So Meghan and Harry have had their baby boy, with Prince Harry announcing the news of his son’s safe arrival and the “amazing experience” of birth, adding: “How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension.”
It seems sure that their new son will be brought up a feminist – the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been outspoken in their support of women’s rights and education and in the run up to the birth, they championed causes close to this – asking royal fans to send charity donations – rather than presents for the baby.
So, with both parents self-declared feminists, we’ve rounded up the Duke and Duchess’s most inspiring quotes for their new baby boy to live by.
Speaking up is important.
On International Women’s Day, Meghan Markle shared how, from a young age, she felt compelled to speak up for what is right.
“If things are wrong and there is a lack of justice, and there is an inequality, then someone needs to say something.”
When she was just 11, Markle watched a series of adverts for a school project and found one of them, for a dish soap, sexist. It opened by saying “women are fighting greasy pots and pans” – so she wrote a letter to Procter & Gamble, owner of the dish soap, and asked them to change it to “people”, which it did. She said on TV at the time:
“I don’t think it’s right for kids to grow up thinking these things where just mom does everything. It’s always, ‘mom does this, and mom does that.’”
Feminism starts in the womb.
Also speaking on International Women’s Day, she told of a Netflix documentary she had seen on feminism, where one woman on the programme described feeling during pregnancy “the embryonic kicking of feminism.”
“I loved that [the embryonic kicking of feminism], so boy or girl, whatever it is, we hope that that’s the case with our little bump.”
Feminism isn’t just for girls.
During a visit to the Girls Summit in Kathmandu in 2016, Prince Harry delivered a powerful speech about women’s rights and access to education.
“While the unique challenges faced by girls is not a topic I have spoken much about in the past, I think it’s important to acknowledge... there are way too many obstacles between girls and the opportunities they deserve. I believe it is vitally important for men like me to acknowledge this as loudly and openly as role models do.”
Prince Harry has also been a supporter of gender equality movement: HeForShe. He said about the campaign:
“This is not just about women, we men need to recognise the part we play, too. Real men treat women with dignity and give them the respect they deserve.”
Be proud of who you are.
Speaking to Elle UK in 2015, Markle spoke about her experiences of being a biracial woman, and how her mixed heritage kept her with a foot on “both sides of the fence.”
“I have come to embrace that. To say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman. That when asked to choose my ethnicity in a questionnaire as in my seventh grade class, or these days to check ‘Other’, I simply say: ‘Sorry, world, this is not Lost and I am not one of The Others. I am enough exactly as I am.’”
She also wrote in an open letter to herself back in 2014 – on her 33rd birthday – about learning to be kinder to herself.
“You need to know that you’re enough. A mantra that has now ingrained itself so deeply within me that not a day goes by without hearing it chime in my head. That five pounds lost won’t make you happier, that more make-up won’t make you prettier, that the now iconic saying from Jerry Maguire – ‘you complete me’ – frankly, isn’t true. You are enough just as you are.”
Feminism is about fairness.
Meghan Markle delivered an empowering speech about voting rights and feminism during an event to celebrate the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand in October 2018.
“Women’s suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness. Suffrage is not simply about the right to vote but also about what that represents: the basic and fundamental human right of being able to participate in the choices for your future and that of your community, the involvement and voice that allows you to be a part of the very world that you are a part of.”
There’s no uniform for feminism.
In 2016, Markle stood on stage at Create and Cultivate to let the audience know that being a feminist does not require dress-up.
“You don’t have to play dress up to be a feminist. You are a feminist exactly the way you are. You can be a woman who wants to look good and still stand up for the equality of women. There’s no uniform for feminism; you are a feminist exactly the way you are.”
Educating girls is about empowering them.
The Duchess of Sussex has often spoken out on the importance of providing women and girls in developing countries with education. During a speech at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, she said she was only afforded access to education by financial aid and scholarships alongside paid work.
“Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to receive education that they want but more importantly the education they have the right to receive. And for women and girls in developing countries, this is vital – providing them with education is the key to economic and social development.”
In February 2018, in the midst of #MeToo, Markle argued that women “don’t need to find a voice”, but they need to be encouraged to use it.
“What’s interesting is that I hear a lot of people saying, when talking about girls‘ empowerment and women as well, you’ll often hear people saying, ‘You’re helping them find their voices’, I fundamentally disagree with that. Women don’t need to find their voice. They need to feel empowered to use it and people need to be encouraged to listen.”
Women should be proud of their purpose.
Writing on her website The Tig in 2016, Markle explained how she grew up around her hard-working parents – who were passionate about their work and home environments. This made her determined to keep a foot in two contrasting worlds she was passionate about – the entertainment industry, and the other in humanitarian work.
“I’ve never wanted to be a lady who lunches—I’ve always wanted to be a woman who works. And this type of work is what feeds my soul and fuels my purpose.”
Taboo subjects should be addressed.
Markle is passionate about ending period poverty. She chose a small charity in India – which offers access to sanitary products for women and girls – to benefit from her wedding donations. Speaking about the issue in Time, she wrote:
“Young girls’ potential is being squandered because we are too shy to talk about the most natural thing in the world. Many girls believe their bodies are purging evil spirits, or that they are injured once a month; this is a shame-filled reality they quietly endure. All of these factors perpetuate the cycle of poverty and stunt a young girl’s dream for a more prolific future.”
You can be anything you want to be.
As a believer of breaking down stigmas, Prince Harry also said – when speaking about his mother, Diana:
“It’s something my mother believed in: If you are in a position of privilege, if you can put your name to something that you genuinely believe in, you can smash any stigma you want, and you can encourage anybody to do anything.”