The last time Meghan Markle walked into St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle for a big family occasion, she was wearing streamlined white – her Givenchy wedding dress by Clare Waight Keller.
Almost a year later – 344 days on, to be exact – Meghan was again in classic white to introduce her tiny son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor to the world.
As has become her defining trademark, the Duchess of Sussex’s fashion choice was literal and deliberate, and has seen fans call her “an absolute icon”.
The sleeveless trench-style dress chosen by Meghan – who gave husband Prince Harry the glory of carrying Archie for the photo call – has been interpreted as having two hidden messages.
Both have been hailed as “powerful” by mainstream and social media. In Britain, The Telegraph went as far as to call the look “brave and modern”.
Why? First up, Meghan, 37, went for a dress that unashamedly showed off her figure just two days after she gave birth on May 6.
Belted above the waist, the dress deliberately highlighted rather than concealed the baby bump she naturally still has.
“I don’t care about royal families but I do care about the history of pregnancy and reproduction – especially our obsession with post-natal bodies,” wrote Twitter user Jacqueline Antonovich, a US historian of medicine, gender and politics.
“So I love that Meghan Markle chose an outfit that shows off her post-baby bump. #NormalizeIt.”
The look was in keeping with reports during Meghan’s pregnancy that she chose to skip the traditional royal hospital photo call because she thinks it sends a fake image of perfection to new mothers.
She added her own power message to the look: Manolo Blahniks with 10-centimetre heels. Lady in charge!
Previous new royal mothers, including Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, and the Duchess of Cambridge, have chosen less form-fitting looks for their photo calls.
Twitter lit up with praise for Meghan’s effort to help show the reality of what a new mother’s stomach looks like after childbirth.
LOVE that Meghan has come to her photo call without trying to hide the ‘after birth baby bump’. Absolute icon. This is how 99% of women look after birth and she is helping normalise it. She looks amazing and is absolutely glowing. Power to her and all new mothers! 💗 #babysussex
— ☾madeleine (@idgimaddy) May 8, 2019
Last thing, LOVE the outfit choice by Meghan! Accentuating her post “bump” is SO needed in this day&age. The majority of women don’t “snap back” &to make a conscious effort to show how the typical female body reacts after labour – I applaud. &it just adds to my love of Meghan 😄
— the cine chic (@thecinechic) May 8, 2019
Say what you will about the royals but the only famous women I've seen proudly and publicly show off their post baby bellies have been Kate and Meghan. Not so long ago I was under the illusion that a pregnancy bump immediately flattened after labour.
— Kayleigh Pritchard (@locketmoon) May 8, 2019
Beyond the normalisation visual, Meghan’s other significant message was her choice of designer.
Her dress is by rising British fashion star Grace Wales Bonner, 28, who launched her label in 2014 and, like Meghan, has a mixed race background.
According to reports, she grew up with her white British mother in London and has a Jamaican father.
Last week, Ms Wales Bonner won a $373,000 boost to her label from the British Fashion Council/Vogue Fund prize and worked with Dior on its resort collection, which was shown in Marrakesh.
The designer is also noted for her approach to gender identity. She started her career making menswear but now shows collections on male and female models.
According to her website, Ms Wales Bonner “embraces a multiplicity of perspectives, proposing a distinct notion of luxury, via a hybrid of European and Afro-Atlantic approaches”.
Sounds bang on brand for Meghan.
As for the photo call itself, what the world didn’t see was a reported last-minute switch of venue.
View this post on Instagram
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are pleased to announce they have named their first born child: Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor This afternoon Their Royal Highnesses introduced Her Majesty The Queen to her eighth great-grandchild at Windsor Castle. The Duke of Edinburgh and The Duchess’ mother were also present for this special occasion. Photo credit: Chris Allerton ©️SussexRoyal
A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on
According to The Mirror, Meghan and Harry wanted the photos done on the steps behind Windsor Castle, where they posed for a wedding photo.
But the weather wasn’t favourable so Plan B, St George’s Hall, was invoked.
The appearance also went for longer than planned: The media was told they had 10 seconds for photos and could ask three questions, but a chatty Harry and Meghan let it go on for just over three minutes.