It hasn’t even been a month since Meghan Markle joined “The Firm,” but she’s already been front and center at two major events with Prince Harry and the rest of the royal family. The first, a mere three days after her wedding, was a garden party at Buckingham Palace celebrating Prince Charles’ 70th birthday (the actual date is in November), and the other was the recent Trooping the Colour, the ceremonial event commemorating Queen Elizabeth’s birthday. Judging by appearances, Meghan is determined to look every inch an HRH.
Having garnered high marks for her classically elegant wedding gown designed by Givenchy’s Clare Waight Keller, royal watchers were eager to see how the former actress would dress to impress at these official functions now that she has a very different audience watching her every move. Meghan’s penchant for unembellished, pared-down styles translated into two strikingly similar dresses for her first two outings as the Duchess of Sussex. She wore a pale taupe shift with a sheer inset and sleeves by the British label, Goat, for Charles’ party and a pastel rose Carolina Herrera off-the-shoulder dress for Trooping the Colour.
And, taking a page out of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge’s style playbook, she shopped her closet and wore the same Philip Treacy hat to both events.
The Duchess of Cambridge is a known recycler of her favorite accessories and dresses. For years, she seemingly wore the same LK Bennett nude pumps with everything. She has also been known to wear the same dresses and coats over the course of a season and has worn many of the same maternity looks during all three pregnancies. Catherine favors designer labels like Alexander McQueen and Erdem for her “working wardrobe,” but also wears inexpensive “high street” designs from stores like Zara (like the $70 linen dress she wore to Prince William’s polo match this past weekend) when she’s “off-duty” with the family.
“The duchess is quite savvy about her wardrobe,” said one royal insider. “She enjoys fashion, but doesn’t want to be thought of as fashion obsessed. Like every other modern young woman, she has much more important things to worry about than her clothes.”
Meghan’s decision to wear understated dresses and the same Philip Treacy hat to two back-to-back events shows that she is being conscious of not appearing like she’s spending a fortune buying a whole new wardrobe now that she’s a member of the royal family. Her choice of a $75,000 Ralph & Russo dress for her official engagement portrait raised some eyebrows among those who thought it was a rather extravagant decision (especially compared to Catherine’s $300 Reiss engagement portrait dress which she already owned and has worn repeatedly since then). This makes Meghan’s more conservative post-wedding choices all the more interesting.
Everything Meghan wore for royal appearances before the wedding was paid for out of her own pocket and is estimated to have cost her close to $200,000 (including the engagement dress), but with a net worth of a reported $5 million, she could easily afford it. Now that she’s married into the royal family, her clothing budget is considered an expense and is paid for by the Duchy of Cornwall, Prince Charles’ estate. Royals are not permitted to accept free clothes from designers.
The Duchy of Cornwall pays out a reported $28 million a year to Charles, who then allocated the funds to the young royals for their household expenses which includes staff salaries, office costs, and yes, clothes. Prince Harry has plenty of money in his own right—he inherited $13.4 million from his late mother Princess Diana when he turned 30—so Meghan doesn’t have to shop the sale rack, but she is aware of what criticism of her shopping habits could do.
“Meghan knows everything she does is being watched very carefully,” said my source. “She sees Kate being very smart about how she balances looking stylish without appearing extravagant and is following the same strategy. If she follows Kate’s example, she’ll do fine. Then again, it could also be that she isn’t used to buying hats and just wanted to stick with the one that works for now. She’ll definitely need a lot more of them in the future.” And for more great royals coverage, check out the one royal rule Meghan will hate.