At the Invictus Games in Holland, Meghan Markle is making her first international trip with Prince Harry since stepping down as senior royals in 2020.
It was the same event, the 2017 Invictus Games, where she made her first public appearance as ‘Prince Harry’s girlfriend’. Not even engaged at that point, it was the first time Harry met her mum Doria, it nevertheless marked the then Suits star’s arrival onto the global stage. Part of the package, it was clear from the off, was a wild interest in everything she wore – and why.
Back then, it was Meghan’s oversized white shirt that got everyone talking. Much speculation followed about the shirt’s style name – the Husband – as if she was trying to transmit some sort of not-so-secret secret message. Who knows?
Meghan looked great but – and I mean this as a compliment – she didn’t look like a royal. Her sizeable Everlane Market Tote was the kind of anonymous kitchen sink bag that so many of us have in our wardrobes, the type typically found stuffed with receipts, tampons and half-eaten Kind bars. She wore ripped jeans, she ‘shrobed’ with a leather biker jacket. Her style projected her personality. A Duchess-ing followed quickly after that: the boxy little hats, the weeny bags, the polite midi dresses, the much-maligned nude tights.
Now at the 2022 Games, we’re seeing a new fashion chapter for Meghan, one where she is navigating a space that is both public and private, where she is a Duchess but not a working royal, where her clothes will be analysed but aren’t bound by protocol and convention.
In The Hague, what we’re getting is Meghan Markle: The Fashion Editor Era. So named (currently by nobody but me, though do feel free) for her open armed embrace of the pieces that fashion editors actually wear and love. It’s like the 2017 Meghan is back, but given a haute makeover. She looks great – and I mean this as a compliment – she doesn’t look like a royal.
For her first appearance, she was inhabiting a 21st century Bianca Jagger mood in a sleek Valentino white suit worn with its One Stud bag. It was a modern, fashion literate, luxe take on power dressing. It was worn the way the style set like to, and which working Duchesses probably aren’t allowed to, with (apparently) nothing underneath. In a word? Chic.
On day two, her most ‘fashion editor’ look so far, one that slotted in seamlessly to the effortless/elevated matrix. So there was a white tee and rolled up low-rise jeans (effortless) worn with Chanel two-tone ballet flats and a Celine by Hedi Slimane cropped, gold-buttoned tweed jacket and Triomphe bag (effortless and elevated, Harry was also wearing Celine, a navy wool gabardine suit). Her A-list aviator sunglasses were Linda Farrow's Newman frames. That evening, she opted for a twisted, off-the-shoulder bodysuit by Khaite, the New York label loved by fashion girls. Again, she looked fantastic.
Meghan’s 2022 Invictus moment reminds me a lot of divorce-era Diana, who could subtly, elegantly revolt through her clothes. As well as unveiling a newfound confidence, once it was clear she was going her own way, she was free to dress how she wanted. Take 1994’s so-called ‘revenge dress’; that had reportedly been rejected three years earlier for being too daring. Or look at her love of the Lady Dior bag; British royals were supposed to carry British bags (if at all).
The tabloids love to splash the price tags over everything Meghan wears now. And, sure, it’s expensive garb – it’s also all non-British designers, although it’s jumping the shark to say there’s an agenda there. Not everything she does has a motive, but nevertheless, there is meaning. Principally, that she is no longer confined by the PR-approved need to punctuate her look with relatable high-street or mid-price pieces, no need to dress ‘diplomatically’. But now, she is also aware first-hand of the scrutiny, the steady hand politics required for all women getting dressed in positions of elected, inherited or adjacent power.
The post-actor, post-senior-royal, public-yet-private Meghan knows something that she didn't know back in 2017: she'll never 'win', however diligently she tries. That's sad, but isn't it also liberating? Now, screw it, she might as well wear what she wants.
Prince Harry And Meghan Relationship Timeline - Grazia
So when did they first meet? Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were introduced by a mutual friend in July 2016, who was later confirmed to be Violet von Westenholz, a childhood friend of Harry. Meghan said in an interview that before she met the Harry she didn't know much about him 'the only thing that I had asked [our mutual friend] was, 'Well is he nice?'. According to Harry he knew Meghan was The One from 'the very first time we met.' After only two dates Harry asked Meghan to accompany him on a trip to Botswana.
In October 2016 the Express became the first newspaper to publish news that Prince Harry had a new girlfriend. However just a month later, Kensington Palace released a statement condemning the 'wave of abuse and harassment' faced by Meghan. The unprecedented statement, which referred to Meghan as Harry's girlfriend for the first time, emphasised that Prince Harry was 'worried about Ms. Markle's safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her.' It continued: 'It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm.' The palace were also forced to address speculation that Prince William was unhappy with Harry for confirming the relationship too soon, stating 'The Duke of Cambridge absolutely understands the situation concerning privacy and supports the need for Prince Harry to support those closest to him.'
Early in December 2017 Meghan was confirmed as the most Googled actress of 2016. In the same month, the couple were photographed together for the first time in London, shopping for a Christmas tree at the Pines and Needles store and attending a performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. By January 2017 a source told US Weekly that Harry had introduced Meghan to Kate and Prince William and that the 'meeting went well'. Meanwhile a source told The Sun that Meghan had 'virtually moved in' with Prince Harry to his cottage on the Kensington Palace estate.
By March 2017 things were openly getting pretty serious between the two: Meghan accompanied Harry to Jamaica for a wedding for the first time (his friend's Tom 'Skippy' Inskip to Lara Hughes-Young). In April 2017 Meghan announced that she was closing down her lifestyle blog The Tig writing 'What began as a passion project (my little engine that could) evolved into an amazing community of inspiration, support, fun and frivolity. You've made my days brighter and filled this experience with so much joy.' In May 2017, Meghan and Harry attended their first public event together at the Polo in Coworth Park (where they also engaged in some PDA). Later in May 2017, Prince Harry was seen driving Meghan to the reception of Pippa Middleton and James Matthew's wedding.
Welcome to Meghan the style Icon: at the opening of Prince Harry's Invictus Games in September 2017, Meghan wore a maroon midi dress with a pleated chiffon skirt by one of her favourite Canadian brands, Aritzia, with a burgundy biker jacket by Mackage. The next day the couple were photographed sitting together at the wheelchair tennis and 'broke with royal protocol' by holding hands and kissing at the closing ceremony. In September 2017 in an interview with Vanity Fair, Meghan stated: 'We're a couple. We're in love. I'm sure there will be a time when we will have to come forward and present ourselves and have stories to tell, but I hope what people understand is that this is our time.'
Late 2017 we saw the end of everyone's favourite legal powerhouse Rachel Zane (sob). In November 2017, shortly after Meghan met the Queen, the actress was reported to be leaving her role in Suits after seven seasons.
After months of speculation, Prince Charles announced the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after 15 months of dating On 27 November 2017 . The engagement ring, said to be designed by Harry, is made of two stones that belonged to Princess Diana. The couple later appeared at a photocall, with Markle wearing a white dress coat by Canadian brand Line The Label (whose website subsequently crashed). When asked by waiting photographers if the proposal was romantic, Harry joked 'of course!' Speaking about his late mother, Princess Diana, Harry said 'I think they'd be thick as thieves. She would be over the moon, jumping up and down, so excited for me... It's days like today when I really miss having her around and miss being able to share the happy news. With the ring, I'm sure she's with us, jumping up and down somewhere else.' it was announced that the wedding would take place on 19 May 2018.
In December 2017 Meghan, Harry, Kate and William were photographed together attending the Christmas service at Sandringham. Pictures of the two couples earned them the title 'The Fab Four'. Meanwhile in the following months Meghan earned a reputation for breaking royal protocol on official visits by hugging fans of the couple and kissing them on the cheek.
In February 2018, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle had their first royal engagement together for the Royal Foundation Forum with Prince Harry and Prince William. Harry stated of the two couples: 'We have different opinions and they work really well [together]. Working as family does have its challenges; of course it does. The fact that everybody is laughing shows they know exactly what's it like… But we are stuck together for the rest of our lives.'
In the lead-up to the wedding it was confirmed 2,640 people would be invited to the grounds of Windsor Palace to watch the royal wedding. Photos of Meghan and Harry's wedding invitations were released, bearing Harry's legal name 'Henry'. Meghan and Harry made a number of public appearances together including to the Invictus game tryouts in April 2018 and the Queen's birthday celebrations at the Royal Albert Hall. Meghan's final episode of Suits also aired, marking the official end of her acting career.
On 14 May 2018. days before the wedding, Meghan's father, Thomas Markle Snr, who had been confirmed to walk Meghan down the aisle pulled out of the wedding, following an embarrassing incident in which he staged paid paparazzi photos. Thomas Markle later suffered a heart attack, and his son Thomas Markle Jr. penned an unflattering open letter to Harry criticising Meghan and encouraging him to pull out of the wedding. The day before the wedding, Kensington Palace announced Prince Charles would walk Meghan down the aisle, stating 'The Prince of Wales is pleased to be able to welcome Ms. Markle to The Royal Family in this way.'
Meghan and Harry wed on the 19 May 2018 for a combined audience of 11.5 million people who tuned in to watch the ceremony. Meghan's gown was made by Clare Waight Keller, artistic director of the fashion house Givenchy which she later changed for a silk crepe dress by Stella McCartney. Her mother Doria Ragland attended the ceremony along with a host of celebrities including Meghan's former Suits cast and her close friends, George and Amal Clooney.
Throughout May 2018 Harry and Meghan made their first official appearances as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. For her inaugural attendance to the Trooping of the Colour Meghan wore an off-the-shoulder dress, reportedly breaking royal protocal. In the following months the newlyweds made a number of public appearances including to Ireland to meet the country's officials. They also took a rumoured trip to visit George and Amal Clooney in Lake Como.
Speculation began during Princess Eugenie's wedding that Meghan was pregnant owing to her loose coat. The rumours were confirmed when Kensington Palace announced on the 15 October 2018 that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were expecting a child. The announcement also coincided with the first day of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's official tour.
In October 2018 Meghan and Harry departed for their 16-day Autumn royal tour visiting Australia, Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand (obviously featuring some serious style moments from the newly-appointed Duchess of Style). By November 2018, sources were telling news outlets that the couple were preparing to move to Frogmore Cottage in Windsor in 2019. The couple spent the anniversary of their engagement apart, due to Harry being in Zambia.
As Meghan and Harry embarked on life as newlyweds there was less plainsailing, as controversy continued to follow closely on their heels. Meghan's family have continued to be the subject of unflattering media headlines and Thomas Markle gave interviews to the media about his distanced relationship with his daughter. Meanwhile Samantha Markle (Meghan's half sister) was put on a 'fixated persons' list after showing up at Kensington Palace. Rumours of a froideur between Meghan and Kate were sparked shortly after Meghan and Harry's nuptials by reports that Meghan reduced Kate 'to tears' during challenging bridesmaid dress fittings with Princess Charlotte. In February 2019, Thomas Markle leaked a handwritten letter from Meghan to the media in response to friends of the Duchess defending her in an interview. Following numerous staff changes, rumours arise that Meghan and Harry's staff refer to Meghan by the nickname 'The difficult Duchess'.
In March 2019 it was confirmed that the Sussex and Cambridge 'royal households' would split, meaning the couples would no longer share staff. Royal spokespersons confirmed that Kate and William's staff team would stay in Kensington Palace while Meghan and Harry's staff would be based in Buckingham Palace, reflecting the location of their new residence of Frogmore Cottage in Windsor. Representatives were quick to confirm this it was a planned move, and not due to rumours of growing tensions between the couples.
Meghan Markle gave birth to Prince Archie on 6 May 2019, he weighed 7lbs 3oz. On the 8 May the new parents did a photocall at Windsor Castle, showing their newborn off to the world.
Prince Harry released a powerful statement condemning the treatment of his wife and explaining why she was taking legal action against The Mail on Sunday. It read: 'As a couple, we believe in media freedom and objective, truthful reporting. We regard it as a cornerstone of democracy and in the current state of the world – on every level – we have never needed responsible media more.'
In March 2020, Meghan and Harry completed their last official royal duties, having made the decision to step away from royal life.
To mark Archie's first birthday, Meghan read Duck! Rabbit! in a video to help Save The Children's Save With Stories initiative. In the clip, Meghan laughs as Archie throws another book to the floor, as his attention wanders. Harry is also heard cheering at the end of the story, and Archie responds by saying, 'Da, da, da.'
Harry and Meghan remained out of the limelight for much of 2020 and early 2021, with lockdown keeping them at home in their California mansion. They did, however, participate in many Zoom calls with charities and foundations. The privacy that lockdown enabled them also meant that they could grieve in relative piece after Meghan experienced a miscarriage, and could keep the happy news of their forthcoming new arrival secret for as long as they liked.
After Prince Harry had a jovial interview with James Corden, Meghan met with Oprah Winfrey for an in-depth chat. Harry, of course, popped in to say hello. The interview proved controversial, sparking thousands of headlines and think pieces.
On 4 June 2021, Harry and Meghan welcome Lilibet Diana to their family, her name honouring the Queen, who was nicknamed Lilibet as a child.
After taking time to be with their new baby, in April 2022, the couple travelled to the Netherlands for The Invictus Games, the international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women - and a passion project of Prince Harry's.