While all eyes were on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the Invictus Games last week, their estranged sister-in-law the Princess of Wales fought back by showing off a glamorous new look – all the while keeping a dignified silence about their well-publicised visit to Germany.
“Kate’s not stupid. She wants any engagements that she’s involved in to get their rightful attention and coverage, and making sure she looks her best and behaves her best is part of that,” royal expert Duncan Larcombe tells new.
At an official event last week, Kate, 41, maintained a business as usual approach while ensuring she got her share of the attention by debuting a 70s-style bouncy blow-dry with sweeping short layers cut in to frame her face.
“She’s fighting back in the only way she can,” says Duncan. “The Games are a big deal for Harry. It’s one of the biggest things he does, and Kate is just going to have to grin and bear the fact it’s the Harry and Meghan show while it’s on.
“Her way of dealing with anything they are up to is just to keep a dignified silence and carry on. It’s worked very well for her and William so far. Slow and steady wins the race.”
Meghan, 42, skipped the opening of the Games in Düsseldorf on 9 September, instead making headlines by being photographed at an In-N-Out burger drive-thru in California. When she finally landed in Germany, she was whisked on to the stage to make a speech, with 39-year-old Prince Harry by her side.
Dressed in a midi-length black shirt dress and black stiletto heels, she apologised to the 1,600 crowd for being “a little late to the party”, explaining that school drop-offs kept her away.
Meghan received a massive ovation as she watched a wheelchair-basketball game. Dressed casually in shorts and classic Chanel ballet flats, she added an oversized J Crew blazer – which caused the company’s website to crash when fans rushed to copy the look.
Meanwhile, Kate surprised prisoners when she arrived at HMP High Down in Surrey ahead of next month’s Addiction Awareness Week in her role as patron of The Forward Trust charity. She looked striking in a navy blue Alexander McQueen power suit with oversized shoulder pads, and sported her new cut and blow-dry.
Royal watchers have been looking for signs that relations between the Sussexes and the Wales have softened after years of reported feuding.
It’s more than two years since Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, during which the prince said he and his brother Prince William, 41, were “on different paths”.
But the damage didn’t stop there, with Meghan going on to discuss the incident of Princess Charlotte’s bridesmaid dress.
Addressing reports that days before her wedding the duchess had made Kate cry after she complained about the fit of her daughter’s frock, Meghan told Oprah “the reverse happened” and said it had been a turning point in their relationship.
Then came the duke’s autobiography, Spare, which spilled the beans on more private moments, including a physical fight between the royal brothers and an accusation that Kate and William had encouraged Harry to wear his infamous Nazi officer fancy-dress costume in 2005.
According to Duncan, the damage done by the duke and duchess washing their dirty linen in public has been especially hurtful to Kate and relations won’t be fixed overnight.
“Some of what Harry and Meghan have said, particularly about Kate, was so personal, and it’s going to take years to heal the hurt because of the damage that’s been done,” he says.
“It’s going to take more than an apology to fix the relationships. I think it could be damaged for the foreseeable future.
“The comments will still get to Kate, and the Games is just another reminder of some of the viciousness that her and William have just had to swallow because they’re not in a position where they can make any reply.”
Given their rank, Kate and William will never be able to write their own tell-all book or make a Netflix documentary à la Meghan and Harry.
“The royals don’t reply and get sucked into tit-for-tat, so the Games will only serve as a reminder for Kate of all those awful things that she was accused of,” Duncan adds.
“I think it’s quite noticeable that there are no messages of support so far from William or Kate. That kind of tells you all you need to know in terms of their approval."
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