They are not amused.
While fashionistas and royal watchers from around the world were mostly dazzled by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement photos, a brewing backlash in Britain indicates the American actress may have miscalculated in just how much Hollywood glamour British subjects want to see from the royal family.
British columnist Sarah Vine, wife of politician Michael Gove, penned a column for The Daily Mail yesterday calling the couple’s highly stylized photographs “an almost deliberate, some might say petulant, flouting of convention.” The main offense of the photos: Meghan’s “over-the-top ballgown with the Marie Antoinette-style price tag of £56,000.”
Vine goes on to criticize Meghan’s decision to wear the pricey red carpet gown noting royal favorites LK Bennett and Catherine Walker were eschewed in favor of Ralph & Russo, “a label deliberately created to help the very rich dispose of their cash by dreaming up ever more extravagant ways of stitching together a few pieces of fabric.”
The columnist notes there is one member of the royal family who would have approved—Princess Diana. “A devotee of sweeping romantic sagas and a woman with more than a taste for melodrama (think of that famous pose by the Taj Mahal)—[Diana] would have loved it.” But Vine says that most people in the UK don’t think Meghan’s dress sends the right message. “The British public tends to like a little more decorum and dignity from their royals.”
Vine opines Harry and Meghan’s quest to modernize the monarchy is more befitting a Hollywood celebrity couple than British royals and too much change risks turning “The Firm” into an epic soap opera to rival Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
That may be overstating it a bit, but there is no doubt there are plenty of Brits who share Vine’s view. One commenter noted, “Nobody minds a Hollywood ‘A’ lister behaving hugely extravagantly, or advertising clothes, members of the Royal Family must balance looking the part with avoidance of being too commercial or opulent.” Another asked, “At a time of severe austerity and pay freezes, the bride-to-be flaunts herself in a £56,000 dress. What on earth were they thinking?”
All of this proves that while Prince Harry is head over heels in love with Meghan, some Brits are wary of the American actress who they feel doesn’t understand their longstanding reverence of royal family tradition and protocol. Or it is simply an anti-American sentiment that will be an on-going factor in the way Meghan is covered in the British press?
And, of course, if Meghan picked a dress like this for her engagement portrait what could she possibly do to top it for the wedding?
As they used to say on the soaps, stay tuned. And to learn the background about this couture clash, check out What Meghan Markle’s Engagement Dress Says About Her.
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana A Novel.
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