Meghan Markle didn’t break royal fashion protocols, expert suggests

Female members of the British Royal Family often make headlines for breaking so-called fashion rules, but according to royal fashion expert and journalist Elizabeth Holmes, many of these protocols are about paying respect to Queen Elizabeth II, how she dressed and the tone she set with her fashion decisions. 

In her book, HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style, Elizabeth said there are many royal fashion “rules” that are in fact myths. 

She said: “There’s this expectation on how they look with this need to be stylish but sensible, fancy but frugal. It’s a very fine line that they are walking.” 

Whilst there are a few written style rules for members of the Royal Family, most of them are just part of “broader cultural insistence on sophisticated modesty, an expectation that they are composed and presentable at all times”. 

READ MORE: Meghan Markle’s hidden wedding dress and veil details no one saw

Nude tights 

When Meghan Markle made her first public appearance following her wedding to Prince Harry, she wore a pair of nude tights with a very pale pink dress by Goat. 

At the time, comments were made about the shade of her tights, and how they weren’t true to her skin tone.

Kate, Princess of Wales, on the other hand, sometimes swaps nude tights for sheer or opaque black tights instead. 

Wearing tights is an informal style tradition the Queen always followed. Royal expert Victoria Arbiter said the tights rule is “the only hard, steadfast rule in terms of what the Queen requires”. But according to Elizabeth, there is no written rule about having to wear tights – instead, they’re worn as a sign of respect for the Queen. 

She explained: “Meghan did not wear a lot of nude stockings, but then when she and the Queen appeared together, she did. Kate leans into this stuff much more than Meghan did.” 

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Bare legs above the knee 

When arriving on Fraser Island in Queensland for her 2018 royal tour of Australia with Prince Harry, Meghan wore a stripey, casual Reformation dress that included a thigh-high slide on the left side. 

Some social media users criticised Meghan’s dress choice on the Kensington Palace Instagram page, calling her outfit “inappropriate”. 

Elizabeth wrote that Meghan’s dress “made headlines with false claims it violated royal protocol,” when in fact, there is no formal rule that prohibits thigh-high slits. Instead, the Queen reportedly preferred skirts and dresses to be cut on the knee or just below the knee if any leg is to be shown. 

Meghan isn’t the only royal to have worn a dress with a thigh slit, in 2016, Kate attended the premiere of A Street Cat Named Bob in a white Self-Portrait dress that had a thigh-high slit. 

In 2012, Kate wore another dress with a thigh-high slit when she attended an event at the Thirty Club in a Roland Mouret gown. Princess Beatrice has also been seen wearing dresses with thigh-high slits. 

READ MORE: King Charles shows ‘disloyalty’ to Camilla with ‘very public scene’

Trouser suits 

Meghan’s first evening engagement alongside Prince Harry was in February 2018, and she wore a black suit by Alexander McQueen. 

Elizabeth said: “The black trouser suit got a lot of attention, and it’s because it is something we haven’t seen from the Royal Family. It [sent] a very strong message that Meghan understood that this was a job and she was showing up to work.”

Throughout her time as a senior working royal, Meghan would regularly wear smart trousers, shirts or blouses and jackets. 

In July 2018, when she visited Ireland, she wore a Givenchy suit, and then in September of that same year, she opted for a black Altuzarra suit for the WellChild awards. 

Princess Diana was a huge fan of suits, especially menswear styles, and in recent years, Kate has been stepping out in suits a lot more. 

Neutral nail polish 

Apparently, the Queen preferred royal women to go bare or wear subtle neutral nail polish. Since 1989, it is said the late monarch always wore Essie’s ‘Ballet Slippers’, which Meghan also wore on her wedding day in May. 

Whilst many members of the Royal Family choose neutral, clear or no nail polish, there is no written rule about what is allowed and what isn’t according to the expert. 

“There is a tendency on behalf of the Queen and Kate to wear very neutral or clear polish shades,” she told Insider.

Kate has worn dark nail police several times on her toes, and when Princess Diana wore her famous “revenge dress” in 1994, she had bright red nail polish. 

Meghan also veered from tradition when she stepped out at the 2018 Fashion Awards with dark nail polish on her fingers. 

More recently, Sophie, Countess of Wessex chose metallic nail polish for the 2022 Royal Variety Performance. 

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