Meghan Markle made headlines after she declared herself a feminist on the British monarchy’s website — but it’s no surprise, given that her efforts for equality started at a young age.
Meghan was inspired to change a TV commercial at the age of 11, after having seen a Procter & Gamble commercial that advertised its Ivory dishwashing soap solely to women.
Maria Pollia — a teacher at Immaculate Heart, Meghan’s high school— explains in this week’s issue of PEOPLE that the future royal was “troubled” by the ad.
“She went home to her father and said, ‘What’ll I do, because this is wrong?’ Her father advised her to write to someone,” Pollia said. “She wrote to famed women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred as well as Procter & Gamble, who updated the ad.”
Allred added, “Meghan was action-oriented and wanted to know what she could do.”
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The commercial for the soap struck Meghan as unfair and insensitive when she heard “women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.”
“I don’t think it’s right for kids to grow up thinking these things, that just mom does everything,” the then 11-year-old said during an interview with Nick News uncovered by Inside Edition.
For more about the show and how women are shaping the House of Windsor, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE on newsstands on Friday.
Meghan’s social studies class had been assigned to watch commercials and assess them. The assignment led to a monumental moment for the future royal.
“I said, ‘Wait a minute. How could somebody say that?’” Meghan said in the interview. “Just about one out of every three commercials is going to say something that’s going to hurt somebody’s feelings.”
Meghan decided to write to the company and asked them to change their slogan from “Women all over America” to “People all over America” — and they did.
Meghan said about the moment during a speech at the United Nations two decades later, “At the age of 11, I had created my small level of impact by standing up for equality.”
Pollia is one of many sources who speak in depth about the Queen, her family, the past and future of the royal family in The Story of The Royals, a two-night television event presented by PEOPLE, airs August 22 and August 23 (9:00-11:00 p.m. EDT) on ABC.
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