Recently, reports emerged that Prince Harry vetoed a tuxedo that his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, wanted to wear during their upcoming tour to Australia and New Zealand. Granted, such reports originated in the Daily Mail, so it’s unwise to give them too much credence. But what the story has done is remind the world of the incredibly strict royal dress codes that, unsurprisingly, restrict the female members of the family much more than any of the men.
The rules include not wearing anything too low-cut, no open-toed shoes (unless they have a heel), no bare legs or short skirts, no black for daytime events and no big handbags or totes. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of options, which suggests why Markle has been wearing variations on a theme of late: midi-length pencil dresses with a high neckline and heeled court shoes. What is interesting is that many media outlets are criticising her recent choice of clothes, suggesting that she’s “given in” to demands made by the royal family. She has, however, also been criticised for “defying protocol” when she wore an off-the-shoulder neckline to the Trooping the Colour ceremony. The good news is it all just goes to prove that women will be reduced to what they wear whatever happens! Brilliant.
It’s hardly a surprise that the royal family would have a dress code. It does, however, seem out of date and places restrictions on women that leave them with few options. But let’s be honest, even if such dress codes weren’t in place, the media would still scrutinise every outfit worn by Markle and her new female relatives regardless. The royal wedding was lauded as a turning point for Britain, with pundits discussing what having a mixed-race feminist duchess meant. Let’s hope that her own voice will still be loud enough to drown out the endless conversation regarding the neckline of her dress.