Meghan Markle knew Michelle Obama was the perfect person to help her with a "secret project."
"In formulating the content of the Forces for Change issue, I knew that I wanted to create a magazine that would speak not just to where we are, but to where we hope to be," Markle says of the edition. "In doing so, I knew we needed to both open and close strong. Like a beautiful meal: the first bite sets the tone and the final spoonful leaves you satiated, smiling, and sometimes (if you're dining under the direction of a forward-thinking chef) even inspired."
The Duchess of Sussex goes on to ask, "So how could I bring this issue to its logical conclusion? How could I meet that very lofty self-imposed goal?"
Her answer: The former First Lady of the United States.
Let's take a look at everything we learned from Markle's time with Obama.
1. Markle Asked Obama to Participate Over a "Casual" Chicken Taco Lunch: For the magazine's back page Q&A feature, Markle knew that the special guest had to be "someone kind, inspirational, motivating, funny, with gravitas and as much depth as levity." Markle's second thought? "It needed to be Michelle Obama."
The Duchess of Sussex notes, "So, over a casual lunch of chicken tacos and my ever-burgeoning bump, I asked Michelle if she would help me with this secret project."
2. Markle Was Left "Speechless" When She Received Obama's Interview Answers: "She graciously said yes (because she's Michelle, she's gracious), and then very promptly sent answers (because she's Michelle, she's prompt)," the Duchess of Sussex writes. "What was sent back to me, however, left me somewhat speechless. A few 'simple questions' (which she could have answered with a sentence or two) were returned to me as a thoughtful, reflective and beautifully curated narrative – a gentle reminder not of how but of why she has become such a globally respected public figure."
3. Markle Says Obama Sent Her the "Kindest Message" on Mother's Day: The Duchess of Sussex, who welcomed baby Archie Harrison with husband Prince Harry in early May, says Obama sent her the "kindest message" for her first Mother's Day. The Becoming author, who shares daughters Malia Obama and Sasha Obama with husband Barack Obama, tells Markle, "Being a mother has been a masterclass in letting go. Try as we might, there's only so much we can control. And, boy, have I tried – especially at first."
"As mothers, we just don't want anything or anyone to hurt our babies. But life has other plans," Obama continues. "Bruised knees, bumpy roads and broken hearts are part of the deal. What's both humbled and heartened me is seeing the resiliency of my daughters."
4. Obama Says Her 15-Year-old Self Would "Smile" About How Cute Her Husband Is: For one of Markle's questions, she asks Obama what her younger self would say to her today. "I imagine that she'd be proud of how far I've come – but she wouldn't let me off the hook, either," Obama shares. "I feel like she'd give me one of those silent nods of recognition, you know? She'd remind me there are still too many girls on the South Side of Chicago who are being shushed, cast aside or told they're dreaming too big. She'd tell me to keep fighting for them. If I'm being honest, she'd probably smile about how cute my husband is, too."
5. Obama Is "So Excited" for Markle and Prince Harry: When asked about the "most beautiful sound" she's ever heard, Obama tells Markle, "When Malia and Sasha were newborns, Barack and I could lose hours just watching them sleep. We loved to listen to the little sounds they'd make – especially the way they cooed when they were deep into dreaming."
"Don't get me wrong, early parenthood is exhausting. I'm sure you know a thing or two about that these days," Obama says. "But there is something so magical about having a baby in the house. Time expands and contracts; each moment holds its own little eternity. I'm so excited for you and Harry to experience that, Meghan. Savour it all."
For more from Markle's interview with Obama, head on over to British Vogue! The September issue is available on newsstands and digital download on Friday, Aug. 2.