Dressing like a duchess doesn’t come cheap.
But, according to royal expert Victoria Arbiter, Markle pays nothing — the Royal Family foots the bill. More specifically, the cost falls to Markle’s father-in-law, Prince Charles.
The official household budget, part of which is used to pay for clothing, comes from the Duchy of Cornwall estate, said Arbiter. The estate is a private fund from which “Prince Charles takes an official household budget that is [for] the running of the offices of the Cambridges, Sussexes, and indeed, his and Camila’s office.”
According to the Royal Family, Edward III created the estate in 1337 with the goal of securing income for his son and heir, as well as future heirs to the throne. The estate is the responsibility of Prince Charles, and one day, the Duchy of Cornwall will pass to William, said Arbiter.
“[Markle] needs an official work wardrobe, and dressing for the part comes with the job,” Arbiter told Global News. “That’s a household expenditure. Clothes that she wears in her private time, she’ll be paying for herself.”
If Prince Charles believes there has been overspending, he’ll ask the Sussexes to make some cuts. However, the price tag on Markle’s maternity wear is nothing compared to the Royal Family of years past.
“[Lady] Diana wore pretty much nothing but designer wardrobe for official functions,” said Arbiter. “We do see Kate [Middleton] and Meghan incorporate high street brands in their outfits. Kate loves Zara; Meghan has worn Marks & Spencer. They’ve both worn other high street brands.”
Tailoring has become quite common too, according to Arbiter.
“[Clothes] that she was wearing early on, it’s possible she was just buying a slightly larger size to accommodate her growing tummy, in which case many of those clothes will be tailored,” said Arbiter. “They won’t be cast off, never to be worn again.”
Even the outfits Markle has purchased to wear as she reaches full term will likely be re-worn eventually.
“I’m sure that she and Harry would like to have more than one baby,” said Arbiter. “So it’s not like she’s spent all of this money and then boom, it’s done.”
Arbiter wants to make one thing absolutely clear: Royals cannot accept clothing as gifts from designers, “because then they can be billed as walking billboards.”
While a designer may send over several styles for the family to try, anything that’s worn is paid for and anything not wanted is sent back.
“Let’s say they have a tour coming up — I’m speaking speculatively here — but Meghan would ask a designer to send over a few selections. Whatever she chooses and whatever she wears, she will pay for. Everything else gets sent back. She would never keep anything that’s just been given as a gift. That would be inappropriate in [her] position,” said Arbiter.
“Now, it’s possible designers are giving them a ‘family and friends’ rate, because of course, a designer wants to see them in their outfit,” Arbiter said.
“We know Kate is a regular Alexander McQueen wearer, Meghan loves her Givenchy, so it’s possible that they’re getting a slightly more friendly rate, but they do have to pay for those items.”
Markle has had a spectacular impact on the fashion world since marrying Prince Harry last May.
Nearly every time the Duchess steps out, the clothes and accessories she wears are purchased by royal fans around the world. The phenomenon is known as “The Meghan Effect.”
For example, when she and Harry toured New Zealand in October, Markle ditched her heels for a pair of sustainable sneakers. Online searches for the V-10 shoes, which cost $220, went up by 300 per cent overnight, according to the report by Love the Sales.
In January, Markle wore a $35 H&M dress. It sold out less than 24 hours later, and multiple eBay listings were soon selling the frock for as much as six times the retail price.
Markle announced her pregnancy in October last year, several months after her wedding to Prince Harry in May. She is reportedly due to give birth at the beginning of April.