Prince Harry paid a subtle tribute to his wife, Meghan Markle, on Thursday by appearing at a London court house wearing an item from one of her favorite high-fashion labels, serving a “curve ball” from his usual laid back style, a leading fashion expert has told Newsweek.

Harry made a surprise appearance in London on Monday when he attended the first day of hearings at the Royal Courts of Justice connected with his lawsuit against Daily Mail publishers Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) over historic cases of unlawful information gathering such as bugging, phone-hacking, wiretapping and blagging.

The prince’s unannounced trip to Britain was made despite his ongoing legal battle over the removal of his state funded bodyguards and he appeared to make the journey without Meghan, with the couple basing themselves out of their California home since 2020.

Prince Harry photographed arriving at the Royal Courts of Justice on March 30, 2023. And (inset) close up detail of the prince’s Christian Dior shirt with the house’s bee emblem.
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Meghan was not far from Harry’s thoughts though, evident in his choice to wear an elegant crisp white shirt to the final day of the hearings on Thursday, from the Paris fashion house of Christian Dior.

The shirt, which retails for £800 ($988), is identifiable from the embroidered imperial bee emblem utilized in a number of the fashion house’s designs.

Dior has become closely associated with Meghan since her marriage in 2018. It is unusual for members of the British royal family to patronize French fashion houses—particularly male members as England is reputationally considered the heartland of menswear—but Meghan broke with tradition by wearing a Givenchy wedding dress made in Paris and a number of French designs to public events.

Meghan wore a Dior creation to her last major royal celebration, that of the thanksgiving service for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in June 2022. The duchess wore a sharply tailored white coat dress with matching Dior accessories.

Celebrity stylist and royal fashion expert Miranda Holder told Newsweek that the brand has been used by Meghan to build herself a “fashion armor” to deal with high pressure events, something Harry may have drawn inspiration from on Thursday.

“Meghan has opted for Dior on several royal occasions, and I personally feel that she turned to such an elite fashion house in an effort to subconsciously clad herself in ‘fashion armor,’ attempting to shield herself from the critical gaze of the media and the public,” Holder said, though adding that these may not have always endeared her to the scrutinizing public.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Wearing Dior
Prince Harry (L) wearing a Christian Dior shirt to a London court hearing, March 30, 2023. And Meghan Markle wearing (R) a Christian Dior ensemble to the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II, June 3, 2022.
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images/DANIEL LEAL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“Despite Meghan’s efforts to get it right, her choice of designer was a little too ostentatious for the British royal family, being more akin to Elizabeth Taylor than Queen Elizabeth,” Holder noted.

“It just felt a little bit ‘try hard,’ but was nonetheless an easy mistake to make for someone that clearly didn’t understand the complicated British sensibilities. The outfits were no doubt stunning, but if she had hoped they would help her blend in, they were a wrong decision.”

This appears not to have weighed on Harry’s sartorial conscience, however.

“Wearing Dior is a new fashion direction for Prince Harry who usually prefers a more casual style, particularly now he has moved to California and no longer has to dress up to perform royal duties,” Holder said.

“We are used to seeing him informal and laid-back, in T-shirts and checked shirts with sleeves nonchalantly rolled up, a preppy blazer thrown on if he needs to take things up a notch.

“There are of course some occasions when smarter clothing is required, and a suit was a natural choice for Harry’s court appearance, but opting for super brand Dior was a sartorial curveball for Harry. The designer could be perceived by many as too flash for his normally understated personal style.”

This is not the first time that the royal has worn a Dior ensemble. The fashion house, headed today by creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri, confirmed in July 2022 that the prince wore a navy Dior suit to deliver a speech on Nelson Mandela International Day at the United Nations in New York.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Wearing Dior
Prince Harry (L) photographed wearing a Christian Dior suit at the U.N. in New York, July 18, 2022. And Harry with Meghan Markle (R) who wore a Christian Dior custom gown to a reception during a royal tour of Morocco, February 24, 2019.
David Dee Delgado/Getty Images/Arthur Edwards – Pool/Getty Images

This led to speculation that Harry and Meghan could be working in some form of partnership with the brand. On this, Holder commented: “Designer sponsorship deals with celebrities are commonplace, and it is highly likely that the Sussexes have an arrangement with Dior; it would be a highly convenient passive income for Harry and Meghan who make ideal ambassadors for the brand.”

Harry choosing to wear the brand so closely associated with his wife to court on Thursday is not the first time he has been linked to Meghan through clothing, nor are the Sussexes the first royal couple to be so.

“Kate and William frequently coordinate their fashion choices so it is not surprising that other Royals do too,” Holder said.

“We know that Harry and Meghan are deeply in love, the trials they have suffered doubtlessly bringing them closer together, so it stands to reason that they should wish to connect on every level that is available to them, their clothing included. It’s simply one step away from wearing a sentimental piece of jewelery or carrying a special photograph on one’s person.”

Before Meghan became closely associated with Dior, Harry’s mother Princess Diana began patronizing the fashion house shortly before her untimely death at the age of 36 in 1997.

The princess wore a Dior ensemble, designed by John Galliano, to the Met Gala in 1996 and she favored a style of handbag from the brand that they renamed in her honor the “Lady Dior” after her pre-marriage title: Lady Diana Spencer.

Newsweek approached representatives of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle via email for comment.

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.

Do you have a question about King Charles III, William and Kate, Meghan and Harry, or their family that you would like our experienced royal correspondents to answer? Email [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you.

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