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Why do Meghan and Kate copy Diana's style?

Do you consider Kate and Meghan's style to be influenced by Diana? Have your say by voting in our poll.

Meghan and Kate often pay tribute to Princess Diana with their looks. (Getty Images)
Meghan and Kate often pay tribute to Princess Diana with their looks. (Getty Images)

Princess Diana has long been established as a fashion icon, setting trends that are still followed by thousands of people to this day — including Meghan and Kate.

Paying sartorial homage to their late mother-in-law, though neither woman ever met her, guarantees a barrage of headlines both in the UK and internationally, with fans and critics alike also poring over the comparative looks on social media.

It's unsurprising both the current Princess of Wales and Duchess of Sussex mirror or echo aspects of Diana’s style – you’d be hard pressed to find a trend entirely untouched by Diana’s influence over the last couple of decades.

However, Meghan and Kate, but particularly the current Princess of Wales, take it a step further with incredibly explicit fashion tributes.

So, why are the two women so keen to emulate Diana, rather than carve out a more distinctive style of their own?

Meghan's choice of hat to the Remembrance day service in 2019 sparked many comparisons to a similar one of Diana's, which she also wore to the sombre occasion. (Getty Images)
Meghan's 2019 Remembrance day service hat sparked comparisons to a similar one of Diana's, which she wore to the sombre occasion years prior. (Getty Images)

“I think now the comparisons are most notable in Kate but that's probably because she makes many more public appearances than Meghan," says Bethan Holt, author of The Duchess of Cambridge: A Decade of Royal Style and The Queen: 70 Years of Majestic Style.

"Plus, the clothes Kate's wearing for her engagements are dressed-up and smart and there's over a decade of similarly polished Diana looks to compare these with so comparisons are bound to happen.

"I'm sure it would be something both women would discuss with their husbands when it's intentional but it's a fitting way to pay tribute to Diana, given that fashion was something she was so well known for. It's a nice way to keep her memory alive in a very non-controversial way."

A green Erdem ensemble Meghan wore in 2019 was reminiscent of a look Diana wore in 1982, while she was also pregnant.
A green Erdem ensemble Meghan wore in 2019 was reminiscent of a look Diana wore in 1982, while she was also pregnant. (Getty Images)

While Holt feels some of the comparisons are coincidental, another expert – fashion psychologist Carolyn Mair – felt they were likely to be more purposeful.

"Our clothes don’t just fall on us so the notion of dressing like Diana subconsciously is very unlikely," Mair tells Yahoo UK. "I would assume a great deal of thought goes into both the royals' looks and so what they wear is a conscious decision."

Holt says some of Kate and Meghan's most memorable looks that spurred comparisons to Diana crossed decades and demonstrated the expansiveness of the former Princess of Wales' style.

“I always think of the Prada dress which Kate wore to mark the 20th anniversary of Diana's death. With its delicate floral print and pussy bow neckline, it reminded us of Diana's early '80s style - a time when she was so young and innocent, and before all the drama which later unfolded had truly begun.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30:  Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge  visit The Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace on August 30, 2017 in London, England.  The garden has been transformed into a White Garden dedicated in the memory of Princess Diana, mother of The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry.  (Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Holt thinks this Prada dress worn by Kate to mark 20th anniversary of Diana's death was one of her most memorable tributes to her mother-in-law. (Getty Images)

“More recently at Trooping the Colour, you could really feel a Diana influence in the bold emerald colour of Kate's Andrew Gn outfit and her wide-brimmed hat was just like something Diana would have worn in the mid '80s," says the royal author.

"This felt like tribute to Diana as a power dresser, at the height of her 'Dynasty Di' era."

Kate's recent outfit for Trooping the Colour was similar to one Diana wore to the event in 1988. (Getty Images)
Kate's recent outfit for Trooping the Colour was similar to one Diana wore to the event in 1988. (Getty Images)

When it comes to Meghan, we've seen more references to '90s Diana, Holt explains.

"The jeans and white shirt she wore for a charity visit in LA were very similar to the looks Diana wore for her more relaxed engagements after her divorce," she says.

Meghan's favoured look of an oversized white shirt and jeans is similar to Diana's more casual or off-duty looks from the 90s. (Getty Images)
Meghan's favoured look of an oversized white shirt and jeans is similar to Diana's more casual or off-duty looks from the 90s. (Getty Images)
Last year Kate wore a polkadot look to Royal Ascot that seemingly paid tribute to one Princess Diana wore to the horse racing event. (Getty Images)
Last year Kate wore a polka dot look to Royal Ascot that seemingly paid tribute to one Princess Diana wore to the horse racing event. (Getty Images)

Through their marriages, both Kate and Meghan have access to the late Diana’s enviable jewellery collection and pay tribute to her this way.

Meghan regularly opts for Diana’s Cartier tank watch while Kate’s sapphire engagement ring is the very same one her mother-in-law wore.

Mair notes: "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so the saying goes. Diana was admired and loved by millions. She was probably one of the most loved royals in history so emulating her look would be a way to demonstrate their admiration of her."

While it certainly demonstrates that Meghan and Kate think highly of their mother-in-law’s fashion impact, it also raises the possibility that they are keener to align themselves with someone so universally beloved than to take over her role of trendsetter and innovator.

"Looking back now, we certainly see Diana as someone who really used fashion to her advantage and had a lot of fun with it," Holt says. "I think she really grew into her role as a fashion influencer in the 90s when she was much more confident and knew how to wield her fashion power. What Meghan and Kate do (Kate especially) is take existing trends and make them much bigger and more relevant.

"Once they've worn a trend, the world takes notice."