They were her signature look – but ever since her wedding, they’ve disappeared from view.
Whenever Meghan Markle is photographed, her outfit instantly becomes news. She causes brands’ websites to crash, waiting lists to form, factories to increase their production and reselling prices on Ebay to spike.
It’s no surprise that the Duchess of Sussex has many devoted fans waiting to see what she wears next. But royal watchers have recently spotted one surprising trend based on what she’s not wearing – rather than what she is.
Prior to becoming a royal, Meghan was regularly seen carrying crossbody style bags, including a Strathberry Midi-Tote and a bag by Charlotte Elizabeth. Post-wedding, however, this hands-free style is nowhere to be seen.
Instead, at every official engagement since her wedding, she has been snapped carrying a variety of tiny clutch bags.
This might be because a clutch looks more formal than a casual crossbody – but according a royal expert, there could be more to the change.
“I suspect that when Meghan was an actress and not a member of royalty, she kept money, make-up, and the kitchen sink in her cross-body bags – as we all do,” Penny Junor told Harper’s Bazaar UK.
“Now that she is a duchess, she doesn’t need anything more useful than lipstick, and possibly her phone.”
However, another etiquette expert believes that there may be an even deeper reason behind Meghan’s sudden change of bag style.
Speaking to Good Housekeeping last year, Myka Meier, the founder of Beaumont Etiquette, explained that when the Queen or Kate Middleton are at events, they often hold bags in front of them with both hands as a way of avoiding awkward hand shakes.
Prior to her wedding, Markle was often photographed greeting crowds and shaking hands with members of the public. There’s been a definite decrease in this type of meet-and-greet since she started opting for clutch bags – so there may be some strategic thinking behind her accessories.
But according to etiquette expert William Hanson, using a clutch bag to deflect unwanted handshakes isn’t actually necessary for royal women.
“The Duchess of Cambridge may well prefer not to shake hands with certain people – but there are other ways to achieve this, as used by the Queen and other members of the royal family, than opting for a clutch over a bag with a strap,” he told MailOnline.
“It is protocol that you do not extend your hand to any member of the royal family (blood royal or those who have married in to the family) unless their hand extends first.”
Our guess, however, is that the average person on the street probably doesn’t know that they’re not supposed to try and shake Meghan’s hand. As a result, she might have started to grip clutch bags as a way of avoiding any possible awkward encounters.
Then again, maybe she just doesn’t need to carry around a water bottle, a book and a spare pair of flat shoes like the rest of us.