Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shocked the world in early 2020 when they revealed they’d be taking a back seat as royal family members. In fact, for several weeks the decision the press termed “Megxit” was all that anyone could talk about. And as they prepared to wave goodbye to the monarchy, Meghan made sure that no one could forget her in a hurry.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attended several engagements together during their final week as senior royals. They first graced the Endeavour Fund Awards to honor service men and women injured in the line of duty. Two days later they headed to the Royal Albert Hall in London for a concert staged to raise money for two different charities.
Harry and Meghan carried out their final duties as a royal couple when they attended the annual Commonwealth Day service. The pair were joined at Westminster Abbey by several other members of their famous family. These included Harry’s brother Prince William, sister-in-law Kate, father Prince Charles and grandmother the Queen.
This was also the first time that the Queen and the Duchess of Sussex had rubbed shoulders since the announcement of Megxit. But as ever, the press seemed just as interested in Meghan’s fashion sense as they did any family politics. And the star ensured they had plenty to write about.
Following the service, Harry and Meghan headed back to Canada where they’d been based for several months. The pair were initially expected to start their new life as financially independent individuals in the North American country. However, just a few weeks later it was confirmed that they had changed their plans.
Indeed, in late March 2020 the couple relocated from Toronto to Los Angeles in what appeared to be a last-minute move. The royals flew with their first-born Archie shortly before recent global events shut down all inessential travel between America and Canada. And inevitably rumors began to circulate about what had caused Harry and Meghan to take off.
British newspaper The Sun reported that tax was the main reason for the Duke and Duchess’ getaway. The paper claimed that the pair had discovered that due to problems with the status of Meghan’s passport, she’d be forced to pay a much higher level of tax. In fact, as a U.S. citizen, the royal’s worldwide income would end up being taxed in two countries.
It was reported that Meghan would also need to pay a levy of 15.3 percent in order to cover the taxes on medicare and social security. She’d have to disclose information about any international foreign bank accounts to the United States’ Internal Revenue Service, too. In the end, the couple appeared to agree that it was much easier and far less expensive to simply up sticks once more.
So where exactly did Harry and Meghan decide to set up their new base? Well, according to reports, they chose to reside in a $20 million mansion in Malibu. Charlie Lankston, a royal expert, told the Daily Express newspaper that the couple had settled on the sun-soaked city as they wanted easy access to Hollywood, without living in the heart of it.
And the always fascinating pair didn’t waste any time in proving they could find work outside the royal family. Harry gave talks about mental health issues for a number of financial institutions on Wall Street. Meghan, meanwhile, provided the voiceover for a Disney movie about elephant conservation efforts in Botswana.
But this isn’t likely to be Meghan’s last involvement with a movie. The one-time star of legal drama Suits is reportedly looking to get back into the acting profession she left when she first became a royal. And according to reports, the Duchess has some high hopes for her return to the screen.
Acclaimed filmmaker Ava DuVernayis allegedly at the top of Meghan’s list when it comes to the directors with whom she wants to work. The royal believes that critics will be sharpening their knives whenever she appears in front of the cameras again. And by aligning herself with such esteemed talent, it’s possible that she may reduce the chances of a critical mauling.
But as wider public health concerns continued to impact the state of California, Harry and Meghan soon switched their attention. The pair were pictured helping out with deliveries for the Project Angel Food organization in California twice in one week. They both wore protective masks while handing out food to those unable to cook or head out to the shops.
The pair were widely praised for doing their bit in such a time of need. But Harry and Meghan seem unable to keep away from controversy for too long. And just a few days later they issued a statement which left certain sections of the press more hostile towards the couple than ever before.
Indeed, in a strongly-worded letter, the royals revealed they wouldn’t be cooperating with Britain’s four biggest tabloid newspapers any more. This included The Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Express and the Daily Mail. The couple stated they’d no longer “offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion.”
The Duke and Duchess also accused the press of printing reports that were “distorted, false or invasive beyond reason.” A representative added, “There is a real human cost to this way of doing business and it affects every corner of society. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have watched people they know – as well as complete strangers – have their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason, other than the fact that salacious gossip boosts advertising revenue.
This certainly wasn’t the first time that the two royals had taken umbrage at reporting in the Daily Mail in particular. That same week a hearing about a lawsuit Meghan had filed against the newspaper’s Sunday edition was conducted virtually. The Duchess decided to take the tabloid to court after it printed personal correspondence she’d sent to the father from whom she’s been estranged for years.
Of course, this won’t stop the British tabloids from commenting on the two royals’ every move. And Meghan, in particular, will no doubt remain a staple of the fashion columns. Her sense of style has been pored over ever since she first got together with Harry. But it became even more scrutinized following their wedding.
In 2018 a piece in Town and Country magazine reflected on how Meghan had only ever sported items that were white, blush or off-white since getting married. Like many royal observers, the writer of the article wondered whether this was a sign that the Duchess was conforming to the royal family’s more conservative traditions. Others believed she simply avoided brighter colors as she didn’t want to take attention away from the more senior royals.
But over the next year fashion critics noted how Meghan had also started to dress more like her Suits character. In the legal drama, Rachel Zane is renowned for wearing button-down shirts, tailored jackets and pencil skirts that are mid-length. And much of Meghan’s post-wedding wardrobe appeared to incorporate many of these features.
However, it was very much a different story when Meghan returned to the U.K. with Harry to fulfill her final royal duties. Gone were the pastel shades and demure outfits that had made the Duchess look like every other member of her new family. And in came some colorful, bold stylistic choices that looked like they’d been plucked from the pages of Vogue magazine.
Meghan first caught attention with a photo which looked like she and Harry were in the next Richard Curtis rom-com. Wearing a Victoria Beckham-designed teal dress, the beaming Duchess looked positively radiant as she walked under an umbrella with her equally smiley husband. The image was made all the more dramatic by the rainy showers that provided its tableau.
And this glamorous picture sent the internet into meltdown. Journalist Elizabeth Holmes, who often remarks about the royal family’s fashion statements on her #SoManyThoughts Instagram series, was one of the most impressed. She wrote, “What a way to undo the last two months of negative press, and any criticism about what they are doing to just return so triumphantly.”
The man who actually took the image, Samir Hussein, was just as bowled over. The photographer told Town and Country, “It’s a one-in-a-million [chance] when all the elements you could wish for as a photographer come together. Perfect timing, great lighting, strong symbolism and amazing subjects make this a magical photo I am extremely proud of.”
But this was just one of three sartorial statements that had even the British tabloids fawning over Meghan. The Duchess, and indeed Harry, too, also made quite the impression when they attended the Mountbatten Music Festival. In a visible display of solidarity, the happy couple appeared to color-coordinate their outfits.
For the last time he’d ever appear in public as the Royal Marines’ Captain General, Harry sported his official red uniform. The Duke had been forced to vacate the position following his joint decision to leave the royal family. And Meghan decided to pay her own special tribute by wearing a cape dress made by Safiyaa which boasted a very similar red hue.
Holmes was once again left in awe of the Duchess of Sussex’s sense of style. She wrote, “Meghan appearing next to Harry in his uniform on the last day that he is wearing his uniform publicly – that was really powerful. And I think it showed real unity between them.”
And Holmes was far from the only one who was dazzled by the ex-Suits star’s red Safiyaa dress. Christine Ross, the editor of blog Meghan’s Mirror, told Town and Country that her website couldn’t cope with the volume of traffic for which the outfit was responsible; it ended up crashing. And Ross can understand why so many people were drawn to the image.
Ross added, “The look was so similar to her other Safiyaa gown, the long blue one she wore in Fiji, which was also hugely popular. It was smart that she returned to a look she knew the public would love and paired it with Harry’s military uniform.” The editor went on to describe the gesture as “incredibly respectful.”
Meghan once again excited the press when she turned up at the Commonwealth Day Service with Harry for their final royal duty. This time around she sported a bright green outfit which some saw as a nod to her grandmother-in-law. Indeed, The Queen has become renowned for wearing similarly vibrant outfits. According to royal biographer Robert Hardman, the monarch once said, “I can never wear beige because nobody will know who I am.”
Eagle-eyed commentators also noticed that Harry and Meghan had once again attempted to coordinate their outfits. But on this occasion the display was a little less obvious. Indeed, thanks to a gust of wind, the blogger known as Gerts Royals spotted that the Duke’s coat lining was very similar to his wife’s green dress.
Holmes also commented on the look in a chat with Town and Country. She said, “It’s almost like they knew that there would be a little gust of wind when they walked. That kind of unity, matching in a photograph gives you a sense that the couple is together and they’re strong, people who are on the same wavelength. It felt very intentional. That kind of stuff does not happen by accident.”
Meghan’s Mirror editor Ross was also impressed by how the outfit bookended the Duchess’ royal life. She added, “It’s so brightly colored, and such a beautiful green. She entered this royal role in that green P.A.R.O.S.H. dress for the engagement interview, and now she’s leaving the role in a beautiful green Emilia Wickstead.”
Some believe that Meghan’s first two choices of outfits, in particular, had a deeper meaning. The royal family are renowned for dressing in a style that could be described as diplomatic. And by wearing striking outfits both red and blue, the Duchess could well have been paying her respect to the national flags of her and Harry’s homelands as well as their temporarily adopted Canadian one.
However, there’s also a theory that Meghan was paying tribute not to The Queen but perhaps another very famous former member of the royal family. Indeed, the Duchess’ final three fashion statements as a royal all had something in common with outfits once worn by the late Princess Diana. The iconic figure, of course, was the mother of Meghan’s husband Harry.
The teal number that Meghan wore while shielding from the rain looked similar to a mini dress Diana wore in June 1997. Just two months before her untimely passing, the princess sported a light blue outfit while watching the English National Ballet at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The famous company was staging a performance of Swan Lake at the time.
That same month Princess Diana also showed up at a fundraising event for the American Red Cross. And she made quite the impression with a striking red dress designed by Jacques Azagury. Some royal observers claim that the outfit Meghan sported alongside her husband in military uniform was a nod to this classic look.
However, if Meghan really was paying homage to the mother-in-law she never got to meet, she went much further back for her final royal fashion statement. Indeed, the vibrant green dress she wore at the Commonwealth Day service might just have been inspired by one worn by Princess Diana in 1982, several years before Harry was even born. The late royal had showed off the outfit at the annual Trooping the Colour.
But according to Jules Standish, a color consultant, Meghan was simply expressing her personality through her final royal wardrobe display. Standish told The Sun, “Meghan went bright and bold in red – a color that demands attention, showing that she feels confident and strong. When she chose turquoise, a color which is fun-loving and uplifting, she was showing that she’s cool and in control.”
However, body language expert Alison Reader told the Daily Express that Meghan’s sartorial choices represented something much bolder. She said, “Meghan stands out in her emerald green dress and cape. She is her own superhero as she has initiated the flight of freedom with Harry to Canada. There is an energy of defiance and grace about her, she is one clever lady.”