queen. The headline described it as a ‘churlish insult’
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are famously interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in March 2021
William said: ‘For all that celebrations are magnificent, at the heart of the pageantry is a simple message. Service. My father’s first words on entering Westminster Abbey yesterday were a pledge of service. It was a pledge to continue to serve.’
What the Royal Family have said about service
Meghan Markle, last night: ‘You can charter a path in which what you repeat in your daily acts of service’
King Charles III, May 8: ‘We now rededicate our lives to serving the people of the United Kingdom, the Realms and Commonwealth.’
Prince William, May 7: ‘At the heart of the pageantry is a simple message. Service. My father’s first words on entering Westminster Abbey yesterday were a pledge of service. It was a pledge to continue to serve.’
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, February 2021: ‘We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.’
Queen Elizabeth II, 1947: ‘I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.’
And on May 8, at the end of the coronation bank holiday weekend, Charles issued a message insisting that he and Queen Camilla would ‘rededicate our lives to serving the people of the United Kingdom, the realms and commonwealth’.
And Queen Elizabeth II famously said on her 21st birthday in 1947 in a speech broadcast on the radio from South Africa, when she was still Princess Elizabeth: ‘I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.’
Meghan’s words also recalled when she and Harry made a statement in February 2021 after Buckingham Palace dramatically confirmed they would step down as working royals, saying: ‘We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.’
Mr Fitzwilliams said: ‘When they stepped down as senior working royals the Sussexes said in a statement that ‘service is universal’ – an impertinent response to the Queen, who, when 21, had memorably pledged to serve her whole life and had brilliantly fulfilled her promise.
‘In her speech Meghan pointedly praised ‘daily acts of service’. Yet the Sussexes are best known, not for service, but for launching a guerrilla war against the monarchy. It is surely time for her to put her fine words into actions which really benefit others and ceased seeking publicity by publicly attacking the royal family.’
Mr Fitzwilliams also said that Meghan’s reference to ‘kindness’ might seem ‘hollow’ given her regular attacks on the royal family. But he added that the couple’s Archewell Foundation has ‘raised significant funds for charitable causes’.
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