Meghan Markle guest edits Vogue, and makes a storm
She's many things but ‘the country’s most influential beacon of change’ she is most definitely not: Piers Morgan
- Published 10.08.19, 11:33 AM
- Updated 10.08.19, 12:03 PM
- 3 mins read
The latest issue of Vogue, which has been ‘guest edited’ by the Duchess of Sussex, was snapped up as soon as it appeared in the shops, with some buyers offering to sell it at many times its cover price of £3.99. I had to go to half a dozen stands before finally managing to locate a copy at WH Smith’s at London Bridge.
I resisted the temptation to also buy a copy of Elle, which has Priyanka Chopra on the cover. However, PC is not among the 15 women projected on the cover of Vogue by Meghan as representing ‘Forces for Change’. The fashion bible’s editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, the first black person to hold the post, agreed readily when Meghan emailed him asking whether she could co-edit the September issue. Among the 15 women she picked are the actresses, Jane Fonda and Salma Hayek, and the New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern. Several of the black women on her list are lesser known, which might be an additional reason why the Duchess, who is mixed-race herself, has attracted so much hostility from critics for whom she can do no right.
Piers Morgan, dismissed Meghan as “a B-list actress” and ridiculed Enninful for holding up his guest editor as “the country’s most influential beacon of change”. “Meghan Markle is many things but ‘the country’s most influential beacon of change’ she is most definitely not,” was his response. The Daily Mail columnist, Sarah Vine, says that Meghan “will not earn our love by flitting around the corridors of Vogue House playing journalist”.
Although there is plenty more in this vein, Meghan seems determined to be the royal family’s first ‘activist’ member. She appears to have formed an alliance with the former First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama, with whom she has conducted an email interview.
Arundhati Roy probably might have been doing what the Duchess of Sussex is doing if, perchance, the Booker Prize-winning author had married into the British royal family. I say this because Prospect, which describes itself as “the leading magazine of ideas”, has just included Roy, “novelist and activist”, among “the world’s top 50 thinkers”.
Prospect, which says it is saluting “the scientists, philosophers and writers reshaping our times”, applauds the author’s 2017 book, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, for taking “direct aim at Narendra Modi’s nationalist India”. “Her soft spot for Maoist revolutionaries can seem naive, but her fearsome eloquence is undeniable,” adds Prospect. Roy’s party trick on her visits to the United Kingdom over many years has been to have nothing good to say about the Indian establishment in general.
In her forthcoming work of non-fiction, New Kings of the World: Dispatches from Bollywood, Dizi, and K-pop, Fatima Bhutto contends that as a global force, American soft power — symbolized by Hollywood, McDonald’s, blue jeans and the like — is being overtaken by “the new arbiters of mass culture”, notably Bollywood. To that end, she has interviewed the “world’s number-one star”, Shah Rukh Khan.
I wish Fatima well. Her father, Murtaza Bhutto, was a friend of mine. He came home for dinner only a few days before his father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was hanged by Zia-ul Haq, an event which I had assured him could not possibly happen. That morning, utterly shocked by the announcement on BBC Radio 4, I went to see Murtaza and his younger brother, Shahnawaz.
Seeking revenge, Murtaza went into hiding, but rang me occasionally from Libya and elsewhere, saying that Muammar Gaddafi had done his best to stop the execution. Fatima has recounted how her beloved father was gunned down in Karachi, allegedly on the orders of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari, in her account of her painful family history, Songs of Blood and Sword.
Sushma Swaraj, who passed away earlier this week, deserves to be remembered for what she achieved at the Cannes Film Festival when she went there in 2001 and 2002 as the information and broadcasting minister. Preceded by her reputation as a humourless politician who had advocated a ban on Fashion TV, she smiled sweetly when I suggested that she had been seduced by the world’s most glamorous film festival.
“Neither [was that] extreme, nor is this extreme,” she said reasonably, at a star-studded India party she hosted at the Carlton Hotel. “... Indian cinema has great potential, and the government must be a proactive facilitator to showcase that cinema. My impressions of Cannes are beautiful. That’s why I have come. I have brought India to this beautiful market.” I changed my mind about Sushma.
True to her word, she made sure that the India Pavilion at Cannes became a fixture and grew year on year. “I don’t get time to watch movies,” she told me, but Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham..., Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! were among her favourites.
I was surprised when Rahul Gandhi, during his visit to London last year, went out of his way to praise the work she had done as Union external affairs minister.
The victory of the 23-year-old junior doctor, Bhasha Mukherjee, in the Miss England contest shows just how much the concept of beauty has changed over the years. There was a time when even judges of colour favoured the long-legged, blond-haired, blue-eyed look. Maybe the rise of India as an economic power has helped make the Bollywood idea of beauty more acceptable. Perhaps India has something to learn from Britain, where diversity is seen as a strength.