But while some criticised her silence, many suspected she may be working behind the scenes and figuring out how to address the situation in the most appropriate, impactful, and personal way. They were right.
Giving an address to graduating pupils at the school she attended from the age of 11 to 18, the Duchess of Sussex not only paid tribute to George Floyd and other African Americans who have been killed in the US by police in recent years, but also acknowledged and lamented her own silence.
We’ve heard important, raw and honest thoughts from celebrities all over the globe in recent days in response to last week’s senseless killing of George Floyd in in Minneapolis and the subsequent topic of systemic racism, but one woman many were desperate to hear from was Meghan Markle.
Speaking at Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles, Meghan said: “As we’ve all seen over the last week what is happening in our country and in our state and in our home town of LA has been absolutely devastating.”
“And I wasn’t sure what I could say to you. I wanted to say the right thing, and I was really nervous that I wouldn’t or that it would get picked apart, and I realised the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing, because George Floyd’s life mattered. Breonna Taylor’s life mattered and Philando Castile’s life mattered and Tamir Rice’s life mattered… and so did so many other people whose names we know and whose names we do not know.”
Perhaps explaining her choice of venue as to where to speak out, Meghan revealed that it was in fact one of her old teachers who first encouraged her to have the courage to use her voice.
“One of my teachers, Miss Pollia, said to me: ‘always remember to put other’s needs above your own fears.’ That has stuck with me throughout my entire life and I have thought about it more in the last week than ever before.”
A mixed race woman who grew up in Los Angeles, Meghan recalled living through the 1992 riots.
“I was 11 or 12 years old and it was the LA Riots, which was also triggered by a senseless act of racism.”
“I remember the curfew and I remember rushing back home and on that drive home, seeing ash fall from the sky and smelling the smoke and seeing the smoke billow out of buildings. I remember seeing men in the back of a van just holding guns and rifles.”
“I remember pulling up the house and seeing the tree, that had always been there, completely charred. And those memories don’t go away.”
Ending her address with a message of hope, she said: “I know you know that Black lives matter.”
“We’re seeing that right now, from the sheriff in Michigan or the police chief in Virginia.”
“We’re seeing people stand in solidarity, we are seeing communities come together and to uplift.”
“You are going to be part of this movement.”
“With as diverse, vibrant and opened minded as I know the teachings are at Immaculate Heart, I know you know that Black lives matter.”
“You’re going to use your voice in a stronger way than you have ever been able to because most of you are 18 – or you’re turning 18 – so you’re going to vote.”
“You’re going to have empathy for those who don’t see the world through the same lens that you do. You’re ready. We need you and you’re prepared.”