Times Kate Middleton Has Channeled Princess Diana's Iconic Style

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When Diana Spencer — former Princess of Wales — died in a 1997 car accident, it truly did appear as though the world stood still. While her relationship with the royal family went through every trial and tribulation one could consider, Diana was a beloved member of the monarchy. Her status as the "people's princess" clearly displayed the widespread adoration she experienced daily. Diana was only 19 years old when she came onto the royal scene, getting engaged to then-32-year-old Charles, Prince of Wales. Quickly dubbed "Shy Di," Diana's childlike eyes and gentle persona did most of the talking in her early days, but as time wore on and infidelity ravaged her marriage, the Princess of Wales developed a rather thick skin.

Known for her sleek looks, 1980s-trendy silhouettes, and the revenge dress, Diana's style spoke volumes, and her fashion decisions often reflected trends and set them in motion. To this day, her iconic streetwear, her day-to-day choices, and her iconic ball gowns reign supreme, proving that style has no time limit. And if anyone knows just how powerful Diana's fashion influence is, it's Catherine, Princess of Wales. Diana's daughter-in-law — the first person to use the Princess of Wales title since Diana's death — Catherine is an illustrious member of the royal family who always looks incredible. And of all her looks — of which there are some stand-out ones — Catherine has paid homage to Diana, channeling her looks as though they were her own.

Kate's first appearance as the Princess of Wales honored Diana

When Queen Elizabeth II sadly died at 96, Charles, then-Prince of Wales, immediately became king. As such, many royal titles shifted to the next in line to the throne, but hardly any alterations got as much attention as the designation of the new Prince and Princess of Wales. As aforementioned, no one has used the title of Princess of Wales publicly since Diana Spencer. In her first outing as the newly-dubbed princess, Catherine paid homage to her late mother-in-law and titular predecessor, channeling Diana's style while stepping out at Windsor.

As noted by Glamour, Catherine's debut royal engagement as the Princess of Wales involved a trip to Windsor Guildhall. As the future queen consort, Catherine thanked everyone who played a role in the queen's funeral, wearing a Dolce & Gabbana coat dress. Not only was the look incredibly classic, but Catherine's outfit of choice was incredibly reminiscent of Diana's black coat dress that she sported in 1988 while in Paris. Both looks feature a beautiful A-line silhouette, rich black material, and highly identifiable gold buttons. Catherine even paired her look with simple pearl earrings, paying yet another subtle nod to her late mother-in-law's choice (though Diana's earrings were far more 1980s opulent). Clearly, Catherine knew to pay close attention to Diana's example as the Princess of Wales.

Blue was the color of choice for this head-to-toe look

We had to do a double take for this one because Catherine, Princess of Wales, clearly took a page from Diana Spencer's book for this look. As noted by Elle, Catherine was visiting Scotland in 2021 when she stepped out in a head-to-toe blue look, dazzling in its own right. The royal blue blazer Catherine wore was bought at Zara (we love a thrifty royal), and she paired it with a pleated skirt from Hope, a tan clutch, corresponding tan pumps, and her classic romantic curls. And while the outfit would undoubtedly have landed her on any best-dressed list, the clear homage to Diana caught everyone's attention.

While visiting South Korea with then-Prince Charles, Diana sported a dazzling blue blazer — complete with gold buttons — and a pleated skirt, creating an almost dress illusion that is just as stunning today as it was then. Catherine clearly knew that Diana's looks were trailblazing even by today's standards, and her decision to put together a nearly carbon-copy look of her mother-in-law's stunning ensemble clearly displayed care, time, and respect. And it wasn't just Catherine who took note of Diana's blue blazer choice. Express noted that after Catherine matched Diana's look to a tee, searches for "blue blazers" shot up by 614% if you can believe it. Research for "blue skirts" saw an 83% jump as well, clearly displaying Diana's lasting impact on fashion.

Kate's look at the Royal Ascot 2022 was a near carbon copy of Diana

When the Royal Ascot takes place, we run — not walk — to the photos, as the event often shows the royals in all their daytime fashion glory. For those of you out of the royal loop, the Royal Ascot is a horse racing event that takes place in the early summer months, and there's something about that feels very Kentucky Derby if it was a hair classier. As noted by Vogue, Catherine, Princess of Wales, stepped out at the Royal Ascot in 2022 in a gorgeous Alessandra Rich polka dot dress, oozing a sense of grace, poise, and Julia Roberts from "Pretty Woman." The dress couldn't have fit her more perfectly, and her Sally-Ann Provan hat was the perfect cherry on top.

And while the then-Duchess of Cambridge looked effortlessly chic, she clearly put a lot of thought into her look for the star-studded day. As Vogue quickly pointed out, Diana wore a polka dot ensemble to the Royal Ascot in 1988, and the similarities are so apparent you'd think you're looking at the same dress. With matching cigarette sleeves, cinched waist detailing, and similar wide-brimmed hats, Diana and Catherine's looks are so obviously connected that we're a little speechless. And, of course, Catherine channeled Diana's iconic smile and cool-under-pressure confidence — not an easy feat.

Ladies in gold -- both looked stunning at official events

While Catherine clearly emulated some of the former Princess of Wales's ensembles to a tee, other outfit choices and nods to her late mother-in-law are slightly more subtle. Nevertheless, Catherine looked to Diana Spencer for gala-inspired outfit choices, and none are more in line with one another than these two looks, nearly 30 years apart.

As detailed by Getty, Diana attended a banquet at the German Embassy in London in 1986, wearing a dress designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel. Just from the photographs of the dress alone, the attention to detail — and the stunning gold embellishments — is apparent, and the gown is just as stunning today as it was back in the 1980s. And while Catherine was still fairly new on the royal scene, she channeled Diana perfectly with her choice of dress for an official state dinner hosted by the head of state for Malaysia. The event — which took place in 2012 — saw Catherine in an Alexander McQueen gown, which featured a very similar base color of cream and beautiful gold detailing, E! Online noted at the time.

There are, of course, some more obvious differences between the two dresses. Diana's "lady in gold" look featured a strapless neckline, whereas Catherine had to be mindful of Malaysia's decency laws. As such, her gown included cap sleeve detailing and a full-length skirt, honoring the country's specifications. Nevertheless, the influence is apparent.

Even while skiing, Kate channeled Diana's look

While Diana Spencer was a working royal for much of her life — attending events, supporting charities, and more — she also made time to enjoy one of her favorite hobbies, skiing. She was a staple on the slopes during the 1980s, and the photos of her zipping down the mountain or playing with her sons in the snow are just as lovely today as they were almost four decades ago. Of course, as noted by Vogue, it wasn't just her slopestyle that Diana was known for — she pretty much-pioneered ski style and winter attire, and her influence still reigns supreme. Two ski trips specifically, in 1985 and 1986, saw Diana in "scarlet all-in-one" winter looks, allowing her to stand out from the snow-laden setting. Pairing her dazzling red look with a chunky headband on one occasion and a cozy beanie on another, Diana looked simply radiant while in her element, and Catherine, Princess of Wales, clearly took notice.

Photographed in Switzerland in March 2005, Catherine was spotted skiing with Prince William and Prince Harry (still thick as thieves then) and sported none other than a bright crimson ski jacket. Throwing her hair up in a ponytail and wearing a corresponding red headband to keep her ears warm, the young Catherine looked like Diana from another time. The Princess of Wales has since been spotted in bold, red skiing jackets, very much keeping her late mother-in-law's iconic look alive. 

Kate and Diana's early days look eerily similar

When Diana Spencer first stepped onto the royal scene, the public was besotted by her. She was dazzling, a radiant young beauty, and her first public appearance with Prince Charles had everyone talking. As noted by Insider, the young Diana joined Charles at Goldsmith's Hall in 1981 in a stunning black taffeta gown. The strapless look, cinched waistline, and full skirt was a bold look for the newly minted royal girlfriend, and we're here to say that she looked simply stunning. Charles, meanwhile, was not a fan. Andrew Morton noted in the book "Diana: Her True Story — In Her Own Words" that Charles hated the dress, and Diana telling Morton that her betrothed made his opinions clear.

"I remember walking into my husband-to-be's study and him saying: 'You're not going in that dress, are you?' I replied: 'Yes, I am.' And he said: 'It's black! But only people in mourning wear black!'" Diana said. Clearly, she was not dissuaded by Charles's aggressive opinion and wore the dress anyway.

Someone else who wasn't impacted by Charles's dated opinion? Catherine, the now Princess of Wales, who stepped out in late 2011 in an almost identical black strapless ballgown. As noted by the Daily Mail, Catherine and Prince William attended the Sun Military Awards, and the young royal looked stunning in her black velvet ensemble from Alexander McQueen, taking a cue from Diana to rock black while not mourning.

Their decades-apart looks for Remembrance Day are cut from the same cloth

Life as a working royal is all about public appearances — from charity work to gala events, state dinners, and everything in between; the life of a senior royal is about service to the Commonwealth, and perhaps no event serves this narrative better than Remembrance Day. The Remembrance Day commemoration is like Memorial Day in the United States — it stands as a day to recognize all who died in the First World War and is still a large part of British public life today—during the 2021 National Service of Remembrance, Catherine, Princess of Wales, stunned in a gorgeous black ensemble that featured white piping detail, silver buttons, and red trim reminiscent of a military uniform. As noted by People, her look was a nod to Diana Spencer's Remembrance Day parade look sported in 1988 and 1992.

Catherine's look, in particular, showcased a white collar, a beautiful wide-brimmed hat (which People notes she doesn't often sport), and a traditional poppy pin. And while many were likely focusing on Catherine's polished look for the Remembrance Day service, others pointed to the nearly identical look Diana wore. Diana, too, wore a wide-brimmed hat, a black coated dress with bold buttons, pearl earrings, and a poppy pin, forcing us to do a double take given how similar these ensembles are. Catherine may have been honoring those who died during World War I, but she was obviously paying tribute to Diana.

Trooping the Colour marked another matching look

As Diana Spencer started to strike out on her own — namely due to the infidelity that ravaged her marriage to then-Prince Charles — her outfit choices reflected personal growth. Her early days on the royal scene were full of soft silhouettes, her iconic blue eyeliner, and looks that fit an innocent young princess. But as time went on and the then-Princess of Wales was forced to carve out her own space, her outfits transformed. She started sporting menswear-inspired cuts, her hair got significantly shorter, and her makeup went from a doe-eyed young girl to a sophisticated working royal. With all that said, Diana's outfit — which she wore during a 1991 event honoring those who served during the Gulf War — is a perfect example of her more sophisticated style. The white coat dress featured a bold v-neck shape and prominent buttons, and she paired the look with a two-toned hat that demanded attention.

Catherine, Princess of Wales, took a cue from her late mother-in-law in 2022, Newsweek noted, during the Trooping the Colour event, which celebrated Queen Elizabeth II's 70th year as reigning monarch. Catherine was seen in an incredibly similar white coat dress, which featured the same deep v-neckline and prominent button detail. She, too, paired the look with a two-toned hat and drop-down earrings, providing royal watchers with yet another example of Diana-inspired looks.

Kate's stunning look in white channeled Diana to a tee

Diana Spencer and then-Prince Charles of Wales separated in 1992, and by 1996, their marriage was over. Despite their strained relationship and status as a couple, Diana still attended many royal events and was seen as an important member of the royal family. The 1995 VJ Day Commemoration event is an example, CNN noted at the time. Diana was seen in a stunning white ensemble on the day in question, one such look that has made it onto many best-dressed lists. The suit jacket and skirt pairing was made even more dazzling by the black piping that detailed the lines of the garments, and the bold buttons drew everyone's gaze. Diana paired her look with a pillbox hat and equally charming black pumps featuring white stripe detailing. Overall, the look was very Jackie Kennedy circa 1950, and it looks just as radiant today as it did in the 1990s.

Catherine, Princess of Wales, knows better than anyone just how iconic her late mother-in-law's fashion looks were, and she took a cue from this ensemble in particular during the Order of the Garter event in 2019. As noted by Harper's Bazaar, Catherine was seen in a Catherine Walker coat dress that featured the same black piping as Diana's 1995 look. She rounded out the outfit with a pair of pearl earrings and a hat from Lock & Co., again displaying that Diana was a source of fashion inspiration.

Kate honored Diana during this special, personal moment

The birth of a royal baby is perhaps one of the happiest — and high profile — moments in a royal's life. When Diana Spencer had her children, Prince William and Prince Harry, she was viewed by many as having done her role — she provided the throne with an heir and a spare. The narrative surrounding her pregnancies and children was, of course, much different than modern standards, but nevertheless, Diana was a dedicated mom who clearly adored her kids. When she left St. Mary's Hospital having just given birth to Harry, Diana was seen wearing a red dress and corresponding coat, People noted, holding little Harry wrapped up in a blanket. Sadly, the adoring mom would only have 12 years with her second-born child, but her love for her kids has stood the test of time.

In a rather touching and memorable moment, Catherine, Princess of Wales, took a page from Diana's fashion book and similarly wore a red dress with a white collar — just like her late mother-in-law — as she left the hospital after giving birth to Prince Louis. Catherine's dress was from the designer Jenny Packham, who also designed Diana's blue-green dress to leave the hospital after giving birth to Prince William. Overall, Catherine's choice in both dress design, color, and designer indicated that Diana was on her mind at such a special moment. This particular example is just too heartwarming.

Diana's influence was clear during this appearance of Kate's

To say that Diana Spencer and King Charles III's marriage was fraught with tension is a significant understatement. Charles's ongoing relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles forced a wedge between the married couple and parents that eventually could not be repaired, and they finally divorced in 1996. Diana died in 1997, tragically leaving behind her two young boys and a world in mourning. Catherine, Princess of Wales, has clearly identified that keeping Diana's influence alive — in terms of fashion and iconic looks — is a visual way of honoring her, and the dress she chose while photographed for Charles's 70th birthday portrait could not have been more of a perfect example of this.

As noted by Hello! Magazine, Catherine wore a polka dot dress from designer Alessandra Rich for the portrait in question. It featured a beautiful white collar which stood out amid the photograph (and we have seen Kate in this dress before, and it simply is a dazzling look). What made this choice that much more special, however, is that Diana wore a very similar polka dot dress with a prominent white collar in 1989. She was pictured in Hong Kong in a light blue, polka dot dress with — of course — a bold collar and buttons. 

To wear such a design that invoked her late mother-in-law — for a portrait with Charles, of all things — is clearly a nod that Catherine was aware of. We can't wait to see how her wardrobe as the Princess of Wales continues to pay tribute to the beloved late royal.