Most people might consider taking the day off for their birthday, especially if it was their 40th, but Meghan Markle is made of sterner stuff.
She has marked the milestone by launching a mentorship programme to support women getting back into the workforce after the pandemic. Her new scheme is called 40x40. She’s asked 40 activists, athletes, artists and world leaders have signed up to give 40 minutes of their time to help others. Big names like Hillary Clinton, popstar Adele, poet Amanda Gorman and designer Stella McCartney are all involved (how they will help is as yet unclear).
Don’t worry, it wasn’t all work, she made a comedy video too. Meghan launched 40x40 with a carefully orchestrated skit shot in the study of her Montecito mansion with Bridesmaids actress Melissa McCarthy (soon to be in TV series Nine Perfect Strangers, an adaptation of Big Little Lies author Liane Moriarty’s novel, with Nicole Kidman) and a cameo from another top joker, her husband Harry, who juggles outside while she chats with McCarthy on Zoom and has cake (with white icing of course, anything else might stain her 50 shades of beige interior).
Birthdays are a time to reflect on the year you’ve had and the year ahead – so what does this video tell us about Meghan and her inner circle?
The average adult has seven friends. We now know that Meghan has at least 40 and not only that but they are willing to do charity work for her (mine will barely get a round in at the pub). Many are long distance – Melissa McCarthy, for example, is based in Australia with her actor and producer husband Ben Falcone. But they have a California connection in Octavia Spencer, McCarthy’s long-term best friend.
Other friends include Beyoncé, who posted a message on her own website wishing Megs all the best on her birthday (more modern than a card); Princess Eugenie who is the only royal taking part in 40x40 and lives in Frogmore cottage, where Meghan and Harry were based before they went to LA; singer Ciara who has pivoted from singing 1, 2 Step to completing a degree at Harvard Business School. There’s also Serena Williams, who says Meg’s personality “just shines”, Amal Clooney and, of course, Oprah, who interviewed Meghan and Harry.
You can’t get to forty without a few changes in your friendship line-up. For years, stylist Jessica Mulroney was Meghan’s best mate but they are no longer as close as they were, especially after Mulroney got into controversy over Black Lives Matter, although they do speak on FaceTime.
Then, of course, there is her beagle, Guy, who lies in the background of her video with McCarthy, behaving impeccably. Conveniently, he matches her study’s colour scheme.
I used to have a boss who came from Tatler where at the end of every week they had ‘Tidy Friday’, which meant they had to clear their desks. It isn’t hard to find psychologists who say that tidy desk equals tidy mind. But what about a desk like Meghan’s which is bigger than most people’s kitchen tables, decked out with thoughtfully chosen objects, each conveying a message.
Meghan looks tiny in comparison to her enormous desk, towering green plant and a stone fireplace behind her that wouldn’t look out of place in Game of Thrones. There is a lot to take in – from the telescope in the background and the copies of her children’s book The Bench piled high to the £1,600 Hermes Avalon Signature blanket monogrammed with an H (also for Harry, how handy!). There’s also huge crystal (did she win The Crystal Maze in a former life?) and the delicate bone china cup (the sort of thing that American people think royals drink out of).
It is tidy – there are white in-trays and everything is meticulously lined up - but her chair stands out; no office swivel chair for Meghan, this looks like a comfortable dining room affair. It is, of course, beige.