Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle’s symbolic dresses at the Queen’s funeral

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Funerals, it must be said, rarely provide opportunities for making bold fashion statements. The occasions themselves are obviously modest and respectful, their dress codes among the simplest and most obligatory of all dress codes.

The funeral of a British monarch has particularly strict protocols. Monday’s service in honor of Queen Elizabeth II highlighted the height of European formality, as the event was largely facilitated by people whose outfits had been decided for them well in advance by the royal, military and religious tradition. Three of the Queen’s four children, for example, wore military uniforms – the expected funeral dress for working royals with military titles – as they walked in the royal funeral procession. Prince William too. (Prince Harry, who renounced his status as a working royal in 2020, and Prince Andrew, who was stripped of his military titles earlier this year amid a scandal, were exceptions, dressing rather simple morning suits.)

Yet finding subtle ways to communicate through clothing choices is a skill, as well as a royal tradition in its own right: Elizabeth herself, who died on September 8, was known to send messages of support and affection, as well as to affirm it. own power, through the clothes she wore in public. On Monday, the three most important remaining women of the royal family, the few highly visible funeral assistants with some leeway in terms of what to wear, put the same strategy to use. All wore tasteful funeral ensembles with loving touches in honor of the Queen, but managed to send a trio of different messages.

Catherine, Princess of Wales (aka Kate Middleton) and wife of Prince William, wore a black, double-breasted, pointed shoulder blazer dress with pleats, a narrow waist and a moderately deep V-neckline. The angular garment was a black version of the Alexander McQueen dress she wore earlier this year to a Platinum Jubilee event. She paired the ensemble with a wide-brimmed black hat, as well as two selections from the Queen’s extensive jewelery collection: a pair of long pearl earrings (given to the Queen by Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa of Bahrain in 1947) and a dramatic beaded choker (made from pearls that the Japanese government gave to the royal family and worn by Princess Diana in 1982) that stood out strikingly against the dark hues of the day.

As Catherine moves up the royal line to become queen consort-in-waiting, her profile rises further in the public eye; her husband’s time on the throne, once a somewhat distant possibility, now seems more concrete and imminent. Its eye-catching ensemble invoked the power suits and bold fashions of the 1980s – and indicated comfort with the blazing spotlight of national attention.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, on the other hand, chose a scoop-neck dress with a subtle black cape, pairing it with understated diamond and pearl earrings was given to him by the queen. Her cape dress – literally a shroud, a form one can disappear into – was solemn and demure, and, like her sister-in-law, Meghan wore a silhouette she had worn before, repeating the Stella McCartney design she wore in blue to the Queen’s birthday concert in 2018.

Ahead of Monday’s event, tabloids and magazines speculated whether Meghan (who, along with Harry, “stepped back” from royal duties in early 2020) would attend the funeral at all, due to the strained relations with the royal family that she has described in the past. Meghan also expressed his dismay at his portrayals in several UK media outletsand a modest dress like this is what you wear when you want to minimize the chances of you being called catchy; when you would like to blend into the background and be excluded from the story. When you’d like no one to talk about your clothes, except maybe to see that you match the tone of the occasion.

Meghan and Harry back in the royal spotlight as they bid farewell to the Queen

But it was Camilla, the Queen Consort – the wife of new King Charles III – who looked most like Elizabeth at Monday’s funeral.

As Charles ascends the throne, the future of the monarchy is somewhat uncertain: he has would have considered “shrinking” the monarchy, as other nations have done in recent years – by stripping some less prominent members of the royal family of their titles and thereby reducing the tax burden on civilians. But the choice of Camilla’s funeral dress did not indicate such a break with history. She wore a slightly boxy black dress with a crisp collar with an elegant little hat and a brooch on her left shoulder: a silhouette and accessory couple often associated with Elizabeth. (The pin, according to UK outlet Metro, belonged to Queen Victoriagiven to him on the occasion of his Diamond Jubilee by his grandchildren.)

Although Camilla was surrounded Monday by the hallmarks of a changing world – the cool bare ankle loafers worn by her granddaughter, for example, not to mention the live cameras set up all around the perimeter – she nonetheless communicated that, for now, at least, the monarchy as the world knows it lives on.

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