Meghan Markle Said She Was "In Tears" While Preparing Her Black Lives Matter Speech

The Duchess said she "spoke from the heart."

Meghan Markle
(Image credit: Pool)

Meghan Markle reflected on her vital Black Lives Matter speech during Fortune's Most Powerful Women virtual summit on Tuesday. In a conversation with Fortune senior editor Ellen McGirt, addressing online misinformation, dealing with attacks both on and offline, and using her platform to effect change, Meghan said she was "in tears" while preparing the speech for the graduating class of her alma mater, Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles.

McGirt asked Meghan about the key to using one's platform effectively, noting, "You’re not the only powerful woman who has had a sitting president take a shot at you, mobs come at you, powerful people and powerful forces try to take you down or try to disparage your message." In response, the Duchess of Sussex said "authenticity" was crucial.

"That high school graduation speech, I had done it a week or so before, I had pre-taped it for the most part," Meghan explained. "It was for high schoolers, for 17-year-old girls, so the tone and the sentiment—while it was of course going to be a call to action—it was certainly lighter than where we landed after the murder of George Floyd. I knew I couldn’t use that tape, and I really struggled, if I’m being honest, about what to say."

"I didn’t sit down and write anything, and I didn’t ask anyone for help with how I should word this," she continued. "I was just in tears thinking about it, and I was explaining to my husband why I thought that it was so heartbreaking. Certainly for me to be back in Los Angeles and it feeling so reminiscent to the state of Los Angeles with the riots after the Rodney King beating. And so for these girls to be graduating from high school, what should be a very celebratory time, to be plagued with that unrest felt troubling to me."

"So I just spoke from the heart," Meghan concluded, "and that’s probably why it doesn’t look polished and that’s why it doesn’t feel perfect but that’s also why it’s authentic."

Meghan also shared how she copes with the vitriol she receives, explaining, "If you don’t listen to all the noise out there and you just focus on living on a purpose driving life and you focus on knowing what your own moral compass is—there are always going to be naysayers, but at the end of the day… You know, I used to have a quote up in my room many, many moons ago and it resonates now perhaps more than ever when you see the vitriol and noise that can be out in the world. It’s by Georgia O’Keefe and it’s, 'I have already settled it for myself so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free.'"

"The moment that you’re able to be liberated from all of these other opinions of what you know to be true, then I think it’s very easy to just live with truth and live with authenticity," the Duchess said. "And that is how I choose to move through the world."

Emily Dixon
Morning Editor

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.