Kate, Duchess of Cambridge is famous for her shiny locks, turning out three perfect children and being handy with a garden trowel — but is she also a Machiavellian mastermind?
That's the question being tossed around online after Kate wore a pair of earrings that had belonged to Diana to wee Archie's MI6-esque Top Secret christening.
While superficially Kate's choice of shiny, expensive baubles for the event might seem trivial, like everything Windsor-related her preference is being intensely scrutinised — and much of the internet has found her wanting.
The earrings in question are significant because Diana herself had worn them to Prince Harry's baptism in 1984. According to a vast number of Twitter commenters (many of whom seem to be rage typing with only their thumbs) the feeling is that the polite thing would have been for Kate to offer them to Meghan to wear.
Symbolism is rampant within the royal family's ranks, especially when it comes to conveying subtle messages. The Queen broadcasts her sentiments using her vast collection of broaches (for example when she wore a broach that had been a gift from her BFFs the Obamas when she met Donald Trump in 2017).
The offending earrings Kate wore are the Collingwood pearl drops, given to then-Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 in the lead up to her wedding. They had been gifted to her by the eponymous famed London jewellers who had been the Spencer family jewellers since she was a child. (Most people have a family car or dog, not a favourite spot to buy emeralds.)
Originally the jewellery house had wanted to give her a stinking great diamond necklace and earrings, but it was deemed too pricey a pressie. So, as a compromise, they gave her the earrings instead.
The earrings would prove to be some of the Princess' most beloved trinkets. She wore them on multiple occasions, including as part of her going-away look after her wedding, and then during both day and night events in the UK and in Australia, Canada and Hong Kong.
For black tie events, she often paired them with the Queen Mary Lover's Knot tiara, news.com.au reports.
Come the '90s, she wore them less frequently, however she did pick them for one of the most iconic looks of her royal career — when she wore the Revenge Dress in June, 1994.
Like much of Diana's jewellery, it disappeared from public view after her death. Kate first publicly donned them in 2017 during the Spanish State Banquet (following in her mother-in-law's footsteps and also wearing the Lover's Knot tiara). Since then, they have proven to be a favourite of the Duchess.
And why wouldn't they be? They are a stunning pair of super-duper expensive statement earrings that would make any look effortlessly regal. (I'd like to think she pops them on to do the school run for an extra kick of glamour and to make the other mums even more green with envy.)
However the question is, should Kate have offered to lend them to Meghan for Archie's christening?
Leaving aside the hygiene issues (it would be pretty unusual for family to share pierced earrings) this would have been a highly unusual gesture on Kate's behalf given the timing.
For the last year or so, reports have persisted that the Cambridges and Sussexes are mired in acrimony. If Kate had messaged Megs with the offer to borrow her earrings, it could have been read as being incredibly patronising.
And if Meghan had accepted the overture, it would have been wildly confusing for her to wear something so now closely identified with the Duchess of Cambridge. (Though that would have gone some way to quashing any of the pesky feud rumours.)
The other question is whether Kate herself should have worn them. Was she subtly trolling Meghan by wearing something so symbolically tied to her husband Prince Harry? Or was she making a touching tribute to a much-missed mother?
Personally, I think attributing such perfidious motives to Kate doesn't quite fit. She regularly wears pieces of jewellery that come from the collections of Diana and even the Queen, especially on important family occasions.
I don't interpret her wearing the Collingwood earrings as scheming, rather as a touching means of including Diana on a day she surely would have loved.
And Meghan? She's not exactly wanting for lavish jewels. She wore the $24,000 Cartier earrings Prince Charles gave her before her wedding last year. So, she has worn the same classic pieces for the two most important days of her life.
And right there, boom. Meghan has imbued these earrings with historic meaning and controlled the narrative. Now that's a power move.