How Kate and Meghan pay homage to Princess Diana through their wardrobes

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Written by Megan C. Hills, CNN

Don’t miss CNN’s six-part documentary series “Diana” with rarely seen footage and new interviews that reveal the person behind the princess.
Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex have each charted their own path as members of the royal family, gaining the attention of the fashion press and sparking the sale of the clothes they are pictured wearing.
While their wardrobes are vastly different – with Kate adopting classic British chic and Meghan adopting sleek, modern elegance – both have paid homage to perhaps the most influential royal fashion icon of all: The Princess Diana.

Since going public, the Duchesses have woven elements of their late mother-in-law’s iconic outfits into their own closets. Diana’s penchant for Peter Pan collars and bow tie blouses, for example, became Kate’s signature, while Meghan channeled Diana’s love for bodycon dresses and trim cuts.

A look back at Princess Diana’s life in fashion

Other examples of clothing borrowing have been more literal: Prince William and Prince Harry inherited items from their mother’s extensive jewelry collection after her death in 1997, and some of her pieces have found their way into the sets of their wives – often with a nifty storytelling effect. Who could forget Meghan sporting a Cartier diamond tennis bracelet that belonged to Diana during her explosive interview with Oprah, or Kate posing for engagement photos with Diana’s famous 12-karat sapphire and diamond ring on her finger?

Read on to find out more about how the couple paid tribute to Princess Diana through their thoughtful style choices.

Blue polka dot dress

Kate Middleton wears an Alessandra Rich gown at an event at Bletchley Park in 2019, inviting comparisons to the one worn by Princess Diana over 30 years earlier.

Polka dots and exaggerated collars were a staple of Princess Diana’s wardrobe, and Kate has adopted both over the years. Most notably, the Duchess of Cambridge has stepped out on several occasions in a navy blue polka dot dress with a white collar and cuffs from London designer Alessandra Rich. The dress looks like a contemporary take on the one worn by Princess Diana during a photoshoot at Kensington Palace in 1985.

Kate wore the dress for an official family portrait taken to celebrate Prince Charles’ 70th birthday in 2018, and again a year later for an event at Bletchley Park.

The Alessandra Rich dress has proven popular with other top personalities: In 2018, Meghan’s close friend and former “Suits” co-star Abigail Spencer wore the same dress for Meghan and Harry’s wedding, while Ivanka Trump wore it with a big white belt to accompany her father on a trip to an Illinois steel plant.

Maternity clothing statement

Meghan and Princess Diana were pictured wearing similar embroidered green coats while they were pregnant.

Meghan and Princess Diana were pictured wearing similar embroidered green coats while they were pregnant.

While pregnant with Prince Harry, Princess Diana’s style changed to suit her bump with flowing dresses and striking coats. On a visit to Bristol in 1982, she stepped out in an elegant green coat with velvet details and a matching hat.

Although Meghan stepped away from voluminous dresses while pregnant with her first child, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, bold coats have become a recurring feature of her maternity style. In 2019, while visiting a Commonwealth Day event at Canada House in London, she wore a forest green Erdem coat. Although its cut is more modern, the garment has always channeled the spirit of Diana’s glamorous coat.

Red Lindo Wing sets

Kate and Diana stand on the steps of St Mary's Hospital decades apart.  Kate's red Jenny Packham dress with a Peter Pan collar appeared to be a tribute to her late mother-in-law.

Kate and Diana stand on the steps of St Mary’s Hospital decades apart. Kate’s red Jenny Packham dress with a Peter Pan collar appeared to be a tribute to her late mother-in-law.

Kate took inspiration from Princess Diana’s postpartum playbook after the birth of her third child, Prince Louis, in 2018. She wore a red Jenny Packham dress with a lace Peter Pan collar to pose for photographers with her husband and newborn baby outside the Lindo Wing. at St. Mary’s Hospital in London. The dress was reminiscent of the striking red coat dress, offset by a white collar, that Diana wore when she was released from the same hospital in 1984, after giving birth to Prince Harry, with then-husband Prince Charles by her side. .

Diana was among the first royals to give birth in hospital, rather than at home, and welcomed her two sons to St. Mary’s. Kate followed in her footsteps, giving birth to all of her children at the same facility and posing on the exact same stairs for photographers.

Kate also paid a more subtle tribute to her mother-in-law when she gave birth to her eldest son, Prince George, in 2013, wearing another Jenny Packham dress. She opted for a polka dot print, just like Diana did when she announced the birth of Prince William on the steps of the Lindo Wing in 1982.

Dark mourning outfits

Meghan and Diana both wore black buckled coats, wide-brimmed hats and red poppy brooches at commemorative events.

Meghan and Diana both wore black buckled coats, wide-brimmed hats and red poppy brooches at commemorative events.

When attending dark services as part of their royal duties, Meghan and Princess Diana both followed the tradition, opting for all-black looks that reflected the solemnity of the occasion.

In 1990, on Remembrance Day, Princess Diana paid homage to the Yokohama War Cemetery in Japan, wearing a fitted black coat with a gold buckle, as well as a wide-brimmed hat and blouse. silk bow tie in the same shade.

Meghan adopted an equally subdued tone in 2019, when she attended the annual Remembrance Sunday services at the Westminster Cenotaph War Memorial – an event that honors soldiers killed in wartime – wearing a black buckled coat silver by Stella McCartney and an ornate hat bow by milliner Stephen Jones.

Both pinned a red poppy-shaped brooch on their lapels to commemorate the lives lost.

Beads and tiaras

Kate Middleton and Princess Diana both wear the Lover's Knot tiara, matching Collingwood pearl earrings and a Royal Family Order brooch.

Kate Middleton and Princess Diana both wear the Lover’s Knot tiara, matching Collingwood pearl earrings and a Royal Family Order brooch.

Tiaras are usually reserved for state occasions, but when an event calls for it, Kate often gravitates to the Lover’s Knot Tiara, one of Princess Diana’s favorite pieces. In the photo above, worn by Kate at a state banquet in honor of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands in 2018, the tiara is said to be so heavy that it sometimes gave off headache to Diana.

The style of Kate’s outfit that day reflected elements of a look Diana wore in Vancouver in 1986. Kate appears to have opted for the same earrings as Diana, identified by Town & Country magazine as the earrings. Collingwood Pearl earrings. But more importantly, she affixed a badge with a yellow ribbon, a miniature crown and a portrait of the Queen surrounded by diamonds on her dress.

Known as the Order of the Royal Family of Queen Elizabeth II, this rare badge is awarded to women of the Royal Family at the Queen’s discretion. Former British monarchs have their own family orders, and Queen Elizabeth received them from her father, King George VI, and her grandfather, King George V.

Bold one-shoulder dresses

Princess Diana's stylist Anna Harvey once said Princess Diana loves one-shoulder dresses and Meghan Markle followed in her footsteps in a bodycon Givenchy dress.

Princess Diana’s stylist Anna Harvey once said Princess Diana loves one-shoulder dresses and Meghan Markle followed in her footsteps in a bodycon Givenchy dress.

The Duchess of Sussex caused a sensation at the Fashion Awards 2018 when she made a surprise appearance to award then-Givenchy artistic director Clare Waight Keller, the designer of her wedding dress, the British designer award of women’s clothing of the year. Fittingly, Meghan wore one of Keller’s models for the occasion: a black one-shoulder Givenchy dress that highlighted her round belly.
The elegant dress appeared to be a tribute to Diana’s love for one-shoulder dresses, like the bodycon blue Versace dress she wore during a 1996 visit to Sydney, Australia. But the late royal’s love for one-sleeve looks goes back further than that. Writing for British Vogue in 1997, after Diana’s death, the magazine’s former deputy editor-in-chief Anna Harvey explained that the princess fell in love with the figure early on.

She recalls dressing Diana in a white beaded sleeve dress, by Japanese designer Hachi, which was heavily photographed by the press in the 1980s. “She looked stunning but the establishment hated it. It was too revealing, they didn’t think it was royal, ”Harvey wrote.

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