From their wedding dress to the clothes they pack for international tours, what a Royal wears can tell us a lot about who they are, how they feel and the message they are trying to convey. The Royal Family may not say much, but their fashion choices can start trends, make careers and promote social change.
From Diana’s journey from crumpled princess to sophisticated lady and Meghan Markle’s Hollywood glamour turned demur Princess with a twist, every outfit tells a story. Join us as we delve into the meaning behind the Royal wardrobe in True Royalty’s exclusive documentary, ‘Meghan Markle: Inside The Wardrobe of a Princess’
The Story Behind The Wedding Dress
Many women see their wedding as their ‘princess day’, but for Diana, Kate and Meghan, it was literally the first time they presented themselves to the world as a member of the Royal Family. A Royal wedding dress is a defining moment which establishes the Princess’s style and shows what kind of Royal she is going to be.
With this dress, the Royal bride is basically saying, ‘Hello world, I’m a princess!’ The stakes couldn’t be higher.
Fashion blogger Jessica Morgan describes Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding gown as the ‘Quintessential Princess dress’. “It’s telling of Princess Diana’s gown that I thought it was the most amazing dress I’d ever seen in my life, because I was five,” says Jessica.
Unfortunately, the dress got crumpled in the carriage on the way to the church and ended up looking like an ‘unmade bed’, according to Eve Pollard, a broadcaster and journalist.
In hindsight, the unfortunate fate of the dress foreshadowed how Diana’s marriage would play out. “She seemed a little lost inside it as she later became lost in the marriage,” says journalist Hannah Betts. “It was a romantic confection which couldn’t quite hold, already creasing. One does tend to read the fate of the marriage back into it.”
Meghan’s wedding dress was chic, simple and grown up.“She was saying this is a modern dress for a modern girl going into probably the biggest job of my life,” says Emily Andrews, Royal Correspondent at The Sun.
While Meghan’s wedding dress was simple, the veil was intricately embroidered with flowers representing the 53 nations of the commonwealth – a way of subtly paying tribute to her grandmother-in-law. The flowers also represented the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s plan to make themselves the more international, commonwealth-focused Royal couple.
The Story Behind The High Street Dress
When Kate first got married in 2011, she was nicknamed ‘Queen of the High Street’ because she wore a lot of chain brands like Zara, TopShop and H&M. As Kate was neither born into the aristocracy or a former celebrity, she used these clothes to show the public that she was a ‘normal girl’ who dressed like them.
This ‘participatory’ fashion made the Duchess of Cambridge very popular, because she seemed to be bringing an air of relatability to the Royal Family.
Fashion blogger, Heather Cocks, says, “It felt like very participatory fashion, looks you could not only aspire to but actually acquire. I think she was extremely calculated in being like ‘I’m not going to look like I showed up and was like great, let’s open up the bank account, throw money around and roll around in it.”
As Kate has become more confident in her role, she has opted for more high end designer brands to reflect her status as the future Queen consort.
How The Royals Make Careers
If you are a fashion designer and a member of the Royal Family wears one of your creations, it can make you famous literally overnight. “Meghan and Kate are massive for the fashion industry,” explains Katie Nicholl, Royal Correspondent for Vanity Fair, “whatever they wear, it sells out.”
Cecile Reinaud, Founder & CEO of Seraphone, experienced the ‘Kate effect’ first hand when the Duchess of Cambridge wore one of their maternity dresses in a photograph with Prince George.
She says, “Our website nearly crashed, we sold all the stock of the dress within the space of a couple of hours. This is five years ago and that dress still remains one of our best selling models. To have a brand be worn by Kate is an amazing endorsement and a springboard for the brand to be known internationally.”
Outland Denim, an ethical jeans brand, experienced the ‘Meghan’ effect when the Duchess of Sussex wore a pair of their jeans on her Australia tour with Harry. “We woke up and looked at our phone screens and they were full of messages,” says James Bartle, Founder and CEO of Outland Denim. “The jeans sold out within 24 hours.”
Making A Statement
The Royal Family tend to keep out of politics, but their clothes sometimes tell a different story. “Royal women throughout history have used their clothes as their voice,” says journalist Hannah Betts.
If one royal was a master at using her fashion choices to convey a message, it was Princess Diana. “One of Princess Diana’s most notorious incidents of meaningful dressing was the revenge dress,” says Heather.
The night that Prince Charles publicly admitted his affair with Camilla, Diana attended the Serpentine gala wearing a stunning black dress to show that she wasn’t going to let herself be pushed around anymore.
After her divorce, Diana began wearing sexier, more glamorous outfits. She was a single, modern woman in her mid 30’s and she wasn’t afraid to be daring in her fashion choices.
A potentially political statement by Queen Elizabeth II when she opened parliament after 2016 Brexit vote wearing a blue hat with yellow flowers which resembled the EU flag.
“It’s not a coincidence,” says fashion blogger Jessica, “she does not do anything by accident. Of course it looked like that intentionally. I absolutely think she did that on purpose.”
“I think when you’re in a place where you’re not supposed to use your voice, what else can you use? Use your hat!” agrees Heather Cocks.
Discover more stories behind Royal outfits in True Royalty’s exclusive documentary Meghan Markle: Inside The Wardrobe Of A Princess