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A Royal Wedding Expert Explains the Significance of Meghan Markle’s Dress

Meghan Markle is “rather like a magician in the way she finds the delicate balance between remaining true to her own sense of style while honouring the elements expected of a royal wedding,” says historian and curator Alexandra Kim.

Kim currently works as acting curator at the City of Toronto, but spent four years in a similar role at Kensington Palace, which makes her a rare expert on royal ceremonial dress.

While thoroughly modern Meghan and Harry have frequently displayed their penchant for breaking royal rules — No fruitcake at the wedding! No pantyhose in the engagement photos! — “They’re not there to upend every royal tradition, they just want to add their own stamp on it,” Kim says.

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It was speculated that Markle might break with tradition by not wearing a tiara, but she ended up selecting the Queen Mary’s Diamond Bandeau tiara, which Kim suggests Markle selected for its art deco, unfussy elements – well, about as unfussy as a tiara can be. As for the dress? “Her [choice of wedding dress] is bold but simple, and yes, it conforms to all those things you’d expect from royal wedding dress.”

Though the dress followed plenty of royal protocol including long sleeves and covered-up cleavage, Kim does acknowledge that it does not resemble any royal wedding dress worn to date. “The lack of ornamentation has echoes of Princess Margaret’s royal wedding dress, but that had a very different skirt and neckline. In the way Margaret’s dress had drama in its simplicity, that’s what you’re getting here.”

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Clare Waight Keller as dress designer was a total curveball choice. “She’s very British, British-born and British-trained, and yet she’s gone on to head up this big French fashion house [Givenchy], which is a surprise for the British royal wedding.” Kim notes that Givenchy is most frequently associated with another famous actress: Audrey Hepburn, and “the similarities between Meghan and Audrey that makes them a very suitable choice.”

Perhaps the most striking element of Meghan’s appearance was how natural it all felt. “She looks so comfortable, not somebody who is feeling nervous or anxious at all, ” remarks Kim. “She just looks at home in the dress and the new life she’s heading into.”

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