T The tacky, in love, you-can-not-wrong honeymoon stage between the new Duchess of Sussex and the media lasted exactly three weeks. On Saturday, June 9, former Princess Meghan Markle, who made her first appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after moving to the colorful celebration, wore a pale pink Carolina Herrera dress with a wide, strapless collar. "Some have quickly noticed that they have bowed one of the staunchest rules of the British royal family," said Hello! "The royal protocol usually advises women should keep their shoulders covered."
A few weeks later, at Wimbledon's women's singles finale, the daring return of the Duchess' signature was the big news from the royal box bun. "Meghan Markle has been keeping to the elegant style of the Royals lately … but This weekend, her messy hairstyle and casual look were back, "Vanity Fair noted, as if strands of unhardened hair were not enough to call the Duchess the greatest royal lawbreaker, for the Duchess of Devonshire was 1
It has been 100 days since she became a Duchess, and the "breaking royal protocol" narrative has emerged as a plot that turns her tale into a modern one. It's a slogan that has almost nothing to do with their relationship to the royal family and everything related to their relationship with the public.
The first "scandal" of the Duchess's married life came when she was at her father's law birthday party, she was photographed in sheer pantyhose. It was reported that the tights were on behalf of the Queen, but I find it hard to believe that the Queen is so petite as to issue tights editions (the Duchess of Cambridge does not always cling to her, if so). It seems more likely that the tights were just an attempt to appear formal, which fails in the light of flash photography. Nonetheless, little was said about it in social media for days on end. A pair of unphotogenic tights proving that a 36-year-old woman who had survived a familiar pre-wedding firestorm and saved grace and dignity from millions of wedding guests, had given up free will and subjected Gilead-esque rules within days to stretch the meaning of hosiery.
Duchess's image as a rule-breaker is catnip because she cuts both ways. It enlivens those who disapprove of them and cheer them on. Even if the breach of the royal protocol is used as a reminder, many in public see it as their greatest asset. As the first biracial woman to join the royal family, the first to have a successful career, the first self-proclaimed feminist and the first divorced woman, she is a revolutionary force in Britain just to be herself. Everything that happens in their orbit – from Bishop Michael Curry, who references Martin Luther King during their wedding ceremony, to a few strands of hair that escaped from their updo – is seen through this lens.
The discussion about their clothes never really revolves around clothes. When Kate Middleton married Prince William seven years ago, interest in her wardrobe turned to price tags. The forensic investigation of how much she'd paid for her LK Bennett shoes and travel jackets was a barely veiled vehicle for the cursed obsession of coming from a family that was not upmarket enough. With the Duchess of Sussex we are interested in how exciting and refreshing she is as a king, and so her wardrobe focuses on how formal or informal she is.
In general, the British public likes its royal women as glamorous as possible, but the duchess has a new appetite for deshabille. Her outfit for Wimbledon – the messy bun, along with a striped, blue-and-white Ralph Lauren shirt and cream-colored pajamas – was her best outfit since the wedding. This was a more elegant version of the oversized white shirt and ripped blue jeans she wore last September for her first public appearance with her then-boyfriend. A sharp but understated black Givenchy trouser suit worn on July 11 during an official visit to Dublin was also loved by fashion critics. The voluminous blue-and-white toile de jouy maxi dress Oscar de la Renta, which she had worn for the wedding of her husband's cousin Celia McCorquodale – by far the boldest and most fashionable choice of the last 100 days – was caught cold reception. No one wants to be fashion-conscious of the Duchess, it seems. Those of us who do not want them in bare tights would prefer to have them in torn jeans and a white shirt.
She has developed a signature that addresses as broad a church as possible. The most striking feature is the wide, bateau neckline that was seen on her Givenchy wedding dress and has been seen many times since. This neckline is featured on a cream Givenchy dress, as well as a Dior number in a Navy belt and an olive green Ralph Lauren ensemble. So this is an instruction that comes from the wearer and not the designer. Tailor-made dresses like these are preferred by women in public around the world, because a molded form will reliably flatter you from every angle, but it can be a bit of ice queen in tone.
The Bateau neckline is an adult, non-dingy way of showing enough skin to give this look warmth. It's a preppy, non-specific vintage style by a certain kind of upscale, Europeanized American woman – Grace Kelly, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and now the Duchess of Sussex.
Interest in the cloakrooms of the Duchesses of Sussex and Cambridge is compounded by the generational balance of the royal family. That the Queen is a true icon was undoubtedly proven when she wore a brooch that Barack and Michelle Obama had given her to meet with Donald Trump, but she's also 92 and probably will not experiment with new silhouettes or hairstyles. In the royal glamor stakes, the duchesses on the global stage have to do the hard work without looking as if they are turning the monarch on its head. The predominance of bridesmaid-style blush pink and moral navy in their wardrobes – a sunshine-yellow shift dress from the Duchess of Sussex, which is a notable exception – is a demonstration of homage to the Queen, who possesses bright colors at public events.
Our new royal is fascinating to watch, because the balancing act she has to perform is almost impossible. The Duchess of Sussex is to show us the way to the royal family of the future without, however, showing respect for the royal family of today. We encourage them to break the royal record, but we admire and praise them when they stay away from the scandals that surround them. We want our royal women to be real, humane and modern these days – and that is progress. The catch is that we still want them to be perfect.