We spent the weekend – if not the past weeks and months – waiting for this speech. How would she strike the right note in these perilous times, we wondered? One that was both realistic and optimistic. One that would manage to bring together our fractured country and give the nation what it has long craved: a sense of leadership. One that would banish the cobwebs built up over the course of this scorching, limbo-tastic summer and promise us a brighter dawn?
Yes, a lot was riding on Meghan Markle’s keynote speech at the One Young World Summit in Manchester, and it was with bated breath that young leaders from more than 190 countries gathered to hear the 41-year-old former Suits actress’s words of wisdom. Because unlike Liz Truss, who a few hours earlier channelled her inner DHL woman in her prime ministerial acceptance speech and vowed to “deliver, deliver, deliver” on energy, the cost of living crisis and other (peripheral) challenges faced by the country, Meghan knew that what was foremost in our minds as we teeter on the edge of a global recession was… gender equality. Let’s not forget that the Duchess of Sussex has been working tirelessly on the Greater Good since she was old enough to write (a letter to Procter & Gamble about a sexist advert, rolled out as proof of her innate superiority at any given opportunity).
As our self-anointed moral arbiter took her place behind the podium, you might as well have handed her a shovel, sat back… and watched as she dug herself in deeper with every sentence.
If there is one word every public figure would do well to look up at this precise point in history, it’s self-awareness. The underrated and long forgotten ability first to know where you (and your litany of First World woes and joys) stand in relation to everyone else, and then to tailor your actions and pronouncements accordingly. Self-awareness is particularly useful when visiting another country, as William and Kate are set to prove in December when they head to the US for their first official visit in eight years.
“Roll out the royal red carpet!” clamour the US press, as excitement ramps up about the Cambridges’ trip to the second annual Earthshot Prize awards ceremony in Boston, where they will give speeches about the (again, lesser) issue of saving the planet.
The event is set to act as a springboard, we’re told, for a larger trip that will take them “across America in service of their various charities”, and over the weekend British news outlets all posed variations on the same question: “Are William and Kate about to steal Harry and Meghan’s US crown?”