WHEN Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced they were stepping down as senior members of the Royal Family in January, the news sent shockwaves through the institution.
But according to one celebrity stylist, the clues that Meghan was struggling with her role in the Royal Family were there to see in her royal tour wardrobe.
Earlier today, it was revealed that Harry and Meghan's Africa tour was the most expensive royal engagement of 2019 and cost the taxpayer £250k.
Here Fabulous Digital looks back at Meghan's most expensive royal tour outfits and the "secret messages" she was sending with her flawless fashion choices.
Oscar de la Renta gown: £12,623
On her royal tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga in October 2018, Meghan's outfits were estimated to be worth a cool £50,000.
And one of the standout pieces of the 16-day tour was this breathtaking£12,000 Oscar de la Renta gown which she wore to the prestigious Australian Geographic Society Awards with Prince Harry.
The Duchess' show-stopping dress featured intricate laser-cut black birds which highlighted the evening's environmental cause – but celebrity stylist Lucas Armitage says it also showed how she wanted "break free" from royal constraints.
He told Fabulous Digital: "The dress was absolutely stunning but could have revealed a few clues Meghan wasn’t happy with her place as a senior royal.
"The illusion neck line give a strapless appearance which would traditionally be against royal protocol and, coupled with bare legs, gives this outfit an edge of rebellion.
"Overall, the playful nature and fun bird print feels quite un-royal.
"Usually for royal trips the dress code would have a more serious (and less playful) tone."
Burberry trench, Brandon Maxwell dress and Manolo Blahnik heels: £5,209
We've all got our style staples – and for her Australia and New Zealand trips, Meghan packed not one but TWO trench coats.
The Duchess paired this £2,400 Burberry coat with a £2,070 cream Brandon Maxwell dress before finishing off the look with a pair of Carrie Bradshaw-approved £737 nude heels from Manolo Blahnik.
But while the Duchess has nailed the art of tonal dressing, Lucas says this outfit – which she wore to greet crowds of royal fans – appeared "thrown together" and could indicate that she was struggling with the royal rules.
Lucas explained: "Again we see the lack of a tights which at the time would have been encouraged by royal aids especially as this was worn on a royal tour.
"I also feel the line of the trench finishing so far below the the midi dress is quite an odd choice for a senior royal.
"We would usually see hemlines of coats match the hemline of a dress to give a well put together look.
"The mismatch gems give a feeling of a thrown together loom which is the opposite of what we expect when we look at Royal wardrobes."
Bespoke Gabriella Hearst dress and Dior bag: £3,265
For her meeting New Zealand's PM Jacinda Arden, Meghan stunned in this bespoke Gabriella Heart gown – which is estimated to have cost £1,800 – and paired it with a £1465 Dior clutch bag.
"To mark 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand Meghan opted for a edgy black gown by Gabriella Hearst," Lucas explained. "The dress was a modified version of a spaghetti strap style from the designer's 2018 SS runway."
Although Lucas acknowledged the colour and cut of the dress complied with royal rules, he added: "The colour is not very typical of royal dressing.
"Black is not often a colour we see senior royals wear so the selection of this structured gown may have been a small signal Meghan wasn’t totally at home being Royal."
Roksanda dress and Stuart Weitzman heels: £2,900
When visiting Macarthur Girls High School in Sydney, the Duchess paired this stunning £1,400 dress by British brand Roksanda with Stuart Weitzman's £1,500 Legend suede nude heels.
Analysing the Duchess' dress, Lucas said it was another move away from typical royal dressing.
He explained: "It has a relaxed edge in a structured scuba fabric. Scuba fabric is a synthetic fabric designed for active wear which has recently been utilised as a fashion fabric due to the way it holds its weight and gives structure.
"It’s not usually a fabric we would associate with being royal as we the royals usually look to natural fabrics like silk and wool."
That said, Meghan could have chosen this heavier fabric to avoid showing her legs – as Kate often has her hems weighed down to stop them billowing up in the wind.
Cream Karen Gee dress with Martin Grant trench coat: £2,200
While greeting crowds outside the Sydney Opera House, the Duchess wore another trusty trench.
But while her Burberry coat reportedly cost £2,400, this £1,200 Martin Grant trench – which she paired with a £1,000 cream Karen Gee dress – is one she re-wore multiple times during the tour.
However, Lucas claims this is "highly unusual" for royal tours.
He said: "We would usually see totally new top to toe looks on a royal tour, repeating the trench could be a signal she is happy to rehash similar looks and isn't taking it seriously.
"We would never see The Queen wear such a similar look in such quick succession."
In comparison, Meghan's Africa tour wardrobe was estimated to have cost £9,000 in total as the Duchess as she wanted to take a "mindful" capsule wardrobe of clothes instead of designer frocks.
In more Royal Family news, Prince Harry ‘reevaluated royal life’ after being left out of photos on Queen’s desk during Xmas speech, an expert has claimed.
And Kate Middleton’s famous see-through dress was actually a SKIRT she ‘yanked up’ to show off her figure.
Plus Charlotte and George’s school Covid-19 restrictions have been revealed & ‘Kate and William are only parents allowed inside gates’.
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