The new-age princess

How Meghan made her mark as a 'real deal' cam­paigner

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - COMMENT - By Marie Jack­son

She has sparkle, style and star qual­ity, as news­pa­per head­line writ­ers like to tell us. But Meghan Markle also has some­thing else about her which wasn't al­ways part of the princess- to- be pack­age - but has be­come a key part of the mod­ern role.

She comes into her new royal role al­ready firmly es­tab­lished as a cam­paign­ing force. In­deed, her and Prince Harry's shared pas­sion for so­cial change was, she www. sun­day­times. lk says, what got him the sec­ond date.

Aged 11, she wrote a let­ter to the then US first lady, Hil­lary Clin­ton, lament­ing a wash­ing up liq­uid's TV ad strapline: "Women all over Amer­ica are fight­ing greasy pots and pans". Within a month, man­u­fac­tur­ers Proc­ter and Gam­ble had changed the word "women" to "peo­ple", she says. "It was at that mo­ment that I re­alised the mag­ni­tude of my ac­tions. I had cre­ated my small level of im­pact by stand­ing up for equal­ity," she was to say some 20 years later, in an

Meghan Markle has had a taste of royal life, as she joined her fi­ance Prince Harry on their first joint of­fi­cial pub­lic en­gage­ment in Not­ting­ham.

Ex­cited crowds cheered as the cou­ple greeted well-wish­ers ahead of a visit to a World Aids Day char­ity fair hosted by the Ter­rence Hig­gins Trust. They split up to talk to peo­ple lin­ing both sides of their route and were given cards, flow­ers and choco­late.

After the char­ity fair, they met head teach­ers at a nearby school. Well­wish­ers gath­ered in the city ahead of the visit to catch a glimpse of the cou­ple. In­ter­na­tional Women's Day speech be­fore the UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, Ban Ki-moon. At 15, she was vol­un­teer­ing in soup kitchens.

She's tack­led the del­i­cate is­sue of the stigma around men­strual health in an ar­ti­cle for Time mag­a­zine and been global am­bas­sador for World Vi­sion Canada, which cam­paigns for bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion, food and health­care for chil­dren around the world.

It may not be un­usual for ac­tors to take up fash­ion­able causes to boost their pro­file and ap­pear kind and thought­ful. But Meghan is the real deal, says Kate Robert­son, co- founder of the char­ity One Young World. She in­vited her to speak on a stage in Dublin after watch­ing her in her hit TV se­ries, Suits, and see­ing her UN speech.

She said she thought Meghan would be a fa­mous face that would in­ter­est their au­di­ence of young peo­ple from around the world, but couldn't be sure how good she'd be on a panel or speak­ing freely in a ques­tion-and- an­swer ses­sion. But, when it came to the crunch, Meghan was "so elo­quent, so eru­dite", she says. "It wasn't your av­er­age ac­tress step­ping up and talk­ing about gen­der equal­ity. It was the real deal - very forth­right, very con­fi­dent and very un-celebrity," she adds.

As Meghan read­ies her­self for royal life, she has said she wants a "clean slate" and so will no longer work as a UN women's ad­vo­cate or for World Vi­sion. In­stead, she plans to fo­cus her at­ten­tion on the UK and Com­mon­wealth. "This is the coun­try that's go­ing to be her home now and that means trav­el­ling around, get­ting to know the towns and cities and smaller com­mu­ni­ties," Harry's press sec­re­tary Ja­son Knauf said.

She will also be­come the fourth pa­tron of the Royal Foun­da­tion of the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge and Prince Harry. The foun­da­tion is be­hind Harry's In­vic­tus Games - the Par­a­lympic­style com­pe­ti­tion for in­jured ser­vice­men and women and vet­er­ans - and also the men­tal health char­ity Heads To­gether.

For her first pub­lic ap­point­ment on Fri­day, Meghan joined Harry on his pre­vi­ously- ar­ranged visit to a Ter rence Hig­gins Trust World Aids Day fair in Not­ting­ham. Over time, Meghan is ex­pected to carve out her own char­i­ta­ble in­ter­ests.

Her f r i e n d E l i z ab e t h Nya­ma­yaro, a se­nior ad­viser with UN Women, knows Meghan won't rush into any­thing. "She will spend a few months, if not years, work­ing be­hind the scenes - lis­ten­ing, learn­ing, iden­ti­fy­ing what needs to change, and pin­point what she wants to make a dif­fer­ence on," she said.

Al­lan Bryce, edi­tor of Royal Life mag­a­zine, thinks the Palace prob­a­bly al­ready has a good idea what Meghan wants to do.


Meghan, 5 sings The Wheels On The Bus in 1986 at an end-of-year show at the pri­vate Lit­tle Red School House (Pic Splash News)

The Wa­ter­colour Pro­ject, hosted by Meghan, helped raise money to build a well in Rwanda (Pic World Vi­sion Canada)

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