Michelle Obama Gives Parenting Advice to Meghan Markle in 'British Vogue' Interview
By Desiree Murphy
Meghan Markle can now add "editor" to her long list of accomplishments.
The Duchess of Sussex is the guest editor for the September issue of British Vogue, and for one of her tasks, she interviews Michelle Obama for the popular fashion magazine.
"I knew that I wanted to create a magazine that would speak not just to where we are, but to where we hope to be. In doing so, I knew we needed to both open and close strong," Meghan, 37, writes. "Like a beautiful meal: the first bite sets the tone and the final spoonful leaves you satiated, smiling, and sometimes (if you're dining under the direction of a forward-thinking chef) even inspired. So how could I bring this issue to its logical conclusion? How could I meet that very lofty self-imposed goal?"
"My first thought was that it needed to be someone kind, inspirational, motivating, funny, with gravitas and as much depth as levity," she adds. "My second thought: it needed to be Michelle Obama."
In the rare interview, which Meghan reveals was conducted for the Forces for Change issue "over a casual lunch of chicken tacos and my ever-burgeoning bump," the former First Lady of the United States opens up about everything from what her life has been like since leaving the White House to raising daughters Malia, 21, and Sasha, 18, with husband Barack Obama.
When asked by the Duchess what motherhood has taught her, Michelle, 55, says it's "been a masterclass in letting go."
"Try as we might, there's only so much we can control. And, boy, have I tried -- especially at first," Michelle admits. "As mothers, we just don't want anything or anyone to hurt our babies. But life has other plans. Bruised knees, bumpy roads and broken hearts are part of the deal."
"What's both humbled and heartened me is seeing the resiliency of my daughters. In some ways, Malia and Sasha couldn't be more different," she continues. "One speaks freely and often, one opens up on her own terms. One shares her innermost feelings, the other is content to let you figure it out. Neither approach is better or worse, because they’ve both grown into smart, compassionate and independent young women, fully capable of paving their own paths."
Michelle adds that motherhood has also taught her to give Malia and Sasha space, "to explore and develop" into the people they are meant to be.
"Not who I want them to be or who I wish I was at that age, but who they are, deep inside," she explains. "Motherhood has also taught me that my job is not to bulldoze a path for them in an effort to eliminate all possible adversity. But instead, I need to be a safe and consistent place for them to land when they inevitably fail; and to show them, again and again, how to get up on their own."
"I tell them that I hope they’'ll keep trying on new experiences until they find what feels right. And what felt right yesterday might not necessarily feel right today," she continues. "Becoming who we are is an ongoing process, and thank God -- because where's the fun in waking up one day and deciding there's nowhere left to go? That's something I wish I'd recognized a little earlier."
Michelle tells Meghan that when she was younger, she spent way too much time worrying that she wasn't achieving enough, or that she was "straying too far" from what she "thought" was the right path.
"When I was in college, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer because it sounded like a job for good, respectable people. It took me a few years to listen to my intuition and find a path that fit better for who I was, inside and out," she confesses. "What I hope my daughters will realize a little earlier is that there is no prescribed path, that it's OK to swerve, and that the confidence they need to recognize that will come with time."
Towards the end of the interview, Meghan then asks Michelle, "If you were sitting down with your 15-year-old self, what do you think she would tell you, seeing who you have become today?"
"I had a lot of fun when I was 15, but when it came right down to it, teenage-me was pretty by the book -- straight As, through-the-roof standards for herself. So I imagine that she'd be proud of how far I've come -- but she wouldn't let me off the hook, either," she replies. "I feel like she'd give me one of those silent nods of recognition, you know? She'd remind me there are still too many girls on the South Side of Chicago who are being shushed, cast aside or told they're dreaming too big. She'd tell me to keep fighting for them. If I'm being honest, she'd probably smile about how cute my husband is, too."
As ET previously reported, the "Forces for Change" issue will also feature conversations between Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry, as well as Dr. Jane Goodall, in addition to stories from 15 powerful and impactful women highlighted on the magazine's cover.
Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful reveals in a statement that in addition to guest-editing the issue, Meghan was also offered the opportunity to appear on the cover, but she respectfully declined.
"From the very beginning, we talked about the cover -- whether she would be on it or not," Enninful shares. "In the end, she felt that it would be in some ways a 'boastful' thing to do for this particular project. She wanted, instead, to focus on the women she admires."
"To have the country's most influential beacon of change guest edit British Vogue at this time has been an honor, a pleasure and a wonderful surprise," he adds. "As you will see from her selections throughout this magazine, she is also willing to wade into more complex and nuanced areas, whether they concern female empowerment, mental health, race or privilege."
While Meghan doesn't appear on the magazine's cover, ET learned earlier this month that she was expected to participate in some photos at her new residence at Frogmore to supplement her collaboration with the U.K. fashion magazine. The September issue of British Vogue is available on digital download and on newsstands Friday, Aug. 2. Hear more in the video below.