Markle Markle was accused of “breaking royal protocol” by showing off her shoulders at a royal event on Saturday — but there’s nothing unusual about the duchess’s look.
Fresh off a two-week honeymoon to an unknown location with husband Prince Harry, the Duchess of Sussex joined the royal family for the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony wearing a light pink Carolina Herrera dress with a matching Philip Treacy hat. The 36-year-old looked positively classy. However, online critics slammed the new bride for baring her shoulders, calling her dress “inappropriate,” “sexy,” and “revealing.”
“She looked like she was going to a cocktail party rather than the formality of the Queen’s birthday parade,” sniffed a former palace aide to the Daily Mail.
However, Markle’s show of skin was totally acceptable — and history proves it.
While Trooping the Colour is a formal daytime event honoring the Queen’s birthday, showing skin isn’t unheard of. For the 1987 ceremony, Diana, Princess of Wales, wore a white jacket with a plunging neckline, and in 2011, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, wore a pink top that revealed a wide expanse of décolletage.
On other occasions, Diana favored dresses in a variety of one-shoulder, spaghetti strap, or tank styles, wearing them proudly to royal functions.
The queen dressed just as boldly. To greet actor Rock Hudson at the Royal Film Performance in 1952, she wore a black strapless dress; during a 1954 royal tour of Australia she wore a green dress with flowing, sheer sleeves; and for an official portrait shot in 1958 at Buckingham Palace, she posed in a white, embroidered one-shoulder gown.
So why is Markle getting heat for staying within royal guidelines? Let’s start with the media. “During the earlier reign of the queen, the press was more respectful and deferred to the royal press office when deciding what to cover,” royal expert Kelly Lynch, managing editor of Dailybreak, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “However, in the 1960s and 70s, the public’s relationship with the monarchy changed — people saw them as more archaic — and so the palace became more media-friendly.”
The monarchy’s growing accessibility invited more public critique. Today, the press is aggressive in its pursuit of the royals, and social media invites diverse opinions. So when Markle, who is new to the royal culture, looks fashion-forward — while standing alongside her traditional, buttoned-up sister-in-law Kate Middleton — her shoulders become a news story.
“Meghan is easier to target because she’s still learning the ropes,” says Lynch. “When Kate joined the family, she was equally criticized for her ‘commoner’ look and shorter hemlines.”
The notion that Markle is disrupting royal tradition is unfair, says Lynch. “Meghan is likely more worried about where to stand on the balcony, when to curtsy to the queen, and not screw up royal events,” she points out. “To believe that Meghan deliberately chose a particular dress knowing it would disrespect the queen is ridiculous.”
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