A few months ago, two of the highest-profile black women in America and Britain sat down over a chicken taco lunch and discussed a “secret project.” The result: an interview between The Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle and former first lady Michelle Obama in British Vogue, conveying a rarely seen sense of intimacy and friendship between the two women.
The Duchess of Sussex served as Vogue’s guest editor for its famed September issue, which she has titled “Forces for Change,” featuring a range of influential women leaders.
British Vogue traditionally features a Q&A-format piece on its last page, and, Markle said, she wanted “someone kind, inspirational, motivating, funny, with gravitas and as much depth as levity” to do the honor. Obama came to mind.
“So, over a casual lunch of chicken tacos and my ever-burgeoning bump, I asked Michelle if she would help me with this secret project,” Markle wrote, calling her “my former First Lady, and now friend, Michelle.”
In the interview, the women expressed a sense of familiarity with each other. The Duchess kicked off her questioning asking, “You sent me the kindest message on Mother’s Day this year. What has motherhood taught you?”
Obama wrote about raising daughters and her desire “to give them the space to explore and develop into the people they want to be,” sharing her advice that they follow their own life paths and suggesting that any advice she’d give to sons would be “exactly the same.” She described her work with the Obama Foundation’s Girls Opportunity Alliance, a global program focused on education.
The Obamas have been close with Prince Harry for some time through their support for the Invictus Games, and they have since developed a bond with Markle.
When the couple married in 2018, Kensington Palace announced they would not be inviting political leaders, with a royal source telling CNN at the time that while Harry and Meghan hoped to see Barack and Michelle Obama soon, the former US President and his wife would not be at the wedding. The source would not say definitively whether the Obamas – who are close to the royal couple – had been invited. Since then, Markle and Michelle Obama reportedly met privately one evening during the UK leg of Obama’s book tour.
While Prince Harry, who is obliged as a royal to be politically neutral, has never spoken publicly about Donald Trump, Markle strongly criticized the now-US President in 2016.
In an interview on “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” in May that year – two months before Harry and Meghan first met – she described Trump (who was then a Republican candidate for the presidency) as “divisive” and “misogynistic.”
First lady Melania Trump met Prince Harry early in the Trump administration, attending the Invictus Games in Toronto in 2017.
Asked in a final question by Markle to share “the most beautiful sound that you’ve ever heard,” Obama described her daughters’ newborn sounds, addressing the Duchess personally.
“When Malia and Sasha were newborns, Barack and I could lose hours just watching them sleep. We loved to listen to the little sounds they’d make – especially the way they cooed when they were deep into dreaming,” Obama said.
She continued, “Don’t get me wrong, early parenthood is exhausting. I’m sure you know a thing or two about that these days. But there is something so magical about having a baby in the house. Time expands and contracts; each moment holds its own little eternity. I’m so excited for you and Harry to experience that, Meghan. Savor it all.”
CNN’s Max Foster contributed to this report.