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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s New York City trip involved multiple engagements and, of course, a number of outfit changes. Similar to royal tours of the past, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex descended upon New York with fanfare and photographers in tow. However, this time around Meghan didn’t have to follow the royal family’s fashion rules. As a result, the 40-year-old seized the opportunity to send a message to Queen Elizabeth II and the rest of the British royal family. She’s no longer a senior working royal and, as such, doesn’t have to follow the rules.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle spent the weekend in New York City

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry smile as they pose for photographs at One World Observatory in September 2021
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry | Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Harry and Meghan were in New York City, New York, from Sept. 23 – 25, 2021. Much like the royal tours of years past, the couple had a busy schedule filled with various appearances and visits. The main reason for the tour? An appearance at a star-studded event in Central Park to promote coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine equity around the world. 

For the duration of their visit, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stayed at The Carlyle. Not only a popular hotel with celebrities, Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana, liked to stay there whenever she visited the city.

The former ‘Suits’ star wore pantsuits to many engagements

Prince Harry wears a button-down shirt and khaki pants as he walks next to Meghan Markle in a red pantsuit
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle | Robert Kamau/GC Images

Meghan literally wore the pants in New York City. The mother of two — Meghan gave birth to daughter Lilibet “Lili” Diana Mountbatten-Windsor in June 2021 — stepped out for all but one of her appearances wearing pants. And, in doing so, she sent the royal family and the queen a message.

At her first engagement with Harry on Sept. 23, 2021, Meghan paired dark-colored trousers with a coordinating turtleneck and coat for a monochrome look. She and Harry posed for photos with New York City mayor Bill De Blasio and New York governor Kathy Hochul at One World Observatory. After which Meghan and Harry headed outside to visit a 9/11 memorial. 

Later Meghan wore tan head-to-toe for a meeting at the United Nations. And once again she wore pants. At a different engagement that included reading her book, The Bench, to children and stopping by a restaurant, the Duchess of Sussex chose to wear a pantsuit. 

Meghan Markle’s New York City wardrobe made it clear to Queen Elizabeth II she doesn’t have to follow royal family fashion rules

Queen Elizabeth, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry pose at a royal event.
Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

So what message did this send the queen and the royal family? That she’s no longer a senior working royal and she doesn’t have to follow protocol. The queen hardly ever wears pants because royal tradition says women should wear dresses and skirts to official appearances. That’s why Meghan often wore dresses and skirts in her working royal days. But now that she’s no longer carrying out duties on behalf of the queen she can wear pants to public appearances. 

However, that isn’t to say she never wore pants as a senior royal. The Duchess of Sussex occasionally wore trousers but almost always opted for a skirt or a dress.

Meghan Markle also made nods to Princess Diana

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry arrive at Global Citizen Live wearing face masks and holding hands
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry | Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Global Citizen

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The Duchess of Sussex didn’t send a message to the royal family with her outfits. She also made nods to her late mother-in-law through her accessories. 

Meghan wore Diana’s Cartier watch multiple times throughout the weekend, according to Express. She also showed up to her and Harry’s appearance at Global Citizen Live carrying a Lady D-Lite handbag from Christian Dior. The brand renamed it in the ‘90s to honor Diana after she was seen carrying the bag.