When you’re a royal, dressing up is hard. After all, every outfit you wear in public will be photographed, analyzed and written about, so you have to get it right. This is something that Meghan Markle undoubtedly knows all too well – although getting to live in a palace may help her come to terms with it. Nevertheless, when the Duchess of Sussex wore a long-sleeved maxi dress to a wedding, it sent the royal-watchers of the internet into a frenzy.
Of course, fans have been eagerly following Meghan’s fashion choices for quite a while. Ever since she got engaged to Prince Harry and was photographed with him to celebrate, in fact, people have kept a sharp eye on her wardrobe. And in the run-up to Meghan’s wedding, bookmakers even took bets on what designer she might wear on the big day, such was the public interest.
That much-anticipated wedding dress turned out to be simple and stunning, naturally. Meghan chose a wide-necked number from Clare Waight Keller, the British artistic director of French label Givenchy. Unsurprisingly, the dress was very expensive. Yet the market very quickly became saturated with cheaper knock-offs for people wishing to emulate the royal bride.
After the wedding, the fashion frenzy nicknamed “the Meghan Markle effect” only became bigger. In May 2018, for instance, the Duchess made her first public appearance as a royal at a party celebrating Prince Charles’ 70th birthday. She wore a pink dress from the London label Goat Fashion, and interest in it was such that the company’s website crashed that same day.
So when Meghan attended another royal wedding just a few weeks after her own, royal fans knew that it would be an exciting occasion fashion-wise. The ceremony was for Celia McCorquodale’s marriage to George Woodhouse. As the bride is Prince Harry’s cousin and niece of his late mother, Princess Diana, the Duchess and her new groom were on the guest list. And, of course, the pair showed up holding hands.
Meghan wore a white and blue wrap dress with a floral pattern and light-colored accessories to match. The dress came from designer Oscar de la Renta, who’d previously created the dress that Doria Ragland, Meghan’s mother, had worn to Meghan’s wedding. So this particular dress was obviously beautiful, but the way that it fit the Duchess divided the internet.
In fact, some people were downright snarky about it. “How does Meghan Markle manage to look like a sack of potatoes?” one Twitter user said. Another joked that Meghan “looks like she re-enacted the Gone with the Wind scene where Scarlett makes a dress from old curtains. [But] Meghan only had a Marks & Spencer duvet to work with.”
In addition, others called upon British royal protocol to condemn the choice of dress. “This ‘off the peg’ Oscar de la Renta dress is not supposed to be form fitting. But with this stated, this dress is not appropriate for a high society British wedding. It is much too casual,” a disgruntled observer wrote on Twitter. “British high society has certain mores, including [a] wedding look.”
However, if you’re looking to Meghan for adherence to fashion protocol, you’re looking in the wrong place. The Duchess loves to break the rules, in fact. Indeed, for one of her engagement photos she wore – gasp! – a sheer dress. There was a nude lining in it to protect Meghan’s modesty, of course, but the conservative side of the royal fashion world was shocked.
Other people liked Meghan’s style, though. For example, Harper’s Bazaar magazine wrote in June 2018 that “while the gown looked slightly baggy on the Duchess, the floaty fabric, and her matching fascinator, created the perfect outfit for the summer nuptials.” And the website Fashionista stated that Meghan had looked “ethereal and angel-like.”
But aside from all the fashion discussion, there was one important question: was Meghan wearing such a loose dress because she was pregnant? Predictably, ever since Meghan married Prince Harry, people had wondered when the two of them would begin a family. So had the couple started out even before their wedding?
Mind you, at that point the media seemed to have a new “Meghan is pregnant” story almost every day. In June 2018, for instance, the National Enquirer announced that the couple would be having twins, that they’d been covertly attending a clinic that deals with fertility, and that the Queen was “horrified.” The Palace tends not to even bother denying such rumors.
Nonetheless, Meghan herself shut down those stories, possibly by accident, the month after she wore the maxi dress. On July 10, 2018, she attended a party at the Dublin residence of the British Ambassador to Ireland and drank champagne. And although one glass possibly wouldn’t hurt a baby, it’s nonetheless highly unlikely that the Duchess would drink while pregnant.
But everyone still suspected that a royal baby, the first child for Harry and Meghan, would be along at some point. During an interview celebrating the couple’s engagement in November 2017, for instance, Harry told the BBC that “eventually, one step at a time, [we’ll] start a family in the near future.”
And the millions of people who watched the royal wedding noticed that a look passed between Harry and Meghan at a particular moment. Certainly, when the reverend spoke about how marriage “is given as the foundation of family life in which children are born and nurtured,” Harry grinned happily at Meghan, and she grinned right back.
Then there was also the matter of Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, and what he had to say about the subject. Thomas, who’s been a lightning rod for controversy, told breakfast TV show Good Morning Britain in June 2018 that Meghan had “wanted children for a long time.” He added, “When she met Harry and she spoke about how much she loves him… There’s got to be a child in the making there soon.”
As the media both in Britain and worldwide eagerly waited for news of a pregnancy, The Sun published some rules that Meghan would have to follow if she did fall pregnant. These included not revealing the gender of the baby until it was born, informing the Queen first about the birth, and not leaving the country unless absolutely necessary.
Rules such are those are simply upholding years of tradition. Royals just don’t believe in announcing a new baby’s gender to the public ahead of time – after all, the royal family has been around for longer than sonograms. Allegedly, Prince William and Kate Middleton opted not to know the gender of any of their children in advance.
And the Queen has to be told first because as the monarch, she outranks everybody. When Prince George was born, apparently Prince William called her up on an encrypted phone to let her know, even though the whole world would learn the news shortly afterwards. Kate’s parents were informed only after that duty had been fulfilled.
By August 2018 royal baby rumors had reached a fever pitch. The Sun apparently spoke to an expert about something that could point to Meghan being pregnant. “The one thing that might be interesting is her hair,” etiquette expert Myka Meier told the publication’s Fabulous section. “We don’t know what she does to treat her hair now, but it is likely she uses a keratin or a Brazilian treatment to straighten it.”
In fact, in 2011 Meghan actually revealed that she does use the Brazilian treatment. “My mom is black and my dad is Dutch and Irish, so the texture of my hair is densely curly,” she explained. “I’ve been getting Brazilian blowouts for a couple of years.” But how could this be a giveaway when it comes to the possibility of a pregnancy?
Well, these treatments often involve formaldehyde, which is a big no-no if you happen to be carrying a child. “I think we’ll see [Meghan] wearing more of a bun when that happens, which could be a tell-tale sign she is pregnant as she’ll no longer be able to use those chemicals that are often used for that glossy look,” Meier said.
And a month after that, on October 15, 2018, the long-awaited announcement finally came: Meghan was pregnant. Kensington Palace posted the news on social media, saying “Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019.”
The statement continued, “Their Royal Highnesses have appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public.” Many politicians and public figures subsequently sent their congratulations via social media.
Moreover, Meghan’s maternity style quickly became the talk of the town. She unveiled some of her most iconic looks during that period of her life, in fact. Blue dresses seemed to be a particular favorite. These included a navy Antonio Berardi gown, a gorgeous custom Givenchy dress, and a brightly colored creation called the Veronica Beard Cary Dress.
And there was more blue on show when the royal baby came into the world on May 6, 2019. It was a boy, and his parents bestowed upon him the name Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. Landmarks in both Britain and America were lit up to celebrate: the London Eye was bathed in red, white and blue, while Niagara Falls simply turned blue.
A few days after the birth, Meghan and Harry took their baby out into the world for a photoshoot. Meghan chose her dress for the occasion carefully, of course. She wore an outfit by Grace Wales Bonner, and Oprah magazine noted that, “For her first official photo as a new mom, Markle chose a designer who – just like her and now, the royal baby – is also bi-racial.”
Indeed, Meghan very much seems to believe in using fashion to send messages to the world. For example, it’s thought that the outfit she wore while beginning a tour of Africa was a tribute to both her host continent and the concept of sustainable fashion. It was a May Miko “Dalisto” dress created in Malawi with locally sourced materials.
And some people think Meghan might be sending a different, more personal message with another dress she wore in Africa. On the first day of the tour, Meghan changed into an outfit people had seen before: her blue Veronica Beard dress, which she’d of course worn while pregnant with Archie.
It didn’t take long for speculation to start rising. Royal fans were convinced Meghan was hinting at a second pregnancy, in fact. “I’m gonna call it now, Meghan Markle is pregnant again and due around May next year again,” an observer wrote on Twitter. And they were far from the only one playing the guessing game on social media.
The dress itself was considered a good choice for Meghan to have taken on tour. On the website What Meghan Wore, which tracks the Duchess’ fashion picks, a commenter wrote that they “loved the Veronica Beard dress when she first wore it, and I like it again now. I think it is casually elegant, and the blue with Meghan’s coloring is just gorgeous!”
Speculation that Meghan was pregnant for the second time spiked again the following day, when Meghan once again sported a dress she’d previously used as maternity wear. This time, the outfit was an attractive brown and olive striped maxi dress, a design by Australian couturier Martin Grant.
The last time the public had seen Meghan in the maxi dress, she’d just revealed her pregnancy to the public and was embarking on a tour of Australia. She’d then been observed holding her new baby bump while walking about in the dress. There was no baby bump in the new pictures, though – but was there a chance she’d just discovered a new pregnancy?
Tamara Abraham, fashion editor for The Daily Telegraph, wrote in the newspaper that she didn’t believe that was the case and that Meghan was simply recycling. “The Duchess is re-wearing clothes that she last wore while expecting son Archie and in doing so, she’s showing us that shopping for ‘maternity wear’ isn’t what was,” Abraham stated.
“It’s no longer a question of buying specially made or XXL garments that serve no purpose once the baby is born,” Abraham continued. “Instead, Meghan is proving it’s possible to find looks that both accommodate a growing bump and later be a working mum’s wardrobe heroes.”
And yet, even putting the dresses aside for the moment, people still seem convinced that Meghan will have another baby sooner rather than later. Indeed, in September 2019 bookmaker Alex Apati from Ladbrokes told the Daily Mail that “8/11 says Meghan gives birth to a second baby in as many years, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex making it no secret they’re keen to add to their family.”
Apati added, “Meghan was 2/1 to have another baby by end of 2020 last month, but a flurry of bets around the country has forced us to cut odds to 8/11 now, with punters convinced an announcement for a second baby will come sooner.” And Meghan’s fashion choices are definitely contributing to that belief.
While it perhaps wouldn’t be out of character for Meghan and Harry to grow their family in the near future, royal fans have to rely on outside sources to hear anything about the couple’s plans. For example, in July 2019 journalist and champion royal-scoop-getter Katie Nicholl talked to Entertainment Tonight about the future of the Sussexes.
Nicholl said that the Duke and Duchess “absolutely want siblings for Archie, so possibly we will have a pregnancy announcement – a second pregnancy announcement for Meghan and Harry – sometime next year. But, for the moment, the focus is obviously on Archie.” After all, the new baby is still less than a year old.
“I think at the moment, they’re focusing on Archie,” Nicholl continued. “But I know it’s their plan to have more than one child.” So when Archie is a little older, start looking closely at his mother’s dresses – you never know what the Duchess might be cleverly indicating through her fashion choices.