According to Hayek -- who was one of 15 women Markle selected to grace the powerful cover of the upcoming "Forces of Change" issue -- she was one of the only people that was informed of Markle's involvement in the issue before the shoot.
"I felt very honored when we did this photo shoot. No one else knew what it was for. Only me and the photographer, Peter Lindbergh, knew," Hayek recalled. "All the girls were getting their picture taken for the cover and they didn’t know that Meghan was how they got there."
Apparently, Hayek was first approached to be a part of the cover montage when British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful called her personally, and the level of secrecy and discretion was so enormous that Hayek said she thought it was a prank.
"I was in the car and [Enninful] said, 'Listen, I’m going to put somebody on the phone. Are you in the car with people?' I said 'Yes.' He told me, 'You cannot say the name of the person I’m calling,'" Hayek shared. "Frankly, I thought it was a joke. And we are also very good friends with Naomi Campbell. And I thought, they’re pulling my leg or something, you know?"
"But then it took a while for the other person to get on the phone. Then she got on the phone and introduced herself," Hayek continued, adding that Markle, whom she'd never met in person before, asked her to be a part of a "project in support of women" that she was currently undertaking.
"She explained her passion for women and what’s happening currently. And then she said she’s doing this with British Vogue," Hayek added. "[She said] 'I'm [doing the cover], I'm not going to be on the cover, I’m putting my favorite women on the cover. And you're definitely one of them. You are one of the first ones.'"
According to Hayek, she was "completely shocked" by the compliment and the offer, and managed to keep the entire thing under wraps.
After the secret of Markle's involvement became public this week, she and Enninful put in another call to Hayek -- this time a congratulatory call to thank her for her participation and discretion.
Hayek is joined on the cover by a number of other famous, powerful and influential women who have inspired and motivated Markle, including Adwoa Aboah, Adut Akech, Ramla Ali, Jacinda Ardern, Sinead Burke, Gemma Chan, Laverne Cox, Jane Fonda, Francesca Hayward, Jameela Jamil, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Yara Shahidi, Greta Thunberg and Christy Turlington Burns.
Markle herself does not appear in the striking black-and-white montage of portraits, however, there is a space featuring a mirror-like surface that is meant to include the reader in the message behind the cover.
"Together, these women are British Vogue’s cover stars for September and the ultimate force for change in the world right now. The Duchess believes British Vogue’s readers are part of this moment too -- as a result the 16th spot on the magazine's cover is a mirror to include the reader and encourage them to use their own platforms to effect change," Enninful said in a statement regarding the upcoming issue, which will be released on Aug. 2.
Check out the video below to hear more about Markle's inspiring work on the September issue of British Vogue.