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Can you guess why the world is freaking out about Meghan Markle this time?

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Kayleigh Dray
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Meghan Markle wore a trouser suit to an event – and morons everywhere lost their s**t…

It was a big night for Meghan Markle, who took to the podium for her first-ever royal speech during the Endeavour Fund Awards (1 Feb), which celebrates the achievements of injured and sick servicemen and women who have taken part in sporting and adventure challenges over the last year.

“I’m truly privileged to be here,” she said, presenting the Celebrating Excellence Award to Daniel Claricoates, a Royal Marine veteran who has battled post-traumatic stress and “now works with children, assisting them to foster their own spirit of adventure through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards Team.”

Markle continued: “Daniel acquired complex post-traumatic stress after multiple tours in Afghanistan with the Royal Marines, during which he was awarded the Military Cross.

“Despite his teammates stating that Daniel’s battle with post-traumatic stress was probably the toughest they have ever seen, Daniel joined ‘65 Degrees North’ in climbing to the summits of the highest mountains in both Africa and Antarctica. Daniel now works with children, assisting them to foster their own spirit of adventure through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards Team.”

Check it out:

It was an unusual move for Markle to make a speech of her own at the event, especially as she’s not even technically a royal yet (as noted by the Daily Mail’s royal correspondent Rebecca English). 

However, it’s become incredibly apparent that Markle is fully intent on holding on to her own identity and carving out her own niche in the royal family: she will be making her voice heard, whenever and wherever she can.

Too bad, then, that all the majority of the world’s press decided to reduce her down to her wardrobe choices.

Meghan Markle arrives at the 2018 Endeavour Awards with Prince Harry

That’s right: Markle attended the awards show in a Alexander McQueen tuxedo (aka the glam Hollywood equivalent of every woman’s trusted “jeans and a nice top” combo). 

Cue a plethora of screaming headlines, all of which punned the same tired old sexist trope: “Guess who wears the trousers in Prince Harry’s relationship?”

The Daily Mail even went one step further, attempting to use Markle’s outfit to draw yet another comparison between her and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton (whom you’d presume is her long-term nemesis, judging by all the content that’s been churned out about their so-called ‘feud’).

“[Markle] chose an understated tuxedo for her first black tie event because she didn’t want to ‘steal thunder’ from Kate as she wowed in Norway,” the publication informed readers, before going on to insist that Markle hasn’t had her “princess moment” yet because she’s so worried about “upstaging her soon to be sister-in-law”.

Naturally, the below-the-line comments on the DM’s article pretty much confirmed what we already expected: that some narrow-minded people still consider a woman in trousers to be controversial, even in 2018.

“She does wear the pants in this union and is not very subtle about it,” wrote one.

Another added: “She wants everyone to know that she rules Prince Harry.”

“Why didn’t she just wear a nice dress? Not princess material at all.”

“[Markle] chose an understated tuxedo for her first black tie event because she didn’t want to ‘steal thunder’ from Kate as she wowed in Norway.” 

Of course, Markle isn’t the first woman to be targeted by trouser-hating witch hunters.

Did you know that, until 1993, a rule in Washington’s upper chamber barred women from wearing trousers on the floor? It wasn’t until a small cadre of Democrats, including Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, started wearing trousers in protest, female Senate staff joined them, and the prohibition was abolished.

And did you know that, in 2011, the Mail Online was still advising women to “wear a skirt, not a trouser suit, for a better first impression and more success in the workplace”?

And did you also know that female flight attendants at British Airways were forced to spend two years fighting for the right to wear trousers on the job? In fact, they only won their case in 2016 – as in, yes, less than two years ago.

The airline crew’s union, Unite, celebrated the triumph, saying: “Not only is the choice to wear trousers a victory for equality it is also a victory for common sense.”

Hillary Clinton, similarly, made history with her pantsuits: not only was she the first, and so far the only, first lady to pose for a presidential portrait in trousers, but she continued blazing her trouser-wearing trail throughout the 2016 presidential election… much to the horror of people everywhere.

Discussing the politician’s work wardrobe, Project Runway’s Tim Gunn famously said: “Why must she dress that way? I think she’s confused about her gender!”

Even the usually enlightened Jimmy Fallon cracked a tone-deaf joke about Chelsea Clinton’s then-future child’s wardrobe, saying: “If it’s a girl, it will get some of Chelsea’s old hand-me-downs, and if it’s a boy, it will get some of Hillary’s.”

It begs the question: why are we all still so obsessed by the concept of women in slacks? Is society’s view of women and their role in the world still so backward that a pair of trousers is a radical statement?

Apparently, it is. Hopefully, though, Markle’s rebellion against the extremely astringent old-fashioned etiquette rules of the royal family will help to remind the world that women can wear whatever they want, however they want.

As Clinton said herself: “[I wear trousers because they] make me feel professional and ready to go… [and] you can’t please everybody, so you may as well wear what works for you.”

Amen.

Images: Rex Features

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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