When Meghan Markle, the Duchess Of Sussex, set out to guest edit British Vogue’s September issue, she knew she wanted the back page to be a strong finish for the magazine. So, she picked the most gripping interview subject she could think of for the closing Q&A.: Michelle Obama.
“It needed to be someone kind, inspirational, motivating, funny, with gravitas and as much depth as levity,” Markle writes. “My second thought: It needed to be Michelle Obama.”
"Motherhood has taught me that, most of the time, my job is to give them the space to explore and develop into the people they want to be,” Obama responded. “Not who I want them to be or who I wish I was at that age, but who they are, deep inside.”
Obama also shared about one familiar struggle of motherhood: Wanting to protect your children from the world and its occasional cruelty.
“As mothers, we just don’t want anything or anyone to hurt our babies,” Obama wrote. “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.”
Markle asked Obama what advice she gives her daughters. With this prompt, Obama reflected on her younger years when she decided to be a lawyer “because it sounded like a job for good, respectable people” — not because she was passionate about it. She said she wanted her daughters to know that it’s okay to break the mould as they chase their dreams.
"As a younger woman, I spent too much time worrying that I wasn’t achieving enough, or I was straying too far from what I thought was the prescribed path," Obama wrote. "What I hope my daughters will realise a little earlier is that there is no prescribed path, that it’s OK to swerve, and that the confidence they need to recognise that will come with time."
She said her advice would be the same if she were giving it to sons, a nod to Markle and her son Archie.
Markle noted that if she’d known the former First Lady would be so generous and open in her responses, her questions may have been more detailed and probing, and she would have called Obama, rather than emailed. Still, the last question elicited a tear-jerking and heart-felt response from Obama. Markle closed the interview with a fun, “wild-card” question. “What is the most beautiful sound that you’ve ever heard?” Markle asked.
“When Malia and Sasha were newborns, Barack and I could lose hours just watching them sleep,” Obama wrote. “We loved to listen to the little sounds they’d make – especially the way they cooed when they were deep into dreaming. Don’t get me wrong, early parenthood is exhausting. I’m sure you know a thing or two about that these days… Savour it all.”