They may not have met their late mother-in-law, but Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle have been honoring Princess Diana's style since day one. Here's a look back at some of their most iconic fashion tributes.
Kate: Black & White Polka Dots
Attending the Royal Ascot can be a daunting prospect. All the official behavioral rules aside, there's the added pressure to dress modestly yet stylishly. But these royal beauties certainly did so with grace.
Luckily for Kate, she had an endless supply of historical Royal Ascot looks to channel when deciding what to wear. In 2022, she took direct inspiration from Princess Diana's Royal Ascot outfit in 1988. The white and black polka dot dress clearly stands the test of time.
Meghan: Sunshine Yellow
Dressing head-to-toe in a yellow outfit is undoubtedly a bold choice, but Princess Diana was never afraid to stand out. During a visit to the Bay of Islands in New Zealand in 1983, she went full sunshine mode, with a yellow hat and sunflowers to match.
In one of our favorite Meghan looks, the Duchess of Sussex gave an obvious nod to this all-yellow ensemble when she attended the Youth Challenge in July 2018. Her smile was as bright as her outfit in this Brandon Maxwell over-the-knee yellow sheath dress.
Kate: Long, Grey Coat
One thing Kate learned from Princess Diana is that every royal should have an adequate supply of sensible long coats. Like her late mother-in-law, Kate has acquired an impressive outerwear collection. Over the years, she has purchased a jacket in every color and for every occasion.
One coat, in particular, that is a tribute to Diana's style is Kate's long grey wool coat. Just like the original, it boasts a black collar and double-breasted design. The Duchess paired it with long black leather gloves and a small black bag, giving it a personal touch.
Meghan: Red & Purple Combo
When Meghan stepped out in a purple dress and long red coat while visiting Birkenhead in January 2019, there was no doubt over who the look was honoring. While most people wouldn't think to dress purple with red, it evidently runs in the family as Princess Diana was also a fan of the combination.
Princess Diana made waves with her bold look during a visit to Hong Kong in November 1989. Pairing a purple knee-length skirt with a red blazer jacket was an unconventional choice. She even chose to top it off with a purple and red hat! Go big or go home!
Kate: Red Houndstooth
In 1990, Prince William held his mother's hand as they walked into the church for Princess Eugenie's christening. Dressed in a black and red houndstooth suit, red hat, and black leather gloves, there was no questioning why his mother was the style icon of her time.
Twenty-eight years later, William walked alongside his wife during their royal tour of Sweden, as she, too, styled the red houndstooth pattern. This time in the form of a dress, Kate honored Diana's look with the matching leather gloves. Like mother-in-law, like daughter, Kate is also known to set trends.
Meghan: Blue Sparkles
In an apparent nod to her late mother-in-law, Meghan wore a Roland Mouret floor-length navy sequin dress to a Cirque du Soleil performance in January 2019. As the night's photos were published online, many noted its resemblance to the Catherine Walker blue dress worn by Princess Diana in 1990.
Making it her own, Meghan switched out the low-cut neckline for her favorite boat neck, removed the puffy shoulder pads, and opted for a darker blue sequin. Taking the tribute one step further, she accessorized the outfit with a bracelet previously owned by Princess Diana.
Kate: Metallic Glam
James Bond is always known to look his best, dressed in the finest, best-tailored suits. Therefore, when one attends a James Bond movie premiere, it is important to stick to theme. It's Hollywood glitz and glam in its purest form! Thankfully, Diana and Kate got the styling memo.
Princess Diana in 1985 and Kate in 2021, both princesses graced the red carpet at a James Bond movie premiere in breathtaking metallic dresses. With the wide, bold shoulder pads and plunging necklines, they shined brightly for the cameras, showing Hollywood royalty just how it's done.
Meghan: Going Green
Many were green with envy at the sight of this outfit worn by Meghan Markle to Commonwealth Day in 2020. The green dress with a matching one-shoulder cape and fascinator cemented her as a royal fashion icon. While perhaps not immediately apparent, this look took notes from the original royal queen of fashion, Princess Diana.
The green fascinator and netting, alongside the all-green dress, was Meghan's take on Diana's Trooping of the Colour dress and hat from 1982. Seen here on the last of her royal duties, Meghan was honoring her late mother-in-law's fashionable legacy till the very end.
Kate: The Red Baby Debut
While most women would shudder at the thought of a public photoshoot mere hours after giving birth, Kate knew that if her mother-in-law had done it with no complaints, she too would give it her best shot. Those royal hairdressers and make-up artists can work miracles!
When St. Mary's Hospital doors opened, history came full circle yet again. Stepping out in a red dress with a white collar, exactly like Diana had done in 1984 with a newborn Prince Harry, Kate had done it again. Holding Prince Louis in the same position on the exact same steps, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
Meghan: Chic in Plaid
From the minute Meghan and Prince Harry announced their relationship, Meghan's wardrobe was the object of every girl's desire. Two months after getting engaged, she accompanied her fiancé on a royal trip to Wales, making headlines when a shirt she wore sold out minutes after.
The boat-neck peplum blazer in a black, white, and grey plaid pattern had thousands of people desperately searching online to purchase their own. Of course, it did not go unnoticed that the design was similar to the chic plaid suit worn by Diana at Paddington Station in London in 1988.
Kate: The Blue Suit
More than just inspiration, Kate styled this look almost precisely after Princess Diana's. While some of these outfit tributes may be somewhat of a stretch, there's no debating where this look came from. In a game of spot the difference, only the most detail-oriented eyes will be able to identify the slight changes in detail. Right?
The royal blue suit jacket and matching pleated skirt was the perfect outfit for Princess Diana when she visited the Bulguksa Buddhist temple in South Korea in 1992. Respectful and official, Diana nailed royal duty fashion. Taking cues, the Duchess of Cambridge wore it to a violence reduction unit near Edinburgh in 2021.
Meghan: Double Breasted Pink
Diana's light pink suit that she wore to meet the troops at Canterbury in 1995 may not scream 21st-century style, but at its time, it was fashion at its best! Wanting to honor the look, Meghan Markle did what she does best, giving it a modern-day makeover.
Attending the Queen's Youth Leader Awards in 2018, her light-pink suit gave another obvious nod to her mother-in-law's style. Ditching the collar for a wide circle neckline, she added a matching belt and an asymmetrical skirt. She kept the jacket double-breasted, swapping out the buttons for more circular ones.
Kate: All Purple Fit
After seeing how well-received the full royal blue suit was, Kate turned to her late mother-in-law for direction on her next one-tone outfit. This purple suit worn by Princess Diana to St Albans in 1988 served as the inspiration behind the Duchess's 2019 all-purple fit.
Visiting The Royal Opera House in London, Kate dressed in a two-piece purple suit, a similar shade to the one worn by Diana. Opting for simple black buttons instead of gold ones and adding a peplum feature to the bottom of the jacket, she stylishly updated the outfit and converted it into a modern-day classic.
Meghan: The Classic White Dress
The fashion industry may emphasize the importance of owning a black staple dress, but Princess Diana believed every woman should have it in white too! For Diana, a simple white dress could be dressed up or dressed down for any occasion - of course, accessorized accordingly.
In 1995, Princess Diana arrived in Argentina wearing this simple yet stylish white sleeveless dress, paired with a simple pearl necklace and black bag. Meghan packed an almost identical dress for her trip to Australia in 2018. She chose to be accessory-less on this occasion, focusing the attention on the perfectly tailored fit.
Kate: Black & Red
On Christmas Day 1993, Princess Diana attended the service at Sandringham donning a red coat and large black hat. In 2006, nine years after her death, her son's girlfriend, a young Kate Middleton, paid tribute to her legacy by wearing a similar outfit.
Long before she married William and became an official royal, Kate was already turning to Diana for fashion inspiration. For her first official appearance, she attended Prince William's passing-out parade at Sandhurst in 2006. Donning a similar red coat and black hat, this was the first of many tribute outfits to come.
Meghan: High Necked White Gown
When Meghan Markle exited the palace in her second wedding dress, the world gasped at its beauty. As she elegantly stepped into the car to head to the wedding reception alongside her new husband, Prince Harry, many could not get enough of the stylish dress.
What most would not have realized is that the gown took inspiration from a dress worn by her late mother-in-law. In 1992, Princess Diana wore a similar high-necked, sleeveless white gown to a reception at Spencer House in London. Both holding it up at the side while they walked; the resemblance is uncanny!
Kate: Blue & White Dots
We've had black on white; now we're doing white on blue. Princess Diana had the polka-dot style tried and tested for every occasion, allowing it to be Kate's fashion go-to in moments of doubt. Arriving at Wimbledon in 2022, Kate put a modern spin on this 1986 fit.
Here, Diana is pictured standing happily alongside her mother-in-law, HRH the Queen, during a state visit from the West German President, Richard von Weizsacker. Years later, Kate embodied this look in a similarly patterned knee-length gown. With a white bag and white heels, the only thing Kate was missing was the matching hat!
Meghan: Casual in Denim
Although it is a rare occurrence, even members of The Royal Family get to dress down once in a while. For private and casual events, it is deemed acceptable for jeans to be worn. Princess Diana paired light blue jeans with a loose-fitting white shirt and brown belt during a visit to Bosnia in 1997.
After the news broke of Prince Harry's relationship with Suits actress Meghan Markle, the world could not wait to catch a glimpse of the couple. For her first public appearance with her new man, Meghan went to the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, embodying Diana's iconic casual royal style.
Kate: Fuchsia Pink Outerwear
Just because it's cold outside, that doesn't mean that the bright clothing must be put away. Princess Diana paved the way for colorful outerwear with her famous fuchsia pink long jacket. Accessorized perfectly with a black pocket square and clutch to match the black buttons, Diana turned up to Westminster in style.
In 2015, The Duchess of Cambridge arrived at the Stephen Lawrence Centre, Deptford, in an almost identical pink jacket. Also detailed with black buttons and a black clutch, the outfit slipped right out of Diana's lookbook. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?
Meghan: Black Mourning
Diana's collection of looks acted as a guidebook for Meghan when she first joined The Royal Family. Whatever type of occasion or public event was on the calendar, Meghan could channel her late mother-in-law's style to know what was suitable to wear.
Born in Canada, Meghan may not have known what was appropriate to wear to a Remembrance Day ceremony, unfamiliar with the event's details. Luckily she copied Diana's black-belted coat look, similarly pairing it with a round black hat and red poppy pin. She even tied her hair back, bearing a striking resemblance to Lady Diana.
Kate: Low-Cut Red Gown
Like jeans, the royals don't tend to debut their chest area too much. That being said, when it's done, it shall be done with taste and class. When preparing her look for the Government of British Columbia reception in Victoria, 2016, Kate took direction from Diana on how to get the low neckline just right.
Sighting the Princess's dress from her appearance at the Just Like a Woman London premiere in 1992, Kate put her spin on it. With a similar triangular-shaped neckline, she opted for the same shade of red for the dress and accessories. We can't tell which look we love more!
Meghan: More Red
While Kate may have called dibs on one of Diana's most iconic red gowns, there are plenty of other red evening dresses to go around. For the Mountbatten Festival of Music at the Royal Albert Hall in 2020, Meghan took inspiration from a different Princess Diana red dress.
Taking notes from the red Jacques Azagury dress that her late mother-in-law wore to an American Red Cross dinner in 1997, Meghan exited the car in a similar style, donning a Safiyaa red floor-length dress. Like Diana, she accessorized it with a matching red clutch and red stiletto heels. Beautiful!
Kate: Blue Engagement
Announcing their royal engagement was a big moment for Prince William and Kate. So much so, that the pressure was on to get the perfect first official photo. With the Prince being viewed as the nation's son in light of his mother's death, there seemed no better way to honor Diana than to replicate her engagement photo.
Like Diana, Kate selected an entirely blue outfit for the photo she knew would be published around the world. While Diana wore a suit for her big day, Kate chose to wear a dress. As she linked arms with her royal fiancé and left the inherited engagement ring on show, the country shed a tear at the monumental full-circle moment.
Meghan: Scottish Tartan
In preparation for her official visit to Scotland, Meghan took a brief look through Princess Diana's fashion choices for style direction. As many royals do when on official engagements, Diana made an effort to represent the colors and styles of the host country.
With this, Meghan obediently followed suit. Copying the blue and green Scottish tartan pattern of a dress worn by Diana in 1987 to the Bute Highland Games, Meghan converted it into a coat. Of course, she didn't do it herself; Burberry was behind the unforgettable tribute.
Kate: Emerald Green Gown
Embodying the word princess in its truest form, the late Princess of Wales arrived at the Brangwyn Hall gala concert in Swansea in a puffy, green ballgown. As she smiled and talked with the excited visitors, she was the definition of class and style.
Also wanting her big princess moment, Kate chose a ballgown dress in a similar style and color for her visit to King's House in Kingston, Jamaica, in 2022. Just like her late mother-in-law, all eyes were on her as she wowed the crowd with her appearance and charm.
The pinstriped pattern is an acquired taste, but Meghan Markle and Princess Diana both know how to make it work! Visiting a naval base during her 1985 Royal Tour of Italy, Princess Diana wore this Catherine Walker pinstripe dress suit, accessorized with a custom Kangol hat.
Imitating the pattern and button components, Meghan's pinstripe Altuzarra dress was a somewhat simpler take on the look. Walking into the Commonwealth Youth Forum, she styled it with a black blazer over her shoulders and a black and white cross-shoulder bag across her body.
Kate: Pink on Pink
Although Kate is usually happy to don the polka dots, on this occasion, she chose to take a Princess Diana outfit and de-spot it. Seen in 2017, riding a carriage at the Trooping the Colour parade, it's apparent who Kate took her fashion inspiration from for the big day.
In a high-neck, long-sleeved pink dress, paired with a pink circle fascinator, the look highly resembled Diana's outfit at Perth Hockey Stadium in Bentley, Australia, in 1983. Choosing just to remove the polka dots, the tribute is almost a perfect match.
Meghan: Off-The-Shoulder Pink
Members of The Royal Family tend to dress modestly, covering their knees, collarbones, and shoulders for most formal occasions. Princess Diana was known to push the limits with her fashion choices, often breaking the (unofficial) rules. Once she did so, the way was paved for Meghan to follow behind her.
In 1987, Diana wore this off-the-shoulder light pink dress to the Royal Ballet in Germany. Thirty years later, her daughter-in-law wore an incredibly similar dress for her Buckingham Palace balcony debut at Trooping the Colour in 2018. Same neckline, same button design, Diana's fashion legacy lives on.
Kate: The Polka-Collared Dress
Princess Diana was a big fan of the polka dot, and as a result, Kate is too. Marking this the third polka entry on this list, this one involves a matching belt and a white collar. Sitting on the couch for a photoshoot at Kensington Palace in 1985, Diana showed the people how to dress stylishly and comfortably.
In 2020, The Duchess of Cambridge visited Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn as part of the NHS birthday celebrations and wore an almost identical dress. Changing it slightly, Kate's version was in a slightly lighter shade of blue, and she opted for a higher collar than the original.
Meghan: Green Maternity Coat
When it came to dressing a royal baby bump, Meghan knew there was no better person to turn to than her late mother-in-law. While pregnant with both Prince William and Harry, Princess Diana was praised for her effortless and comfortable style throughout.
In 1982, while pregnant with her firstborn, Diana stepped out in this beautiful emerald coat. In 2019, a seven-months-pregnant Meghan attended Commonwealth Day, covering her bump in a similar green wool coat. With the comparable black details, the inspiration behind it was clear. Safe to say, Lady Di's legacy continues to live on...