The Duchess of Sussex and the late Princess of Wales share striking sartorial similarities.
As one of the most photographed women in the world, Princess Diana’s style has provided inspiration for decades. You don’t need to look far to see her impact on designers, celebrities, and even members of the royal family. The Duchess of Cambridge has chosen a number of looks evidently inspired by her late mother-in-law over the years, none more so than the blue polka-dot dress worn as she introduced Prince George to the world on the steps of the Lindo Wing in 2013. Slightly less clear-cut, although just as numerous, are the times Meghan Markle dressed like Princess Diana.
Princess Diana was considered a royal rebel in the style department, and Markle has many times followed in her footsteps by putting her own spin on royal style. From off-the-shoulder dresses to two-piece looks for evening events, both Markle and Diana chose to take a freer and more modern approach to their official wardrobe.
Markle's spirited approach to royal dressing is the only similarity to Princess Diana’s style. As her royal duties are starting to wind down, Markle chose a bright green dress from Emilia Wickstead, for Commonwealth Day, which mirrored that of Princess Diana’s green shirt dress and tulle-bowed hat for the 1982 Trooping of the Colour. For the Mountbatten Festival of Music at Royal Albert Hall, Markle opted for a bright scarlet-red caped gown by Safiyaa with red accessories to match, in the same hue as Princess Diana’s Jacques Azagury dress and matching accessories, worn to an American Red Cross fundraising dinner in June 1997.
Following the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's last outing as official Royals, it remains to be seen exactly what her post-royal wardrobe will look like. Until then, here are all the times that Meghan Markle channelled Princess Diana over the years.
The Monochrome Hat
Meghan wore a white dress by Givenchy and styled with black accessories and a black and white Philip Treacy hat for her debut appearance at Royal Ascot in 2018. A subtle nod to Princess Diana's monochrome look even down to the embroidery and Marina Killery hat, at the Gulf Forces Parade in 1991.
The Black Suit
Princess Diana and Markle both clearly understand the power of a simple black suit. Diana sported a Jasper Conran trouser suit and white ruffled blouse at a gala at the Expo 86 Theatre in 1986, and just over two decades later, Markle wore a bespoke Givenchy suit with a Lavender Hill T-shirt on an official visit to Ireland in 2018.
The Green Tulle-Bowed Hat
Matching not only the very particular shade of emerald green, Markle’s Emilia Wickstead ensemble from 2019’s Commonwealth Day service also mirrored Princess Diana’s tulle-bowed hat for the 1982 Trooping of the Colour.
The "Off-Duty" Jeans
Princess Diana's love of crisp white shirts is well documented and it's something Markle shares. Diana paired the fashion classic with blue jeans and brown leather shoes on a trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1997. Twenty years later, the Duchess wore a very similar outfit to watch a game of wheelchair basketball at the Invictus Games in 2017.
The Cobalt Coat
The Duchess of Sussex took another page out of the late Princess' style handbook for the launch of her cookbook with recipes from a group of women affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Markle picked a cobalt blue Smythe coat for the event, two decades after her late mother-in-law wore the same eye-catching shade to the Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988.
The Jackie O Skirt Suit
Princess Diana's love of the double-breasted look didn't stop at dresses. She wore this Versace skirt suit during an official visit to Argentina in November 1995, which may well have inspired the Duchess of Sussex's Prada ensemble at the Queen’s Youth Leader Awards in June 2018.
The Buttoned White Dress
The '80s double-breasted trend has stood the test of time. Diana was seen in this all-white option in 1997, and the Duchess of Sussex channeled the same look in a Grace Wales Bonner double-breasted dress when she and Prince Harry introduced baby Archie to the world in May, 2019.
The Prince of Wales Check
Both Markle and Princess Diana share an appreciation for the impact of a well-cut blazer. Keeping things in the family, both can be seen here wearing a Prince of Wales checked blazer.
The Vibrant Colour Combinations
A true advocate of '80s colour combinations, Princess Diana's purple hat with a red ribbon, red cropped jacket, and purple skirt during an official visit to Hong Kong in November 1989 has become one of her most iconic looks. Markle modernised the pairing in a bright red coat by Sentaler and a Babaton by Aritzia purple dress during her visit to Birkenhead with Prince Harry in January 2019.
While the styles differ, these vibrant yellow mini dresses are very similar in colour and length. The first, a Brandon Maxwell dress worn by the Duchess of Sussex to Your Commonwealth Youth Challenge in 2018, and the second, worn by Diana over 25 years earlier during an official visit to New Zealand in 1983.
The Buttoned Blue Dress
This sky-blue shirt dress by Veronica Beard is a favourite of Markle's — she's been spotted in it twice. The first was during a visit to Tupou College in Tonga and the second was during a a 10-day tour of South Africa with Prince Harry. Simpler in style, it looks like an updated version of Princess Diana's blue buttoned dress, seen on an official tour of Australia and New Zealand in the Spring of 1983.
The French Beret
We all love a beret, including these two stylish royals. Meghan’s white version was worn at the Commonwealth Day service in London in 2018, whilst Diana’s vibrant red number appeared aboard the P&O cruise liner "Royal Princess", which was named in honour of her in 1984.
The Blush Bardot Dress
Although Princess Diana’s Catherine Walker dress, which she wore to the Berlin Opera House in 1987, is very different from the waist down, there is no denying it bears a similar resemblance in the bardot, oragami-style neckline, and double-breasted button detail on the chest to the Duchess of Sussex's Carolina Herrera blush dress, worn at the Trooping of the Colour in 2018.
The Pleated Blue Number
As is true with everything in fashion, most trends come back around. This can certainly be said for pleated skirts and dresses, and Meghan is a fan much like Diana was. Princess Diana wore her gorgeous powder blue number in 1992, while Meghan sported hers with a modern spin in the 21st century.
Princess Diana’s Victor Edelstein gown and matching bolero were a warm but elegant choice for her first solo trip to the United States in 1989. Markle paid tribute with her own modern twist on brocade, which she paired with a sleek coat by British designer Amanda Wakeley which she wore to attend the 50th anniversary of the investiture of Prince Charles in 2019.
The Crystal Bracelet
Not only do the bracelets look similar; they are actually the same. According to People magazine, Meghan wore a chic crystal bracelet that was previously Diana’s during her and Harry’s interview with Oprah. According to the tabloid’s sources, this was a conscious choice made so that Diana could be with them.
The Powerful Pinstripe
Both Meghan and Diana understood the power of the pinstripe; Lady Di wore her sharp ‘80s-inspired suit for a trip to Sheffield, whilst Meghan chose this summery belted dress for her appearance at the Commonwealth Youth Forum reception. She finished off the look with a jacket slung over her shoulders for casual cool.
The Tartan Coat
On the subject of tartan, Meghan sported this Burberry coat on an official visit to Edinburgh in 2018. The People’s Princess had mastered tartan years prior, wearing this ensemble at the Highland Games in 1987.
The Red Dress
Every woman needs a powerful red dress in her wardrobe, and both Diana and Meghan had just the one. Diana wore hers for the premiere of Julie Walter's film Just Like a Woman in 1992, while Meghan’s was worn during an appearance on The Today Show.
The Black Caped Look
Meghan Markle’s sombre ensemble was fitting for the Queen’s State funeral, paying tribute to the late Queen in more ways than one, but the cape and hat combination was one championed by Princess Diana, too. Pictured here during an official visit to Chesterfield on November 12, 1981.
The Statement White Hat
Meghan Markle’s statement white hat for the Platinum Jubilee Thanksgiving Service – by Dior Haute Couture – feels like it could be a doffed cap to Diana. In 1989, the Princess of Wales paired a pastel yellow dress with similarly simple headwear at the Old Comrades' Parade in Hyde Park.
The Red Princess Dress
Red is a colour both Meghan and Diana have favoured over the years, but a princess silhouette like this is a rather rare sight. The Duchess of Sussex chose the romantic silhouette to attend the 2021 Salute To Freedom Gala at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on Nov.10, 2021 in New York, while Diana wore a not far removed version to attend the London premiere of the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only in 1981.
Florals In Spring
Florals… in Spring? The Devil Wears Prada might’ve taken the mick out of this reliable combo, but for these two royals, it’s a classic for good reason. Diana sported a pink look during a March visit to Sydney Opera House in 1983, while Meghan Markle wore a similar pattern during a 2018 tour of Fiji. The wrap dress, by Figue, came complete with colourful pom-poms. Sure, the visit was in October, but that’s Spring-time in the southern hemisphere.
Look, even royals have to put up with a bit of soggy drizzle – and the way to overcome it? Shamelessly embracing an anorak, apparently. Diana single-handedly made the Barbour jacket iconic during a visit to the Western Isles Of Scotland in 1985, and Meghan Markle also made a raincoat look surprisingly chic a couple of years back in Fiji.
Both Meghan and Diana have given subtle nods to military detailing by incorporating gold buttons to simple, one-tone outfits. Markle’s Celine jacket is admittedly a lot more understated than Diana’s bottle-green accented suit, which she wore on a visit to Prague in 1991.
Contributions by Orla Pentelow, Rebecca Fearn, and El Hunt.
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