From royal rebellion to fashion influence: The striking parallels between Princess Diana and Meghan Markle

Danielle Fowler
Freelance Writer
How do Princess Diana and Meghan Markle compare? [Photo: Getty]

Princess Diana was just 36-years-old when she tragically lost her life in a history-making accident in Paris.

Fast forward twenty years, and Meghan Markle is the same age busy prepping to wed her son, Prince Harry, in a ceremony destined to be watched by millions across the globe.

But how similar is Meghan to her late mother-in-law?

From their reigning fashion influence to protocol-breaking behaviour, these are the striking parallels drawn between Princess Diana and Meghan Markle.

Shy Di vs Markle’s sparkle

In a recent interview with Tatler, royal biographer Andrew Morton pinpointed one major difference between Princess Diana and Meghan Markle. While researching for his new book, ‘Meghan: A Hollywood Princess’, Morton delved into the former actress’s childhood.

“Diana was shy compared to Meghan. In school plays, Diana always stood at the back of the stage and made sure she didn’t have a line,” Morton revealed. “Whereas Meghan took the lead, had a presence on stage and took part in school debates.”

Princess Diana photographed outside of her flat back in 1980 [Photo: Getty]

Back in 1980, a fresh-faced Princess Diana was thrust into the media spotlight at just 19-years-old. Travelling to and from work at New England Kindergarten in West London soon became a daily struggle with the paparazzi’s camera shutters capturing her every move.

As a consequence to her blushing smile and timid wave from behind the wheel of her car, the media soon gave her the title of ‘Shy Di’.

In stark comparison, Meghan thrives best under attention and particularly demonstrated this back in her teenage years. It was recently revealed that the former actress was crowned Homecoming Queen at high school and donned what would be her first tiara of many with innate ease.

Diana’s traditional generation vs Meghan’s Hollywood climb

Princess Diana was ambitious but left school without any specific qualifications to aid her in a future career. Morton explains that she was ‘from a generation and social background where marriage and genteel work were the acceptable road’.

Princess Diana worked as a nursery school teacher before wedding Prince Charles [Photo: Getty]

Meghan on the other hand, worked her way up thanks to her feminist credentials. With an eye on a career in Hollywood, she followed in the footsteps of her father. Thomas Markle Snr worked as a lighting director for hit shows including ‘Married with Chlidren’ and Meghan would often spend her evenings after school on set to gain experience.

Princess Diana and Meghan Markle’s reigning fashion influence

In a recent report, global fashion search platform Lyst named Princess Diana the most influential royal in fashion history. Up against the likes of Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duchess of Cambridge, the late Princess of Wales stole the crown thanks to her millennial-approved penchant for power shoulders.

According to the fashion giant, the ‘Dynasty Di’ effect is still in full swing, as search for everything from cold-shoulder tops to super-sized silhouettes have increased over the past two years.

And the late royal’s fashion influence was given a whole new lease of life 20 years after her tragic death, as Kensington Palace hosted exhibition, ‘Princess Diana: Her Fashion Story’, in celebration of her life.

Back in 1997, Princess Diana held a charity auction by selling some of her most coveted outfits [Photo: Getty]

Following in her soon-to-be mother-in-law’s sartorial footprints, Meghan Markle has been flexing her fashion muscles on a series of royal engagements alongside Prince Harry. The former actress has swapped her Hollywood wardrobe for a Buckingham Palace-approved aesthetic with floor-skimming hemlines and Philip Treacy hats galore.

Princess Diana wore a tartan co-ord by Caroline Charles back in 1982 while Meghan Markle flew the Scottish flag on her debut trip to Edinburgh in Stella McCartney [Photo: Getty]

Whether it’s a checked Burberry coat or a Strathberry bag, Meghan has demonstrated serious pulling power over recent months. So much so, that the ‘Meghan Effect’ is estimated to contribute an eye-watering £500 million to the UK economy.

For her debut Commonwealth, Meghan Markle seemingly sought sartorial inspiration from Princess Diana in an Amanda Wakeley coat [Photo: Getty]

While many are quick to draw comparisons between the Duchess of Cambridge and future sister-in-law Meghan’s wardrobes, it’s interesting to note the striking similarities between Diana and the former actress. From a love of tartan to minimal silhouettes.

Queens of people’s hearts

Princess Diana once famously said that she did not wish to become the Queen of England but a ‘Queen of People’s Hearts’. And through her humanitarian work and philanthropic endeavours, she certainly earned her right to the title.

Princess Diana greets crowds in Brixton back in 1983 [Photo: Getty]

Back in April 1987, the late princess graced the headlines after simply shaking hands with a HIV positive man at London Middlesex Hospital. Due to a lack of understanding and misinformation about the illness, it was believed to be contagious.

However, by removing her gloves to offer compassion to the young man she publicly challenged the world’s stereotype thus changing the course of history forever.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle meet royal fans in Brixton 35 years later [Photo: Getty]

And just months after her engagement to Prince Harry was announced, Meghan has already garnered a place in people’s hearts across the globe too.

In one striking image, the former ‘Suits’ actress mirrors Diana after embracing a young pupil while on her debut trip to Birmingham. Harry introduced 10-year-old Sophia Richards to his fiancee after she expressed ambitions of becoming an actress when she grows up.

Meghan Markle made one girl’s ‘dreams come true’ after giving her some words of advice on a royal engagement [Photo: Getty]

In a protocol-breaking move, Meghan wrapped the young girl into a huge cuddle. Richards later told local reporters: “Meghan told me that I can achieve whatever I want to achieve and Meghan said she would like to see me on TV when I become an actress. It was a dream come true. I will never forget this day.”

Meghan will also take on a greater role in terms of working alongside charities following her May 19 nuptials.

Both Diana and Meghan have captured the hearts of people from across the globe [Photo: Getty]

“What unites both of them is the desire in wanting to give back and make a difference,” Morton told Tatler. “By the time they got into their 30s, Meghan and Diana were independent humanitarians with a vision. There’s a sense that Meghan is picking up the baton dropped by Diana”

Diana and Meghan: The Buckingham Palace rule breakers

From sneaking Princes Harry and William into McDonald’s to day trips in Thorpe Park, Princess Diana strived to give her sons a slice of life outside of the gates of Kensington Palace.

Princess Diana would often take her sons out on day trips to ensure that they enjoyed life from outside the gates of Kensington Palace [Photo: Getty]

And Meghan has certainly taken on her protocol-breaking behaviour. Ever since her engagement to Harry was announced, the 36-year-old has proven that she is set to bring personality to her role within the royal family.

For her first ever royal evening engagement, Meghan Markle eschewed the traditional gown in favour of a slick suit by Alexander McQueen [Photo: Getty]

Though her now-trademark messy bun may seem like just a hairstyle of choice (coiffed by stylist to the stars, Miguel Perez), the former actress is well aware of the refreshing statement it makes.

Despite negative backlash, it’s become her go-to look finished with everything from protocol-breaking accessories such as the cross-body bag to her androgynous spin on evening wear.

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