Seeing as how she’s the newest member of the British royal family – even though she’s not technically one of them just yet – Meghan Markle’s fashion choices meet with plenty of discussion and scrutiny. And the outfit that she wore on her first official outing with the Queen was no exception. People wondered if her striking white beret was a subtle nod to somebody she had spoken about before.
Meghan’s clothing has been analyzed by the media and the public for a long time. On the day of her engagement to Prince Harry, many photographs were taken, and each of them was observed with a critical eye. The outfit that drew the most attention was an embroidered Ralph & Russo sheer dress. Royals tend to shy away from sheer. It’s considered far too risqué.
Yet Meghan was happy to pose in one, and her fans were thrilled. The former actress wasn’t about to bend to all the fashion demands of the royal family, of which there are plenty. Royal girls shouldn’t wear bright nail varnish, for instance, and royal boys must wear shorts until they’re eight. And duchesses and princesses should never, ever show cleavage or bare legs.
Meghan was happy to break that last rule as well. In her engagement photos with Harry, she appeared to be wearing no tights. She’s not alone in ditching them, however – Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, has also done so every now and again. It was still a pretty daring choice, by the standards of the royal family, for Meghan to take, though.
But people nonetheless loved those choices, and soon the Meghan Effect began to take hold. Fashion fans wanted to get their hands on virtually everything that she was seen wearing, in fact. The white coat that she sported in the engagement photos proved particularly popular. Indeed, the website of its designer, Line the Label, crashed due to the sudden wave of interest. The co-founder of the company subsequently announced that he was renaming the jacket “Meghan.”
The media has observed that there are sometimes hidden meanings in Meghan’s outfits and jewelry choices. And when she visited Birmingham with her husband-to-be on March 8, 2016, people noticed that she was wearing a bracelet with a small cross on it. It was a sign, it seemed, that she had been baptized into the Church of England, which Queen Elizabeth II is the head of.
The white jumper that Meghan wore that day drew comments as well. March 8 was also International Women’s Day, and people wondered if Meghan’s choice of white was a nod to the Suffragettes and women’s rights movements. Many powerful women throughout history, including Hillary Clinton and Shirley Chisholm, have worn white during iconic moments.
And for her first outing with one of the most powerful women in the world – Queen Elizabeth II – Meghan again opted for a white ensemble. Appearing alongside the grandmother of her husband-to-be at a service to mark Commonwealth Day on March 12, she wore a gorgeous blue dress with a white coat and matching white beret.
But it seemed that there was more to the headwear than just its color. Meghan’s beret was designed by Stephen Jones, a favorite of Princess Diana, the mother-in-law whom Meghan will never meet. Before her untimely death in 1997, Diana was often seen sporting berets. And the connection most certainly didn’t go unnoticed by those reporting on the event.
“Meghan Markle’s beret today is by Stephen Jones, also preferred milliner of the late Princess Diana, who wore one of his berets in 1982,” wrote CNN reporter Kate Bennett on Twitter. “I love a fashion homage. Also, I’m not crying, you’re crying.” Moreover, the ways in which Diana’s influence remains visible in the modern royal family has been often remarked upon.
Meghan’s engagement ring is also a tribute to Diana. Harry helped to design it himself, in fact, with the assistance of royal jewelry-makers Cleave and Company. The main stone is a diamond from Botswana, the place where Harry fell in love with his future bride. But the two diamonds on each side of it are from Diana’s personal jewelry collection.
Harry spoke about his mother and the ring during the first post-engagement interview that he and Meghan conducted. “The little diamonds either side [of the ring] are from my mother’s jewelry collection, to make sure that she’s with us on this crazy journey together,” he told the BBC. “Obviously, not being able to meet his mom, it’s so important to me to know that she’s a part of this with us,” Meghan added.
Harry said in the same interview that he believed his mother would have been “best friends” with Meghan. “It’s days like today when I really miss having her around and miss being able to share the happy news,” he added. “But you know with the ring and with everything else that’s going on I’m sure she’s…” “She’s with us,” Meghan finished for him.
So it’s not in the least bit surprising that Meghan would choose to emulate Diana through her fashion choices. And it isn’t just the beret, either. When Meghan stepped out in a checked jacket during a visit to Cardiff Castle in January 2018, the media pointed out that Diana, too, had been a fan of check-print outfits.
Meghan also likes the designer Amanda Wakeley – she wore a Wakeley coat and dress along with the white beret, in fact. And Diana was a big fan of her as well, often being photographed in outfits from the designer. Meghan isn’t the only royal to follow in Diana’s footsteps in that regard – Kate Middleton has also been seen wearing Wakeley dresses.
The similarities between Meghan and Diana as people are another thing that the media has picked up on. Both were or are considered slightly rebellious, especially regarding their fashion choices. Diana famously didn’t always wear gloves back when it was a royal requirement. Reportedly, she thought that they made her seem unapproachable.
Eleri Lynn, the curator of the exhibition Diana: Her Fashion Story, spoke to Hello in 2017 about Diana’s choices. “She abandoned the royal protocol of wearing gloves, because she liked to hold hands when visiting people or shake hands and have direct contact,” Lynn explained. “She also stopped wearing hats because she said, ‘You can’t cuddle a child in a hat.’”
And that opinion seems to be one that Meghan shares. She’s shaping up to be every bit the down-to-earth royal that Diana was. When she visited Cardiff Castle, for example, she was snapped playing table tennis with children at a charity event. And when she went to Birmingham in March 2018, she met a group of schoolchildren and knelt down to speak to them at their level.
But Meghan will only officially become a royal when she marries Harry, and that’s set to happen on May 19, 2018. Royal-watchers are buzzing about what Meghan might wear for the big occasion. And there’s a strong possibility that Meghan might pay tribute to Diana on that day, too. In fact, she may even choose to wear one of Diana’s tiaras as she walks down the aisle.
“Both on her wedding day and on a number of other formal occasions, Princess Diana wore a tiara owned by her family, known as the Spencer Tiara,” insiders told Marie Claire on March 19, 2018. “There are rumors that the Spencer family may lend it to their nephew’s bride for the occasion of their wedding in May.” If so, that’s very exciting news indeed. And there’s no doubt that Meghan would look absolutely fantastic in it.