It’s not every day you interview a member of the royal family, but Lady Amelia Windsor isn’t your run-of-the-mill royal, as I quickly find out when she joins me over Zoom from her family home in Cambridge.
Windsor enters the chat with her hair pulled back in a carefree fashion, wearing a simple oversize gray knit taken from her treasured sweater drawer. Windsor calls her jumpers “old friends” (“At different times, they’ve come to your rescue”) and painstakingly protects her pals from the threat of moths by putting orange peels in her drawers, a tip she took from a market-stall trader on Portobello Road.
Many of us have come to assume that royal protocol protects its members against being too, well, human, but everyone who encounters Windsor instantly discovers an absolute darling. The 27-year-old is affable, ultra polite, and clearly smart. She is engaged with the world and passionate about the environment, and she lists gardening as her favorite pastime. For someone who has been working in the rather conspicuous and loud realm of fashion for some time now, she is surprisingly shy, and it is endearing. During our chat, Windsor apologizes continuously for the royally bad Wi-Fi as well as her answers and the fact that she likes to take time to think about them.
Well, let’s start at the very beginning with what’s been on her agenda today. “Jury duty,” Windsor replies, once again delivering something unexpected. “On my lunch break, I wandered around the streets of Cambridge. I’ve never lived anywhere else [with my family], but I walked down streets I’ve never been on, which was quite nice.” As someone who spent much of their teenage years in Cambridge frequenting the small pool of nightclubs on rotation, I start listing off the after-dark highlights…
“I’ve never actually gone out in Cambridge,” she confesses, much to my clear horror at the absence of this rite of passage. “It’s really sad because I walk around Cambridge and see people my age and think, ‘Oh, I wish!’ I just don’t really have any friends here sadly. I look at them, [and] I’m like, ‘Is it weird to go up to you and ask if we can be friends?’” By this point, we are precisely one minute and 38 seconds into the interview, and we make (what I imagine are faux) plans to go out out. “Let’s go!” she laughs.
Windsor, as an extended member of the royal family, is 42nd in line to the throne through her paternal grandfather, the Duke of Kent, and despite her status and title, she prefers to be called Mel. “I am very happy for anyone to call me Mel,” she says. “It’s a nice way of breaking down [barriers] when you meet someone. … You’re automatically just on a nice, friendly basis with everyone you meet. I’m not really someone who thinks that only my favorite people can call me my [shortened] name.”
Having previously been dubbed by the UK media as the “royal family’s first influencer” thanks to her fashion sense and presence in the industry, Windsor has carved out a modeling career that has seen her grace the covers of Tatler, Vogue Japan, and now Who What Wear; take the lead in campaigns for the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Illamasqua; and become a front-row attendee at shows for brands such as Dior. As Windsor has been a model with Storm for six years—an agency that also represents Cindy Bruna, Behati Prinsloo, and Alek Wek—I wonder whether her experience has been a confidence boost. “[Storm has] given me a lot of confidence, and they’ve always been there. So much guidance, patience, and I’ve learned a lot,” she tells me.
When I ask how modeling has shaped her relationship with beauty and her own self-worth, her demeanor shifts a bit. It’s obvious Windsor becomes nervous and slightly reluctant when more personal questions arise. It’s understandable, given the media’s unquenchable thirst for any information about the world’s most famous family. “Okay,” she says, taking a breath and preparing herself to go back in. “It’s important to just take a step back, just realize what actually matters, and not be too self-critical of what your appearance looks like because that’s not what matters at the end of the day. Everyone is beautiful in their own unique way.”
“At first when I started [modeling], it could be a bit nerve-racking,” she adds. “You do feel a bit nervous and lack the self-confidence to really feel like you can be yourself. With time, it is amazing because you find yourself in situations where you might not know anyone, but that’s such good life training because it just shows you to just go for it. Just as long as you’re kind, friendly, and open to people, then you’re not doing anything wrong. People can always not accept you, but that’s fine as long as you’re a good person.” She concludes with, “I feel like I’m not totally making sense,” questioning what was a perfectly constructed answer.
Windsor and I revel in the fact that being pushed out of your comfort zone is often a rewarding experience. “Yeah! It’s really good for you, and it allows you to learn who you are as a person as well, meeting new people,” she says. “That’s what I love the most about [modeling] is that you meet people you might never have the luck and the privilege to meet. It’s such a joy listening to lots of different stories, and that’s the best part—the people aspect of it all. That’s what we’re meant to do as humans. We’re meant to communicate with one another.”
It’s that work ethic and enthusiasm for the industry that has led Windsor to her next exciting project: a collaboration with the iconic luxury footwear brand Pretty Ballerinas that arrived this month. A year or so in the making, Amelia Windsor x Pretty Ballerinas is a super-cute range of summer shoes inspired by a childhood holiday to Menorca, where the Spanish footwear brand has been creating its wares since 1918. Windsor, by all accounts, has been heavily involved in the line from start to finish, visiting the family-run factory and its 60 artisans in Menorca and pushing for the collection to be as sustainable as possible, which has resulted in the use of organic cotton and recycled soles.
Featuring naïve illustrations on dolly-ish silhouettes, the heart-emblazoned ballet flats, fun slides, and lip-printed low-heel pumps achieve what Windsor truly wanted from the project, which was to “give people joy, happiness, and a sense of being uplifted.” I was intrigued to understand how the prettiness of these pumps matched up to Windsor, a self-proclaimed bit of a tomboy that you’d normally find in baggy jeans and T-shirts. She explains that the range highlights that she’s “probably a bit silly and [doesn’t] really have a style.” “Every day, I wear a different style. It’s quite nice being able to just wake up in the morning and see what character you feel like being that day. Depending on what you need, your clothes can give you different strengths,” she adds.
Whilst Windsor is expressing herself through design, she is still sketching out her true path. “I’ve just been going with the flow and seeing where life takes me and just being constantly grateful for the wonderful opportunities and the people I’ve met along the way,” she says. “I don’t think I’ve fully figured out who I am. We’re constantly evolving. We’re never one thing.”
What she does know, however, is that the next big plan involves getting her hands dirty. “What I’m reading about at the moment is gardening. I absolutely love it. I don’t do it enough myself—I have done some volunteer gardening, but I’m a fraud of a gardener because I don’t do it enough. I just love reading about it and try to do it as much as I can,” she says.
Slightly surprised by her admission, I wonder, why gardening? “It makes you so happy. It’s so good for you,” Windsor says. “You are outside all the time. The soil gives you amazing bacteria, gives you serotonin. It’s a way to meet different people if you do volunteer gardening. I’ve met some of the nicest people, and if it’s done sustainably, it can be a great thing for the planet. So it’s a win-win situation.” In fact, it turns out that this grounding hobby is a metaphor for her own life. “It’s just so therapeutic and peaceful, and it’s also just a way of accepting that you just go with the seasons. If something doesn’t work in your garden, it’s like, ‘It’s all right. I’ll try again next time.’ And realizing it’s just a part of nature that things might not grow or something might eat them, you just go with it and just carry on. It teaches you to go with the flow,” she says.
I look out of my window at my dying plants, and I turn to Windsor as my new gardening guru—my millennial Alan Titchmarsh, if you will—and ask her if talking to the plants might resurrect them. “I actually do it with my houseplants a little bit,” she admits, letting me know they are called Geraldine and Esmerelda.
As our chat wraps up, our previous plan of a night out turns to Windsor volunteering to come over to help me with my plants. Always expect the unexpected from this lady.
Amelia Windsor x Pretty Ballerinas is now available.
Photographer: Suleika Mueller
Photography Assistants: Harry Burner and Ana Margarita Flores
Stylist: Remy Farrell
Styling Assistant: Florrie Alexander
Hairstylist: Lewis Stanford at Eighteen Management using Oribe
Makeup Artist: Lans Nguyen-Grealis at Eighteen Management using Victoria Beckham Beauty
Manicurist: Chisato Yamamoto at Caren using OPI
Creative Director: Alexa Wiley
Editor in Chief: Hannah Almassi
Entertainment Director: Jessica Baker
Producer: Samantha Obalim
This story originally appeared on Who What Wear UK.