The world is watching Meghan Markle even more closely now that she’s officially a duchess. And recently, when she embarked on her first solo outing, everyone kept an eye on what she chose to wear. Comparisons to Kate Middleton, her fellow royal, were almost inevitable. After all, both are fashion icons now.
Since Meghan’s wedding to Prince Harry in May 2018, she’s been out and about with him a few times. Their first joint engagement as a married couple was at a garden party to celebrate the 70th birthday of Prince Charles, Harry’s father. On that occasion, Meghan wore a pink pencil dress from Goat – and within an hour of her being photographed in it, the label’s website crashed from all the attention.
This happens a lot with Meghan’s outfits! The American-born royal’s influence is so great, in fact, that she can practically make or break a fashion company. Whenever she chooses to wear something from a smaller company, the firm sees interest in it, and its products shoot right up. But on the other hand, some people in the UK have complained that Meghan wears non-British brands too frequently.
Kate’s influence is incredibly wide-reaching as well, albeit in slightly different areas. In 2012, Newsweek reported that Kate was worth well over a billion dollars to the British fashion industry. Everything she wore flew off the shelves – and so did everything the duchess chose to dress her young children in too.
What’s more, onlookers often compare Kate and Meghan’s individual style choices. Why? Well, people have observed that while both royal ladies wear clothes that are expensive and appropriate to the occasion, there are slight differences in their tastes. Meghan is more daring and modern, while Kate is more careful and classical.
It is no surprise, then, that the pair’s inaugural solo engagements were compared and contrasted. You see, the first unaccompanied engagement is a big deal for a new royal – they don’t have any other members of the family to rely on and must push forward on their own. And Kate’s first solo outing took place six months after she married Prince William, in October 2011.
The event, a dinner at Clarence House for the charity In Kind Direct, was actually one that Kate was a little under-prepared for – but she seemed to rise to the occasion magnificently. In fact, Prince Charles should have been there instead, but the heir to the British throne was called away at the last minute when the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia died. Part of Charles’ own royal duties, you see, include sending condolences to other ruling families.
“The Duchess of Cambridge was delighted to be able to step in for her father-in-law, The Prince of Wales, to celebrate the work of In Kind Direct at the dinner,” a palace spokesperson told the media at the time. “The duchess had a little bit of time beforehand to prepare for the engagement – it all went very well.”
In Kind Direct also released a statement praising Kate. “We were delighted that the duchess was able to step in at such short notice after our founder was unexpectedly called away,” the chief executive, Robin Boles, said. “The duchess hosted a very special evening with absolute professionalism and charm.”
When Meghan prepared for her first solo engagement, then, everyone hoped that hers would be just as much a success. And it was. She went to the Royal Academy of Arts in London to view the opening of an art exhibit called Oceania, featuring art from the Pacific Islands and Australia. The date picked out for this was September 25, 2018 – a date that likely held special significance for Meghan.
That’s because September 25, 2017, was the date of Meghan’s first ever public appearance with Prince Harry – a display that made it clear that they were a devoted couple. They had actually been dating for over a year at that point, but the couple had kept their relationship as quiet and private as possible. It wasn’t long after that event, though, that the pair made their engagement announcement.
The media made note of Meghan’s sentimental gesture. And they also made a note of her outfit. The duchess was wearing a black Givenchy dress with matching clutch and shoes from Aquazzura. The dress featured a couple of Meghan’s trademarks: it was partly sheer, a look Meghan famously wore for one of her engagement photos with Harry.
And the other trademark was Givenchy itself, the label responsible for the duchess’ famous wedding dress, designed by Clare Waight Keller, the first female artistic director of the company. Meghan has worn Givenchy several times and appears to be a huge fan of the fashion house.
Meanwhile, Meghan’s shoes caused a stir too, as she had worn the same Aquazzura pair to Queen Elizabeth’s Young Leaders Awards Ceremony earlier in the year. In fact, Meghan seems to be a big fan of Aquazzura – she wore the brand at both her engagement photoshoot and on her wedding day.
Nevertheless, it seems that Meghan’s first solo outing outfit was always going to be compared to Kate’s. And Kate’s was actually almost the polar opposite of Meghan’s. While Meghan wore chic black, Kate wore a formal light grey dress with silver details. Designed by Amanda Wakeley, Kate had the piece modified slightly, with the waistline raised on her instruction.
Moreover, Kate had brought some expensive jewelry out for the occasion too, sporting a sparkling bracelet and earrings. And like Meghan, she recycled some shoes that she had already worn once that year, at a gala dinner for BAFTA in Los Angeles. They were Jimmy Choo Vamps, which retail for about $750.
And it seems that people always scrutinize the royals’ clothes. Sure enough, the microscopes came out for both Kate’s and Meghan’s outfits. Some royal fans on Facebook said that Kate shouldn’t have opted for a gown with bare shoulders as it was too immodest. Meanwhile, OK! magazine suggested that Meghan’s all-black outfit went against royal protocol.
But both Kate and Meghan do appear to break protocol every now and again. You see, Kate has worn wedge heels on occasion, for example, even though the Queen reportedly disapproves of them. And Meghan has often appeared with bare legs, which was once a massive no-no among royals.
What’s more, the media often speculates on what the relationship between Kate and Meghan is actually like. In many ways, the two duchesses seem to be very similar. Both love sports, both went to university, both are great at fashion, and of course both were whisked away from “commoner” status to become royalty via marriage.
The pair have been snapped together at royal events too, and they always appear to be getting along just fine. And according to people in the know, there’s never a hint of animosity between them. That’s good news – maybe one day, then, they’ll start sharing outfits!