Whenever she has to make a public appearance, Kate Middleton seemingly chooses her outfit very carefully indeed. The color, the pattern, the designer – it all doubtlessly has to be taken into consideration. After all, if she ever chose to try and conceal a hidden message with her clothing, people would certainly notice. But now that Kate’s been a duchess for the better half of a decade, royal fans are beginning to wonder: is Kate using her wardrobe to pay tribute to Diana, the mother-in-law she never knew? It certainly looks like it.
10. Smart white outfits
Being a princess or a duchess isn’t just about fancy dresses; you also need some neat, professional clothes. One of Diana’s, for example, was a simple white suit dress, which she wore when she visited Sydney’s Sacred Heart Hospice in November 1996. If you hadn’t known it already, your only clue to Diana’s royalty would have been the extravagant earrings in her ears.
Kate too needs to dress like that every now and again, so of course she also keeps various professional-looking outfits in her collection. Indeed, she wore a white Max Mara number when visiting Portsmouth in 2015. And despite its simplicity, it sold out just two hours after she was spotted in it.
9. White lace dresses
A white lace gown isn’t necessarily what you’d imagine for a royal – can you imagine the Queen in one?! But Diana never seemed afraid to push the envelope. She wore this stunning dress while partying with Anna Wintour at a fundraising event for breast cancer in September 1996.
And that has all appeared to have laid the foundation for Kate to experiment with what she wears. For the Royal Ascot in June 2017, for instance, she donned a delicate white lace gown paired with a matching hat. It was more demure than Diana’s and had a higher neckline, but it fitted the occasion perfectly. She also wore a badge identifying her as “HRH the Duchess of Cambridge,” just in case anyone forgot.
8. Red dresses
Diana wore a sparkling red dress to a gala dinner in June 1997. She stood out in her eye-catching gown, which was accessorized with a matching clutch. The event was held at the Museum of Women in the Arts and was in support of landmine victims. Famously, one of Diana’s biggest passions was campaigning against the use of landmines.
It seems that Kate is always careful to match her outfits to the countries she visits. So when she undertook a tour of Canada in 2016, accompanied by her husband and children, she brought out a red Preen number with a brooch to match the Canadian flag. Just like Diana, she looked fantastic in red, and she followed in Diana’s footsteps by having a matching clutch to hand.
7. Casual outfits
Diana apparently didn’t bring out her fancy outfits when she did her most serious activist work. Instead, she dressed like a regular – albeit stylish – person. In January 1997 she was pictured at a Red Cross event in Angola wearing a simple white shirt and beige pants, seemingly determined to get stuck in.
Kate dresses down in a similar way when she needs to. In April 2016 she and William traveled to Bhutan and trekked up to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Like Diana, Kate went for a simple look: white blouse with pockets, darker pants, sensible footwear. And also like Diana, she remembered to bring sunglasses.
6. Green coats
When visiting France in 1992 – without Prince Charles – Diana chose a green coat. It was stylish and simple, but it was also bold and bright. Diana seemingly loved bold colors and grew into them as she became more and more of a media darling. Not bad for someone whom the press once nicknamed “Shy Di.”
Is it surprising that Kate also has a bright green coat in her wardrobe? Far from it. Kate seems to use hers for somber occasions though. In April 2014, during her and William’s tour of Australia and New Zealand, she wore it to visit both a children’s hospice and a war memorial.
5. Lilac dresses
Diana was great at taking just one color and making it work for her. In 1996, for instance, she went to Australia to visit the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute – a place she had a long-running connection with – and wore a simple lilac dress with pearls. She looked professional but also princess-y.
Kate also just so happens to own a lilac dress. Apart from the sleeves, it’s very similar to Diana’s one; it has the same high neckline. Kate wore it while on a tour of Poland and Germany in July 2017, and she apparently made sure the outfits of George and Charlotte were perfectly coordinated with hers, too.
4. White headscarves
Whenever Princess Diana visited a mosque, she was sure to be respectful by wearing a headscarf. But she seemingly made sure that they were stylish ones that matched her light-colored outfits. When she went to Pakistan in February 1996 to partake in some fund-raising, then, she wore a delicate light-blue ensemble.
When Kate visited Kuala Lumpur with William in 2012, the two of them went to the Assyakirin Mosque – the first time a future king of the U.K. had ever visited one. It was a much reported-on occasion, and many people pointed out how much Kate, in her white headscarf, resembled Diana.
3. Beige coats
Many ladies keep a beige coat as a wardrobe staple, and Diana was no exception. Indeed, she owned a sensible jacket that both kept her warm in cold weather and made her outfits look even more nicely put-together. She was seen wearing it at the France-Wales Five Nations game in January 1995.
Kate is also no exception. After all, she travels so much and does so many things that she certainly needs a good coat. Like Diana’s, hers has black buttons and pockets, although it also has lots of little extra bits like buckles and belts. Diana would have loved that jacket, no doubt.
2. Black at Remembrance Day
Remembrance Sunday is a very solemn occasion, one where tribute is paid to victims of war. So naturally, an all-black outfit is appropriate. When she appeared at a 1993 service in Northern Ireland, Diana wore a simple black coat with a collar, paired with a black hat. She also had poppies, the symbol of the World War I war dead, pinned to her clothes.
When Kate Middleton appeared at a London service in November 2016, she bore such a strong resemblance to Diana that the media couldn’t help but comment on it. She was dressed in an almost identical outfit – black coat, black hat, exact same number of poppies in the exact same position – and her composed expressions were also very Diana-like.
1. Post-birth dresses
Royals have a slightly infuriating ability to look flawless just after giving birth to a baby. Diana did, of course – after having Prince William in 1982, she exited St Mary’s Hospital smiling happily and wearing a loosely fitted polka-dotted dress. Prince Charles followed behind her, carrying the tiny heir to the throne.
When Kate gave birth to Prince George in 2013, she and William took him outside to show him off to the waiting crowds. And the dress Kate wore while displaying her newborn struck many as a deliberate nod to Diana: just like her late mother-in-law, she wore a light polka-dotted dress.