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12 Royal Style Secrets You Didn’t Know Until Now

Updated: Aug. 03, 2021

When fashion designer, Afa Ah Loo, was invited by Queen Elizabeth II to present his tropics-inspired fashion, he was beyond thrilled, but it wasn't until he was there that he realized the unique window he was being given into the style secrets of the royal family.

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Kate Middleton’s “secret sauce”

Upon meeting Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, it immediately became apparent to fashion designer Afa Ah Loo why Kate is revered for her style. The key, Afa believes, is that she draws inspiration from popular royals from the past, including perhaps most notably, her late mother-in-law, Diana, Princess of Wales. But Kate then goes the extra step of pulling the look together in an unassailably classy, modern, and rule-respecting manner. Check out these 19 times when Kate Middleton and Diana wore almost exactly the same outfit.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex visit to Birkenhead, UK - 14 Jan 2019

Meghan Markle owns her “outsider” status

It’s no secret that the Duchess of Sussex rocks bold looks, including bright shades like red, purple, and pure white, as well as body-conscious, baby-bump-grazing silhouettes, and Afa believes this is quite intentional. “Meghan is an outsider, but she’s not ashamed of who she is,” Afa notes. It seems she wants to be the one starting that conversation—by drawing attention to it with her bold looks, which she rocks in only in the most classy and elegant of ways.”

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Markle subtly boosts the profile of American designers

While it’s most common for members of the royal family to be seen in clothing by British designers, Meghan Markle is not afraid to be seen wearing conspicuously American designers such as Ralph Lauren. Here she’s seen wearing Ralph Lauren pumps with her white baby-bump accentuating dress and sporting an easily recognizable blue-and-white-striped blouse by Ralph Lauren at Wimbledon.

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Beatrice’s many roles

Princess Beatrice is the eldest child of Prince Andrew, but she’s also “Bea York,” businesswoman, marathon runner, and sometimes actress. What Bea wears on any given day, Afa explains, reveals who she’s choosing to be. Find out 15 fascinating facts you never knew about Princess Beatrice.

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Obama Prince Harry, Washington, USA
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Prince Harry: facial hair, don’t care

Prince Harry, once known for his ginger hair, may be even more well-known now for rocking a very handsome, finely groomed beard, Afa points out. As adorable as the look may be to many, it’s not one that his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, is particularly fond of. It’s also not quite standard when wearing military garb. But guess what? Even though she was not a fan, Harry had the Queen’s permission for both the beard and the military garb that he wore together on his wedding day. Here are 17 other details you might have missed about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding.

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Royal Wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank in Windsor, United Kingdom - 12 Oct 2018

Princess Eugenie has solid-hair-ity

Afa reminds us that although Princess Eugenie rocked red hair for her wedding to Jack Brooksbank in October 2018, that was very much a choice. Eugenie, who was ginger as a child, is now a natural brunette. She went red for the wedding in a show of allegiance to her mom, Sarah, Duchess of York, he says. Here are 14 things you might not know about Princess Eugenie.

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Duke And Duchess Of York - Engagement Day - 1986 The Engagement Was Sealed With A Kiss For The Cameras... And Of Course A Ring. Andrew Gave Sarah A Large Oval-shaped Ruby Surrounded By A Cluster Of Ten Diamonds And Set In A Band Of 18-carat-yellow An
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The Duchess of York owns her uniqueness

When Prince Andrew proposed to now ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, he did so with a very special piece of jewelry: a ruby ring that he had designed himself to celebrate Sarah’s uniquely flame-colored hair. If Duchess Sarah hadn’t already learned to embrace her uniqueness (which we suspect she had), this loving affirmation had to have driven the message home. Find out 18 things you probably don’t know about Sarah Ferguson.

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Britain Princess Eugenie Engaged, London, United Kingdom - 22 Jan 2018
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Princess Eugenie pays tribute to her heritage

When it came time to pick an engagement ring for Princess Eugenie, Jack Brooksbank chose one that was notably similar to the one Eugenie’s dad, Prince Andrew, proposed to Sarah Ferguson with (although Eugenie’s center stone is not a ruby, but a padparadscha sapphire). Brooksbank reportedly had Eugenie’s “sign off” on the stone. Going with either the identical thing or a variation on something the prior generation did is fundamental to royal style, Afa tells Reader’s Digest. Just take a look at these many beautiful pieces that Kate and Meghan inherited from Diana, Princess of Wales.

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Queen Elizabeth II has a signature style

As trends and fashion fluctuate wildly over the decades, Queen Elizabeth is a master at maintaining her own style and still “being seen,” says Afa. Primarily, she does it with color, notes Afa. Like here, in head-to-toe lime green, fire-engine red, and creamsicle-orange. Find out another touching reason why Queen Elizabeth favors neon hues.

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Queen Elizabeth II attends London Fashion Week, UK - 20 Feb 2018
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She does compromise so as not to make others feel out of place

Queen Elizabeth II seems to have a knack for making others feel welcome, Afa notes, in part from his own experience with the royal family. She does this in the most subtle and charming of ways, as Afa points out, citing this photo of the Queen with the unofficial queen of style, Anna Wintour, taken during 2018’s fashion week. Notice how Elizabeth is wearing almost precisely the same red lipstick as Miss Wintour? Lipstick aside, the Queen will only wear this nail polish.

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Bethany Williams show, Front Row, Fall Winter 2019, London Fashion Week, UK - 19 Feb 2019
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Camilla learned to let go of competition

“I don’t think Camilla will ever add up to Princess Diana in terms of pure style, but she seems to understand this and doesn’t seem to try to prove it untrue,” Afa notes, citing this photo of the Duchess of Cornwall dressed simply but elegantly at London’s Fashion Week 2019. The Duchess’s willingness to own her own look (which might be described as “highly refined and elegant librarian”) has the effect of elevating her to fashion icon.

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British royals visiting Germany, official departure from Germany at Airbus, Hamburg, Germany - 21 Jul 2017
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The “matchy-matchy” royal family

Afa is quite taken with the way the Duchess of Cambridge often coordinates the colors her children are wearing. There’s a cuteness and an ordinariness to it that contrasts beautifully with the mystery inherent in the monarchy, he says. It’s as if she understands precisely what the public wants to see—and it works! Next, read on to learn 10 style rules everyone in the royal family must follow.