Members of the royal family have used their clothing to punctuate important milestones and events throughout history, with today’s royals being no exception.
Color plays a large role in the wardrobes of the royals, with Queen Elizabeth II famously opting for bright hues for her workwear. The late monarch said she needed to be “seen to be believed” in a large crowd.
In December 2022, Meghan Markle gave compelling insight into the fashion expectations placed on the British royals. She said in her Netflix docuseries that she opted for muted tones not to pull focus from more senior members of the family.
“Most of the time that I was in the UK, I rarely wore color. There was thought in that,” Meghan said.
“To my understanding, you can’t ever wear the same color as Her Majesty, if there’s a group event. But then you also should never be wearing the same color as one of the other, more-senior members of the family.
“So I was, like, “Well, what’s a color that they’ll probably never wear?” Camel? Beige? White? So I wore a lot of muted tones, but it also was so I could just blend in.”
When it came to undertaking her final royal engagements in 2020 before stepping away from the monarchy with Prince Harry, the duchess shed these constraints. She said, “I just felt like, ‘Let’s just look like a rainbow.'”
Among the brightest colors favored by royal women are a range of statement reds that have been expertly worn by the likes of Princess Diana, Kate Middleton, Meghan and Queen Camilla.
Here, Newsweek looks at the top 10 times royal women wore statement red to public events.
Princess Diana, Red Cross Event, Washington, June 17, 1997
Princess Diana had a special fondness for the color red, with a number of her most-striking outfits featuring it in some way, from evening dresses to day suits.
One of Diana’s most-famous red fashion moments took place in June 1997 on a visit to Washington, where she was campaigning for the elimination of anti-personnel landmines.
For an evening gala, the royal wore a Jacques Azagury evening dress in red with a beaded bodice and statement waist tie. The event was in honor of the American Red Cross, and the color paid tribute to this. The princess became well known for making statements through the clever use of her wardrobe.
Princess Diana, Final Royal Engagement, London, July 21, 1997
On July 21, 1997, Princess Diana visited St Mark’s Hospital in northwest London to lay the foundation stone of a new children’s medical centre. For the occasion, the royal wore a chic, streamlined, red day dress with a simple matching belt.
The engagement would take on a new significance when, on August 31, news broke that Diana had been killed in a high-speed Paris car crash with then-boyfriend Dodi Fayed. The red dress, designed by Catherine Walker, would be the last piece she wore for a public event.
Queen Elizabeth II, Christmas Day, 2015
Queen Elizabeth II had a number of statement red outfits in her wardrobes for official daytime events. However, the color appears not to have been her favorite for eveningwear.
On Christmas Day, the monarch debuted a new statement red coat with fur collar detail at the annual Sandringham church service in Norfolk, eastern England, attended by extended members of the royal family.
The queen matched the color of her coat perfectly to the band on her favorite style of clear umbrella. It allowed crowds to see her, even when shielding herself from a downpour.
Meghan Markle, Mountbatten Music Festival, London, March 7, 2020
One of Meghan Markle’s standout outfits was worn to this official royal event before she stepped away from the monarchy with Prince Harry in 2020. It was a statement red caped evening dress from the designer Safiyaa.
The duchess wore the dress to the Mountbatten Music Festival at the Royal Albert Hall in London, with Prince Harry. The event came days before her final royal engagement, and the garment is counted among her “rainbow” wardrobe, referenced in the Harry & Meghan docuseries.
Meghan Markle, Salute to Freedom Gala, New York City, November 10, 2021
In 2021, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attended the Salute to Freedom Gala in New York City, honoring armed servicemen and women ahead of the annual Veterans Day commemorations.
For the event, Meghan had an elegant Carolina Herrera evening gown specially designed for her in red. It was the same color as the poppy, the flower of remembrance. Footage of the duchess being fitting for the gown was included in her Netflix docuseries.
Kate Middleton, Taking Action on Addiction Visit, London, October 19, 2021
In 2021, Kate Middleton delivered a keynote address launching the “Taking Action on Addiction” awareness campaign, hosted by the Forward Trust in London.
For the occasion, Kate wore an all-red ensemble comprising a Ralph Lauren roll-neck blouse and pleated Christopher Kane skirt.
Kate Middleton, Together at Christmas Service, London, December 8, 2021
Some of Kate Middleton’s biggest solo events of the past two years have been the “Together at Christmas” carol services at Westminster Abbey, London. The princess celebrates community members for work they have undertaken throughout the year.
For the inaugural event, hosted at the abbey on December 8, 2021, the princess wore a striking red coat dress by the designer Catherine Walker & Co. This was not the first time the public had seen Kate in this style. She wore a black version for the funeral of Prince Philip in April 2021.
Meghan Markle, One Young World Summit, Manchester, England, September 5, 2022
Meghan Markle attended the One Young World Summit in September 2022, during a special visit to Europe to undertake charity commitments. It is an event and organization she has patronized since before her marriage to Prince Harry.
For the summit, held in Manchester, northwest England, the duchess wore an all-red outfit from the American activist fashion label Another Tomorrow.
Meghan’s outfit comprised a pair of boot-cut red pants and a collarless bow blouse made out of a sustainable viscose material.
Kate Middleton, ‘Shaping Us’ Launch, Leeds, England, January 30, 2023
For the launch of her early years awareness campaign “Shaping Us” in January, Kate Middleton wore an all-red power suit with an asymmetric cross-front closure and trumpet-leg pants.
The suit was designed by Alexander McQueen, the fashion label credited with creating Kate’s royal wedding dress, 11 years earlier. The label was founded by Lee “Alexander” McQueen in 1992, having studied at Central Saint Martins school of art in London. McQueen was a trained Savile Row tailor, and the label has become famous for its menswear-inspired tailoring.
Queen Camilla, Grenadier Guards Meeting, Aldershot, England, January 31, 2023
Queen Camilla is among the latest members of the royal family to wear a statement red fashion look. She opted for a bold dress to pay her first visit to the battalion of the Grenadier Guards as their colonel in chief.
In Aldershot, southern England, the royal wore a style of her favored smock dresses with intricate pleated detailing and statement seaming.
James Crawford-Smith is Newsweek’s royal reporter based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jrcrawfordsmith and read his stories on Newsweek’s The Royals Facebook page.
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