Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton Are Having a Very Glamorous Fashion Duel

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

And so the endless, terminal saga of the royals continues. In Harry & Meghan, out today on Netflix, there are many opinions being shared, many claims being made—and many calculated looks being deployed to highlight everything in triplicate.

In the documentary, Meghan Markle, since-ousted former breakout star of the royal family, spends much of the first three episodes talking about just how intense it feels to be at the center of a royal spectacle. In episode three, while pointing out how there’s zero training or preparation given to anyone on the precipice of becoming royal, she discusses the outfits she wore when first becoming a member of the family.

Royal Insider Taunts Netflix: ‘Harry & Meghan’ Is a $100M Bust

“Most of the time that I was in the UK, I rarely wore color,” Meghan says in an interview. “To my understanding, you can’t ever wear the same color as Her Majesty if there’s a group event, but then you also shouldn't be wearing the same color as one of the other more senior members of the family. So I was like, ‘Well, what's a color that they'll probably never wear? Camel? Beige? White?’ So I wore a lot of muted tones, but it also was so I could just blend in.”

Thus far, the documentary is heavy on inane details such as this: on camera, Meghan is clad in neutrals similar to the ones she deployed to blend in with the royals: soft gray knits and crisp whites that mesh with the Montecito home she shares with Harry. The visual effect is pleasant, but it slides right off your brain as though you hadn’t even watched anything.

The release of the documentary comes during two weeks of intense royal fashion, with an intriguing, silent sartorial duel being waged between Meghan and Kate Middleton, England’s future queen, who have been waging a full-on PR optics war in anticipation of the release of the Netflix documentary series.

On Monday, Meghan and Harry landed in New York ahead of the Netflix premiere, and for her charm offensive, Meghan has been opting for sleek, unfussy ensembles with an unmistakable dose of Hollywood glamour. Stepping off the plane, Archetypes podcaster Meghan was clad in all black and wearing a pair of huge black sunglasses for a slyly non-incognito incognito look. Very off-duty A-list actress, and it’s always worth mentioning: the woman is just ridiculously beautiful.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends the 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala at New York Hilton on December 06, 2022 in New York City.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala</div>

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends the 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala at New York Hilton on December 06, 2022 in New York City.

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala

On Tuesday night, Meghan and Harry attended the Ripple of Hope Gala at the Midtown Hilton to accept an award for fighting structural racism, and Meghan pulled off a show-stopping fashion moment. Draped in a pure white off-the-shoulder Louis Vuitton gown featuring a thigh-high slit, Prince Harry’s better half topped things off with an aquamarine diamond ring beloved by Princess Diana.

“The entire look was stunning—in my opinion, one of Meghan’s very best,” Miranda Holder, a stylist and royal fashion expert, told The Daily Beast. “The no-nonsense monochrome ensuring all focus was on the wearer, the off-the-shoulder style emphasizing Meghan’s feminine vulnerability, and the color white invoking peace and innocence are all qualities that Meghan will benefit from given the explosive Netflix release.”

In polar opposition to whistleblower Meghan, Kate is one of the palace’s most reliable assets: poised, lithe, and fully ingratiated into the fold, Prince William’s wife made her first trip to the United States in eight years (with Prince William) for a whirlwind Boston visit last week that included a turn at the black-tie awards Ceremony for the Earthshot Prize, given to five winners annually for their contributions to environmentalism, and a stop at Harvard to talk about how children can benefit from new advancements in science.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Catherine, Princess of Wales attends The Earthshot Prize 2022 at MGM Music Hall at Fenway on December 02, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Karwai Tang/WireImage</div>

Catherine, Princess of Wales attends The Earthshot Prize 2022 at MGM Music Hall at Fenway on December 02, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Karwai Tang/WireImage

In Boston, after appearing in a series of beautifully tailored cold weather outfits that included a $6,000 coat and eggplant purple suit, both by Alexander McQueen, for the Earthshot awards Kate went with a minty green Solace London dress. For this occasion, Kate chose a Princess Diana jewelry staple—the emerald and diamond choker Di once famously wore on her forehead during her 1985 Australia tour—as an accessory.

“The green rental gown for Earthshot was PR genius—it’s the ultimate sustainable fashion option, and the bright apple green dress looked contemporary and ensured the Princess could be seen from every corner of the packed venue,” Holder said.

Meghan and Kate have both been deliberately invoking Diana, the People’s Princess, with very different goals in mind. Kate seems to be reinforcing her own generational, unshakable ties to the royal family, while Meghan’s appearance in the aquamarine ring, which Diana wore as a “replacement” for her engagement ring after her divorce from then-Prince Charles, directly references Di’s determination to separate from The Firm entirely.

Kate in particular has been in rare form lately, Kinsey Schofield, a Los Angeles-based royal commentator and To Di For Daily podcaster, told The Daily Beast.

“Boston was a really good display of how William and Kate will handle this documentary,” Schofield said. “I was in Boston, and I honestly thought that they would hide from the public. Specifically, with Catherine at her Harvard event, we had to pull her out of the building—she wanted to stay and talk to everyone and take photos with everyone, she was so personable.” The first trailer for Netflix’s Harry & Meghan was dropped on December 1 as Kate and William strolled through Somerville, MA, and Kate stopped by Harvard clad in chic houndstooth the next day.

On Tuesday evening, having returned to Britain, Kate stunned at a Buckingham palace reception for members of the Diplomatic Corps in a scarlet Jenny Packham gown, the diamond Lotus Flower Tiara—originally worn by the Queen Mother—and diamond earrings.

“I don’t think Catherine was reacting to anything the Sussexes were doing with her wardrobe in Boston, because, pardon my French, the shitstorm happened after they landed,” Schofield said. “But when we saw her at the reception, in that beautiful beaded red gown and that tiara, do I feel like that was a reaction to the Sussexes? I do. That’s saying: ‘We are royalty. We are real royalty. This is duty, this is service, this is sacrifice.’ I mean, she’s wearing Queen Elizabeth’s earrings.”

“It’s a pretty tough PR battle,” Holder said. “Both women are in incredibly difficult situations and there must be so much anguish behind closed doors. However, both are soldiering on in the only way they know how, and immaculate fashion choices are a big factor in their game plan.”

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