Meghan Markle Keeps Hiding Royal References in Her Clothes—What Gives?

It definitely caught my eye

meghan markle royal nods in clothes universal
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If there’s anything to be gleaned about royal style, it’s that their clothing choices carry meaning. How could they not? When you think of the late Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana and even the current Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton, more often than not, their sartorial decisions have given them a voice—or at the very least defined their personal brand—in a job where they don’t always get to speak up.

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That’s part of the reason it’s so fun to keep such close tabs. Shopping interest aside, when a fan account clocks a royal family member’s style, it often provides an opportunity to derive hidden meaning behind what they’re wearing. Yes, occasionally, the choices are quite obvious—like when Kate chose a Sentaler coat (and Canadian-based designer) for a royal tour of Canada—but other times, the choices are subtle. (In the case of Diana alone, think of the significance behind pieces ranging from the black sheep sweater to the “revenge” dress.)

That brings us to Meghan Markle. She’s no longer a senior working member of the royal family, but as the Duchess of Sussex, her royal ties—and the eagle eye trained on her fashion—remain. She’s also no stranger to making sartorial decisions where a line can be drawn. (Remember when she wore the “husband” shirt to an Invictus Games event with Prince Harry well ahead of announcing their engagement?)

meghan markle nigeria husband shirt
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This is exactly why a few recent ensembles caused me—and many other royal experts and watchers—to take note. First, a quick flash back to February when Meghan wore a coat called the “Kensington” for an Invictus Games kick-off event with Prince Harry in Whistler, Canada. Fast forward a few weeks to March when Meghan (and Harry) found themselves in San Antonio, Texas, for an Archewell-tied visit to an organization called the Welcome Project. Meghan chose a jacket called the “Diana” for that.

Finally, just this month while on a trip to Nigeria, again on behalf of the Invictus Games and alongside Prince Harry, Meghan wore a gorgeous maxi dress from designer Heidi Merrick that garnered quite a few headlines. It’s name? “The Windsor.”

Now, the sartorial head-scratcher: Is Meghan intentionally nodding to her royal roots...or is this all just a coincidence?

meghan markle london and invictus games
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According to Bethan Holt, fashion director at the Telegraph and author of The Queen: 70 Years of Majestic Style, coincidence? It is not. “Meghan will be aware by now of the extra attention paid to her style choices and that it won’t go unnoticed that she is wearing pieces that allude to Harry’s royal background,” she says. “In a way, it’s a clever move because it provides a subtle reminder of the Sussexes’ royal links despite them very clearly carving their own path, but without being so obvious that it’s seen as cynical, like if she copied a Princess Diana outfit, for example.”

Elizabeth Holmes, royal expert and author of HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style, agrees. “Upon hearing the style names of pieces Meghan has worn, I always smile,” Holmes says. “This is someone who is deeply familiar with the language of fashion, thanks to her days on screen working with a costume designer and as a very successful influencer covering fashion on her lifestyle blog the Tig. Meghan knows how this world works—and she has long before she joined the royal fold.” (Cue a reference from Holmes to the aforementioned “husband” shirt.)

But given the fact that including messages in your clothing is a hallmark of royal dressing, what is Meghan’s message here? Can we infer any meaning from the effort to connect the dots back to her royal life, especially when the state of family relations currently isn’t so great? Is it an olive branch perhaps?

“It’s important for Meghan and Harry’s public profile and work that they continue to remind us of their royal past,” Holt says. “Fashion is a great tool for this.”

Ultimately, it’s very smart, adds Holmes. “I think this shows Meghan knows very well that her fashion is as much a talking point now as it was during her time as a senior working royal,” she says. “To add that extra layer of thought to it—it helps draw attention to the work she and Harry are doing and it feels like a fun ‘Easter Egg’ at a time when, thanks to Taylor Swift, the internet really loves that sort of thing.”

With the launch of American Riviera Orchard on the horizon, I think it’s safe to assume there’s more to come.

Rachel Bowie Headshot

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...