As Meghan received the Women of Vision award from Gloria Steinem in New York last night, she gave the feminist icon a warm hug before accepting the gong.
It was no doubt a symbol of her gratitude, but also a gesture of friendship between two pals who struck up a close relationship a few years back when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex first left the UK for Montecito, California, in 2020.
Standing on stage at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in Manhattan, Meghan, 41, praised her ‘friend’ Gloria, 89, ‘for the inspiration that you are, for your mentorship, your sage advice, your extraordinarily cheeky sense of humor and, of course, for your incredible friendship’.
Since the pair first met, they struck up a friendship over their shared interest in promoting women’s rights and equal voting rights ahead of the Presidential Election that year.
And for the last three years, Steinem, who is best known for her role within the Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1960s and 1970s, has been full of praise for the Duchess, telling Access in 2020 that Meghan was ‘smart, authentic, funny, political’ and claiming: ‘She came home to vote.’
Meghan and Gloria’s friendship first blossomed when the pair sat down together to film a video on the Makers Women channel, about women’s rights and voting rights, after learning they only lived 45 minutes away from each other.
As the duo sat on wooden chairs in the garden during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Gloria opened the conversation by telling her pal: ‘Welcome home.’
The Duchess responded that she was pleased to be back in the US ‘for so many reasons’.
When the conversation kicked off, Meghan praised Gloria for her decades of work in advancing women’s rights, saying that ‘people forget’ the amount of hard work activists like Gloria put in to improve the lives of future generations of women.
As Gloria Steinem presents the Duchess of Sussex with a ‘Women of Vision’ award, FEMAIL chards the well-documented friendship between the pair (pictured at the NYC gala last night)
At one point, the pair were even joined by Meghan’s beloved dogs, black Labrador Pula, and rescue beagle Guy, who happily wandered into the camera shot during the chat, and lay down at the Duchess’s feet while she continued chatting with Gloria.
‘[The dog] wants to be on camera,’ Gloria joked while gesturing at Pula, who Meghan and Harry adopted together in 2018, shortly after they tied the knot. The Duchess of Sussex rescued Guy the beagle before she met Prince Harry and moved the pup to London with her back in 2017, leaving her other rescue dog – Bogart – behind.
The black-and-white clip – which was shot by filmmaker and photographer Matt Sayles – shows the two women sitting in the shade of a large tree, with a wooden table placed between their chairs, which appeared to have been spaced in order to comply with social distancing regulations.
She also made no attempt to hide her admiration for Gloria, gushing happily about how ‘great’ it was to be chatting with the famed feminist.
‘Today is a pretty great day, for me it’s a pretty great day,’ Meghan said to the activist, who shared her opinions about the 2020 election – and the importance of each and every vote – with the Duchess.
At the end of the chat, Gloria gifted Meghan with a bracelet which was engraved with the words: ‘We are linked, not ranked.’ Upon receiving it, Meghan said it ‘means everything to me on every level’.
While sharing the clip on Instagram, Makers Women described the conversation between the two women as a ‘historic backyard chat’, while sharing a few details about what Gloria and Meghan discussed.
Meghan and Gloria were spotted leaving the swanky Crosby Hotel in New York last summer following a lunch
The Duchess and the feminist icon first met over a ‘backyard chat’ in Montecito, California in 2020 to discuss women’s rights and voter rights
‘Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex and Gloria Steinem discuss representation, why each vote matters and how all women ‘are linked, not ranked,” the caption read. ‘MAKERS has an exclusive look at that historic backyard chat! Q&A to come tomorrow.’
Since this first meeting, the Duchess and Gloria have maintained a close friendship, and gave a joint interview to Vogue US last summer after the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade, putting abortion rights at risk for women around the US.
During the interview, the Duchess called on men to be more vocal about their anger at the decision in order to add their voices to the growing number of women who objected to the Supreme Court’s move. Meghan also revealed that Harry had been devastated by the decision.
‘They may target women, but the consequences impact all of us,’ she said.
‘My husband and I talked about that a lot over the past few days. He’s a feminist too.’
Gloria confirmed Harry was indeed an advocate for women’s rights and referred to the Duke and Duchess as ‘chosen family’.
Steinem told Vogue that Meghan and Harry speaking out about the issue was vital.
‘It’s very, very, very important,’ she said.
‘Because what they both have is trust. We trust them and nothing but nothing replaces trust. It is the most important quality or attribute. We can see things on television and not believe them or not trust them.
‘But when people like these two tell us, then we trust it.’
A few weeks after the interview, Meghan and Gloria were spotted arm in arm as they left the swanky Crosby Hotel in Soho, New York after having lunch together.
As they said goodbye before Gloria hopped in a taxi, they shared a hug.
The political activist recruited Meghan in her fight to get Congress to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment – a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex.
Speaking to People last November, just weeks before the Duke and Duchess’s $100 million Netfliox docuseries landed, Gloria said of Meghan: ‘I’m not an expert on the media, but it seems to me that she is different from the picture of her in the media.
‘She’s smart and funny and devoted to social issues.’
Steinem added Meghan was a ‘great human being’.