BY ROYAL APPOINTMENT: The Queen shows how it should be done – with shoulders covered up
The little black tuxedo mini dress the Duchess of Sussex wore to last week’s charity performance of the hit musical Hamilton would have barely raised an eyebrow in her former life as a successful Hollywood actress.
But the thigh-skimming outfit that showed off her impressively well-toned – and scandalously bare – legs was decidedly risque for her new starring role as a British Royal.
In fact, Meghan’s £459 dress by Canadian label Judith & Charles broke no fewer than four golden rules of the rigid dress code of the Royal Family.
There is, of course, no formal rule book, but the Queen has made it clear that there is an unwritten protocol which dictates what Royal women should wear – and when.
Such is the universal respect in which Her Majesty is held that even the most unconventional members of ‘The Firm’ have generally adhered to her fashion guidelines, which favour discretion over vulgarity and practicality over glamour.
Indeed, even the most rebellious of Royals, Princess Diana, dared not flout convention until after the breakdown of her marriage to Prince Charles: who can forget the strikingly sexy ‘revenge’ dress by Greek designer Christina Stambolian she pointedly wore to the Serpentine Gallery’s summer party on the night Prince Charles confessed his affair on television?
So perhaps it’s fitting that it has been left to Diana’s daughter-in-law Meghan, the face of a more modern Monarchy, to be more flagrant.
Not only did the Duchess appear with no flesh-coloured tights to cover her slender legs, but she also wore a daring pair of vertiginous heels.
Worse, the dress was – quite appallingly – black and – shock horror – cut above the knee.
So what are the Royal fashion rules that govern what the Royals can and can’t wear? And how is Meghan breaking them?
Rule No1: NO BARE LEGS
Baring your sun-tanned legs may be OK in California, but according to Royal etiquette, one should wear tights – or stockings – for formal occasions. Meghan appears to be a repeat rule-breaker, as these outfits from The Commonwealth Youth Challenge reception in London (left), at Dublin Airport (centre) and at an Invictus Games event in April (right), show
Rule No2: NO SKIRTS ABOVE THE KNEE
A glimpse of thigh hardly merits a second glance at even the most sophisticated events these days, but in Royal circles showing a knee is a no-no. Modesty rules in the House of Windsor, so heaven knows what the Queen made of Meghan’s daring display of her well-toned pins at the Hamilton show
Try tailoring like Meghan in a tuxedo dress by Judith & Charles $595
Judith & Charles 'Digital' dress
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It feels like forever since we last saw royal newlyweds the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but they're back to a busy schedule after a summer break.
And what a way to return to engagements! They attended a gala performance of Hamilton in aid of Sentebale, with Meghan choosing a very smart little black dress for the occasion.
Her double breasted blazer dress is by Judith & Charles, another Canadian brand that Meghan is bringing to our attention. When teamed with her signature bun, a box clutch and a pair of black court heels, it's a very sleek look.
Interested in recreating Meghan's fresh take on tailoring? Click (right) to buy the dress on the brand's website in either black or aubergine.
Alternatively, get suited up with the help of our edit below. From Boohoo right up to Balmain, we've got all budgets covered!* PRICES MAY NOT BE AS ADVERTISED ...NOW GET ONE LIKE IT Previous Next $42
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Rule No3: ...AND NO BLACK
Black is traditionally reserved among Royals for public displays of mourning – but Meghan has other ideas, as seen here at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in April (left) and at Holyrood House in February.
Rule No4: ...OR TROUSER SUITS
The Queen prefers Royal women to wear skirts or dresses but Meghan got the slacks out in Dublin in July
Rule No5: NO SHOULDERS ON SHOW
Meghan broke rules on the Palace balcony for Trooping the Colour in June – her bare shoulders standing out against Kate’s more modest frock
The same went for her coat-dress in July which she wore to the Mandela Centenary Launch, at the Southbank Centre, London
But here’s one style rule where she HAS decided to get in step with the Windsors
When it comes to her feet, Meghan is toeing the Royal line. Two years ago, on her now defunct lifestyle blog, The Tig, she posted a snap of her £20,000 shoe collection, including the £254 Sarah Flint tan leather pumps which she wore at last year’s Invictus Games. Since then, she has worn photo-friendly stilettos – as seen here. From left are the pair she wore at the Kensington Palace announcement of her engagement; at the Stephen Lawrence Memorial Service
Palace insiders have revealed that she has been advised against wearing spike heels on her forthcoming tour of Australia and New Zealand. In a rare compromise, she has bought some kitten heels to wear in the daytime though she will still wear high heels in the evening. Pictured left in Lisburn in Ireland in March and at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey