When the first glimpse of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah was released last Sunday, it soon became clear that Meghan’s carefully-chosen look for the appearance incorporated nods to her husband’s late mother, Princess Diana.
The Duchess’s outfit included a diamond tennis bracelet worn by Diana towards the end of her life, most famously at a reception to celebrate Christie’s auction of dresses from her royal life. Many noted too how Meghan’s eyes were emphasised by thick kohl eyeliner, a technique used by the Princess of Wales when she gave an interview to Panorama in 1995 in which she famously said that, ‘there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a little crowded.’ This week’s previews have suggested Oprah’s sit-down with the Sussexes may produce a quote to rival this historic statement.
In the interview, we already know that Harry tells Oprah that his “ biggest concern was history repeating itself”, an allusion to the struggles faced by his mother. This makes Meghan’s use of Diana’s style cues less a subtle nod and more a clear visual link between past and present.
It is not the first time though that the Duchess has taken inspiration from the way Diana used fashion to assert herself in the royal family. At times when she couldn’t speak out herself, she often chose clothes which helped to tell a story for her.
These are four instances where Diana and Meghan’s sartorial tactics have aligned…
The evening tailoring
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement just as the world was engulfed in the #MeToo scandal, with allegations emerging against Harvey Weinstein. Hollywood reacted to the revelation with the Time’s Up campaign, which asked actresses to bring attention to the cause of sexual violence and discrimination by wearing black on the red carpet.
Embarking on royal life, former actress Meghan wasn’t attending the film awards ceremonies herself, but she used her first evening engagement with Harry to signal her support for the cause by wearing a black trouser suit instead of the glamorous cocktail dress which had been expected.
This was a decision which echoed Princess Diana’s decision to eschew the frou-frou gowns which dominated her royal wardrobe in the early ‘80s in favour of slick, menswear-inspired tailoring later in the decade.
These suit moments signalled a streak of daring independence from the Princess, giving her a refreshed, modern image in the same way that Meghan’s Alexander McQueen suit hinted that she would be unafraid to show her personal beliefs through her clothing.
The revenge dress was arguably the Princess of Wales’ most famous fashion moment. On the evening that her husband admitted to adultery, Diana arrived at the Serpentine Summer Party looking a million dollars, and showing more arm, leg and cleavage than would ever have felt right for her before.
The Christina Stambolian LBD was a sensation, a huge success for Diana in creating public admiration for her in a moment which could have been humiliating.
For Meghan, revenge dressing was a strategy she directed at the very concept of royal life. A year ago this week, she and Harry carried out their final engagements as working royals and the Duchess planned a wardrobe to wow.
Wearing a scarlet gown by Safiyaa which perfectly matched Harry’s military uniform on the final occasion he would be able to wear it, Meghan looked glamorous, bold and passionate. Meanwhile, a vibrant grass green Emilia Wickstead dress for the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey came with a cape detail which made her look like she was literally about to flutter away.
These outfits may not have had the risqué edge of Diana’s revenge outfit but they gave Meghan a composed, confident and sophisticated exit from her brief spell as a working royal – cape flying high.