Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Salute to Freedom Gala: A Night to Remember for the Duke & Duchess of Sussex

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex walked the red carpet in dazzling style this evening for the Salute to Freedom Gala at New York’s Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. The event had been a longstanding fixture in Harry's diary -- and it was a great surprise to see Meghan by his side.

The Duke and Duchess arriving.

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As the couple walked the red carpet, a reporter asked, "Are you proud of your husband?" Meghan replied, "I'm always proud of him."

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The Huffington Post reported live from the event:

'The royals met with the award recipients on the red carpet. In video footage captured by HuffPost, the Duchess of Sussex turned to recipient Sgt. 1st Class Julian Kitching and referenced their shared alma mater, saying, “So, good to Northwestern, right?”

Kitching looked shocked, asking the royal, “How did you know that?”

As the group laughed, Meghan smiled and said, “I know something about all of you guys.”

A livestream of arrivals (Harry and Meghan arrive roughly 40 minutes in). Former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino said, "Prince Harry is here not because he's a prince, but because he's done a lot for the veteran community, and he's a veteran himself."

Prince Harry was asked to present tonight in recognition of his service and dedication to the military community. President Susan Marenoff-Zausner said, "We are extremely proud to bestow the inaugural Intrepid Valour Awards to five incredible individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty and persevered through extraordinary circumstances. It is a core tenet of our institution to be there for our service members and veterans, who are always there for all of us. We are so grateful to Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex for honouring and amplifying the stories of these heroes and helping to raise awareness for mental health support for our men and women in uniform."

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The Salute to Freedom gala "recognises extraordinary leadership, and honors the brave men and women who serve in defense of our nation". Funds raised support more than 30,000 students annually, STEM content, free programmes for veterans and their families, exhibitions that share stories of bravery, and preservation of the Museum's artefacts.

It's very much the perfect space to honour veterans and one Harry has had a relationship with for over a decade. In 2009, Harry concluded a visit to New York with a visit to Intrepid. Harry was presented with a piece of the Intrepid's original wooden flight deck and Intrepid commemorative coins. At the time, Bill White, president of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund said, "It was a great honor to have Prince Harry come to the Intrepid to pay tribute to the heroism of our fallen heroes and the courage of all men and women stationed around the world who preserve our freedoms. Prince Harry has a deep, personal, understanding of the sacrifices made by members of the armed forces and their families, and we thank him for this private, quiet, gesture to salute them." The Prince returned to Intrepid the following year for a reception honouring British and American veterans.

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is an American military and maritime museum located at Pier 86 at 46th Street, along the Hudson River. Founded in 1982 "with the acquisition of the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, now a National Historic Landmark, which served tours of duty in World War II and the Vietnam War, and was a recovery vessel for the Gemini and Mercury space missions". Intrepid temporarily served as field headquarters for the FBI in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. In 2006, the museum closed for an extensive renovation, taking over a year to complete. Below Intrepid during WW2.

Welcoming over one million visitors per year, the non-profit institution features the aircraft carrier Intrepid, the space shuttle Enterprise, the world’s fastest jets and a guided missile submarine. A sea of exhibitions aim to promote education, awareness and understanding of history and science.

Variety reports:

'Military veterans are often honored for their service and remembered on traditional holidays: Memorial Day, Pearl Harbor Day and Veterans Day. But throughout the year, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum pays tribute to those who served through educational and active community programs dedicated to honoring service and continued healing for veterans living with the invisible wounds of war.

“Prince Harry is not receiving an award, but instead is giving awards and that was very important to him to be able to provide the awareness of who the award recipients are — those who have suffered with PTS,” Preisdent Susan Marenoff-Zausner says.'

Harry was determined to mark a week in which those of us in the UK, US and other corners of the world come together to remember those who paid the ultimate price.

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Harry's medals included his Operation Service Medal for Afghanistan in recognition of his service. He also wore the Queen's Diamond and Golden Jubilee medals, and on his neck, the Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, a personal order bestowed by the Queen in 2015.

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A peek inside posted by Royal Suitor (an off-topic moment to mention the talented writer penned a fascinating piece on Bot Sentinel's report published on The Grio).

Guests enjoyed cocktails before dinner.

Harry and Meghan chatted with journalist Bob Woodruff. The former ABC World News Anchor was severely injured in 2006 by an IED Explosion whilst reporting on the ground in Iraq. Woodruff's Foundation supports post 9/11 impacted veterans. 

The couple shared several gorgeous photos taken by Lee Morgan.

Prince Harry was introduced by Ken Fisher, CEO of Fisher House Foundation (Harry recently joined Ken, Dr Jill Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin for a virtual Warrior Games event). In a speech filled with warmth, memories and a special focus on mental health, Harry said, "Good evening everybody, it’s wonderful to be back on USS Intrepid a decade after my last visit—and a lot has changed since then. Just last week, I went for a ride on the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile—how’s that for living the American dream! Thank you, Ken, for the kind introduction—My wife and I are so grateful for your ongoing partnership and we all deeply appreciate Fisher House’s longstanding commitment to military families. On any given night, 1000 families are sleeping at a Fisher House. It’s no exaggeration to say that your services are quite literally keeping families together when they need it most—so thank you!"

Harry continued: "Thank you, as well, to the Intrepid Museum for providing a community hub for those who have served, and to all the individuals and organizations here tonight who are dedicated to wrapping a sense of support around servicemembers after they leave their posts. Those who serve and who have served offer so much to their communities, the wider public, and to the private sector. As far as I’m concerned, they never abandon their commitments and ethics, because the values and principles of service are ingrained in every single one of them, and any business would be lucky to have them.

"Tonight, we are here to honor a group of men and women whose lives are defined by service, purpose and resilience. As many of us see it, service isn’t loud. Service is what happens in the quiet and when people aren’t looking. It’s about how we take care of each other every day. It’s about the camaraderie we share…the laughs, the comfort, the pain, the challenge, and yes, the banter. Throughout my time in the military and after, I recognized and understood that for many who have served or are still serving—it might not feel right to stand out amongst the team and be recognized. But you deserve to be—and tonight, whether you like it or not, that is what’s happening. So, soak it up!"

Harry said: "I’d also like to speak briefly about something else that, until recently, has existed in the darkness: the invisible wounds that we are all susceptible to. The scars on the inside that no one sees. For too long, invisible injuries were treated as just that—invisible—and were destined to be swept under the rug at the risk of shame, guilt, or just a lack of understanding. Yet we now know that the mind is just like a muscle. It experiences trauma and pain, whether in conflict or at home, whether in uniform or not. It needs training…as well as recovery and care, no matter who you are and no matter what you do. Our physical health and mental health are one in the same, and just as much as we aspire to be physically fit, so too we need to be mentally fit. That’s a belief I held when we pioneered HeadFit, a first-of-its-kind resource for servicemembers and those working across UK Defence, to train their minds just like they do their bodies. That’s how we get to ultimate human performance and unlock unknown potential in every single one of us. It is a belief I still hold as I work to increase access to mental fitness tools for all people across the world with the online coaching platform BetterUp."

The Prince noted: "Many of us in this room understand why servicemembers often feel isolated after they come home or once they leave the forces. Wouldn’t you? For years, we and our families orient our entire lives around the mission, the duty, the commitment, and yes—the hurry up and wait. And when we return, we long for the same feelings and contributions: self-purpose, focus, service to others, and being part of a team."

On life in the US: "I’ve lived in the US for close to two years now. I have to say, witnessing your support for all those that put themselves in harm’s way in defense of our freedoms and liberties—it’s remarkable and hugely respected. It reminds me of the deep reverence us Brits have for our military as well. The armed forces communities in both our countries share a special bond, and I’m grateful to have served in support of our joint allyship for many years."

Harry touched on the UK and his military service: "As we honor and reflect on Remembrance Day in the UK, which shares a date tomorrow with Veterans Day here in the US, my hope is for all of us to continue to support the wellbeing (and recognize the value of) our troops, veterans, and the entire military and service family. We and they are better for it. I served 10-years in the military, including two tours of duty in Afghanistan—one as an FAC on the ground and in the dust with some of you, another as an Apache helicopter pilot in the air supporting and talking with you. Nothing was more valuable than the time I got to spend with my soldiers in a shell scrape, eating an MRE in the back of a tank (thanks for the swaps), flying a mission overhead knowing those below were safer, or making each other laugh when it was needed the most. My experience in the military made me who I am today, and I will always be grateful for the people I got to serve with—wherever in the world we were. But in war, you also see and experience things you hope no one else has to. These stay with us, sometimes like a slideshow of images."

Concluding with: "That’s why I created the Invictus Games. Not only to honor the legacy of those who have given so much, but to show everyone else what we know: that the men and women who have experienced service injuries, as well as their families, are the strongest people in the world...and they deserve a platform to be seen, a platform to be recognized, and a platform to be truly celebrated. By doing this, we can continue to be inspired by their resilience and humility. In that same vein, tonight I am proud to be presenting the 2021 Intrepid Valor Award to the strongest people aboard this ship. You have experienced, seen, and dealt with things that few have had to—though the crises we are increasingly experiencing as communities are not only felt by those in the military world, but by everyone. Nevertheless, you are part of an everlasting bond. You are part of the team of teams. And we will always have your backs. You are not alone. Now let’s hear their stories. Please welcome our honorees, one by one, to the stage."

Jon Bon Jovi was honoured tonight with the Intrepid Lifetime Achievement Award. The superstar filmed the music video for his song "Do What You Can" on the flight deck of the museum.

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Variety reports:

'President Susan Marenoff-Zausner says the exposure for the museum, which brings in over a million visitors a year but “like everybody else, was hurt by COVID,” was invaluable.

“It is fantastic when we have that kind of a partnership or that kind of an event and it brings in a new audience who might look at it and say, ‘Oh, it’s a history museum. We’ll get there one day.’ But when it gives us the ability to be able to speak to the good that we do, and it parallels with the good that the people who come on site also deliver, that’s pretty cool,” she says. “We’ve been very fortunate. And we’re going to continue to work to do these things in the future.”

On choosing Bon Jovi, Intrepid said, "Jon is also the Chairman of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing about positive change and helping those in need “one SOUL at a time.” The Foundation funds partnerships that address the issues of food and shelter. Since its inception in 2006, the JBJSF has provided over 700 units of affordable and supportive housing in 11 states. Of course, Harry and Jon know each other quite well. In 2020, the pair joined forces at the iconic Abbey Road Studios where Jon joined the Invictus Games Choir to re-record his song Unbroken.

Chairman & CEO, iHeartMedia, Inc. Bob Pittman received the Intrepid Salute Award. Pittman was chosen for his philanthropic commitments. He was formerly chairman of the non-profit Robin Hood Foundation, which fights poverty in New York City, and still serves on the board. During his time as CEO of MTV Networks, he oversaw Live Aid, a groundbreaking concert for Ethiopian Famine.

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The Duchess was resplendent in a show-stopping gown by Carolina Herrera. We've seen Meghan favour pieces by the iconic brand with some frequency since the wedding. Notable appearances include the Duchess' first Trooping the Colour and recent maternity looks. Meghan has a close working relationship with Wes Gordon, Herrera's creative director since 2018. For their first black-tie event in over eighteen months, it's a stunning choice. With a plunge neckline and a full-skirt with train, it's a striking return to the red carpet.

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Below, a sketch of the gown as part of the Pre-Fall 2022 Collection. 

The eagle-eyed Ashley quickly identified Meghan's gorgeous shoes as the Giuseppe Zanotti Samia pointed-toe slingback pumps. The 'bold red' pumps are described as: "Detailed with a pleated slingback strap and crystal-embellished buckle detail, these stiletto pumps are finished with a pointed toe." They are reduced at present from $933 to $373 at FarFetch.


Below, the Samia slingback pumps in black and pink suede.

They are also reduced by 45% in animal print at the Outnet.

Meghan accessorised with familiar pieces, including her Birks Snowflake Snowstorm earrings.

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The earrings are "inspired by the unique silhouettes and intricate shapes of snowflakes and their shimmer".


The late Princess Diana's Cartier diamond tennis bracelet.

And her Cartier Love bracelet.

The Duchess completed the look with a poppy.

What do you think of tonight's look?

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Tomorrow is Veterans Day in the US, so I suspect we might see the Duke and Duchess again.

50 comments:

  1. I hope the fire department was called to put out that fire 🔥

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  2. Oh My God!! This is the Meghan that I’ve been longing to see!!!! Hot, hotter, hottest!!!

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  3. Sheryl from BC Canada11 November 2021 at 02:55

    They look fabulous!! There is our Duchess. Polished and regal.

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  4. I hate to say it, but it doesn’t look properly fitted. I can never figure out why her formal clothes rarely seem to be properly altered. At first I thought it was because she borrowed them. But then Hollywood stars always have their clothes properly fitted at awards shows and they probably don’t keep those outfits.

    I just can’t figure it out. She has a cute figure too, just a shame.

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    1. I agree Lynn, not the first time either. I love her style, but this is perplexing.

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    2. It is perfectly tailored. In some photos she’s in motion so it doesn’t lay flat at times but we are used to seeing celebrities standing still and posing on red carpets. People tend to misjudge tailoring when it comes to Meghan and not apply the same standards to other royals and celebrities.

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    3. I agree. Something is off on the fit.

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    4. This. Her clothes are always fit and tailored perfectly. I’m always shocked at the amount of armchair tailors who are suddenly available whenever Meghan (and Kate too tbh) wears something. Both have access to immense resources and designer connections. I am quite confident their clothes fit and look as intended. Meghan has the added experience of dressing for frequent red carpets. She knows what she’s doing and how to dress and fit her clothes.

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    5. Actually, though I think she looks great, there are some issues with the bodice of the dress. She's still losing baby weight, and the bodice is a bit tight at the back but could be a little better fitted at the front. This isn't a matter of applying different standards to her, just a simple observation. I like her and have no patience with the hysterical Meghan-haters. I also love the dress (and the shoes). I just think it could have used a few adjustments.

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    6. it is a gorgeous dress, to be sure. But in this case, I think her torso is too short for this style to work and to look properly fitted. I think this is often the issue with her fashion choices. I am also short-waisted and there are things that I would love to wear, but that don't look right given my proportions, no matter how accurately they are tailored to fit me.

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    7. Conversely, the Duchess of Cambridge is long-waisted and short-legged, and I've often seen her wear items that don't really flatter her figure. However, I suppose my view is, if you really love the dress, go for it, regardless of whether it will put your figure flaws on display. You shouldn't have to worry about those of us who like to sit around criticizing the wardrobe choices of people we don't know. At the end of the day, our opinions don't matter, and you likely won't see them anyway!

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  5. One word: STUNNING!

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  6. I was just so surprised that I couldn't post for awhile! :) One of those times that "stunning" is truly appropriate. The red gown, white diamonds, and gorgeous black hair are a triad for success! At first I didn't like the bodice but I see the darts are meant to be prominent. She is just as cute as she can be while also Hollywood glamorous -- I suspect she is dressing for Harry as much as for herself. I also love the cute but spectacular train -- when she looks behind her, she is adorable. Her figure is wonderful -- I look all day at tall thin models who don't look like women, and she is sexy and human!! I know she was a little thinner when she met Harry, but I think she is perfect now.

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  7. Thank you, Charlotte, for your detailed coverage of this event. You must have stayed up 'til the wee hours to post this tonight. I appreciate it very much.

    What a wonderful event. Harry's speech was perfect. Meghan looks gorgeous. I was happy to see her looking so radiant. Harry looked terrific, too.

    R

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  8. I want to like this gown, but I cant. My personal preference is streamlined and sleek this is just too flouncy, the side and back view especially, so much fabric, obviously this is the way it was tailored. The cut of the bustline is not appealing to me either, but that is my personal preference.

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  9. Amazing speech by the Duke, gorgeous outfit for the Duchess and huge thanks to all veterans on both sides of the Ocean.

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  10. Beautiful and both looking cute...... Like I always say "Former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino said, "Prince Harry is here not because he's a prince, but because he's done a lot for the veteran community, and he's a veteran himself." In this century people celebrate impact over title

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  11. I really don't like this look as a whole and the dress itself, although jewelry is nice. And shoes.

    DP

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  12. I was speechless for a second. Describing someone as "stunning" has been thrown around so casually now that I hate to use it, but she's truly stunning

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  13. Thank you Charlotte. Meghan was stunning but it was Prince Harry's speech that touched me the most.

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  14. Stunning dress - the color is beautiful on her. Perhaps the train is not too appropriate or practical for the setting. Definitely too tight around the back. I wish them the best. There is no denying how important military service and veterans are to Harry.

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  15. The overall effect of Meghan's dress is certainly striking, but I strongly dislike the bustline with its very deep plunge and oddly lumpy darts. Her jewellery looks fabulous.
    Sarah UK

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  16. Meghan took my breath away, absolutely beautiful. Thanks as always for an excellent post. Bessie.

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  17. The dress is beautiful, but is not a flattering fit for the duchess, especially in the bust area. I'm certainly no expert on dressing etiquette, but it seems a little too showy for the occasion.

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  18. Meghan looks amazing. The dress is a little ill fitting but it could very well be how it was captured with movement.

    Something I love about Meghan is her confidence, sge looks radiant and very confident in that dress 😍.
    Harry looks great too. Very touching speech. I wish more attention was paid to it.

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  19. The designer has used tucks and folds rather than darts which is not usual. These will not like flat or shape a figure the way that darts or corseting does. That might seem ill-fitting as that's not what we are accustomed to seeing on red carpets. The plunging neckline, too, is not the usual pointed or draped V but a widely curved line, and the large overskirt/train is a departure from norms as well. The dress is striking and Meghan looks fabulous in it, but it does take some getting used to. The mind initially defaults to the familiar and that may be why it's not everyone's cup of tea.

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  20. I love the color and everything from the waist down on her. I can't wait that bodice, it just looks like it doesn't fit properly, and I really dislike the boob darts and the plunging neckline.

    Her hair and makeup though, look fantastic. I also do love a man in a suit.

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  21. Dress is a triumph, beautiful fabric & cut. I am not a fan of visible décolletage, so this dress with its no nipple slippage possibilities is a win. Gorgeous color as well

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  22. Love this looks I cant understand why some think the dress doesn't fit well, it looks fine to me. Maybe lose the weird pin tucks on the bodice as they are a bit meh but otherwise it's a great look and fabulous colour on M. Love the shoes too!

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  23. Really glad to see Meghan out amnd about this week, but this is just too.much.dress. The back has an almost hoopskirt bodice that looks like something from Gone With the Wind. The front bodice is way too fussy, and breaks up the clean lines Meghan usually aims for. I love the color, but the dress design is a miss.

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    1. Bodice or hoopskirt. They are not the same thing. And no, that train isn't a hoopskirt. That said, yes, I think the bodice could have used some adjustments.

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    2. I should add: the back of the dress is actually rather late 18th-century, not mid-19th-century, in design. It rather suggests the elegant back views of dresses that one often sees in paintings by Watteau and his school.

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  24. This is for Anon with a comment beginning with "I'm going to write this but actually hope it is not published".

    I just wanted to let you know I appreciate your thoughts.

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    1. Thank you -- you are extremely kind.

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    2. Really, Charlotte, you are the BEST on the internet.

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  25. Love. Love. Love this look!
    And what an amazing couple!
    In word, in deed and in red carpet splendor, they’ve got it all!
    Renee

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  26. I think we should consider the overall impact -- the enormity of the dress looks pretty great when the two of them stroll through the "hall". The first image and the image with the servicemembers holding flags are spectacular -- a lesser dress would have been lost.

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  27. Am I the only one that thinks the dress is not flattering her? I mean don’t get me wrong - the dress it self is great but I just think it’s not for Meghan - is so unflattering at her. Upper parts - it just feels wrong for me sorry :(

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    1. I agree. Although a great color, It’s not a flattering look on Meghan. She obviously favors very high end designers, which is her right, but I do find that sometimes their designs just aren’t a terrific match for her figure, at least not without a significant amount of alterations.

      In this case, looking at the sketch of the dress, I think this design would be a challenge for any body shape. I guess I just don’t care for this dress at all.

      Great event though!

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  28. I just watched a few minutes of Harry's speech last night. (I hate to admit it was on the daily fail.) I am so impressed with the great improvement in his delivery. He is enunciating so much better. He is pausing for emphasis. It was a much improved and fantastic delivery of his very powerful, military-supporting speech.

    R

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  29. not a fan of the dress but happy to see her glowing and great post Charlotte

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  30. Meghan looks so youthful and fresh! This red is gorgeous and I love the accessories. I wouldn’t wear this myself, too fussy for me, but she owns it and I am glad she can wear what she wants to regardless of what people think would be “flattering.” And really, it’s 2021 and I am glad body positivity is firmly gaining traction. Who cares about what’s flattering or what your supposed to wear for your body type. I say if you love something wear it! Who cares about fashion “rules”.

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  31. Meghan looks wonderful. She can wear so many colors but RED is magnificent on her. I'm on the fence regarding this dress. The red Safiyaa gown she wore to the Mountbatten Music Festival in London (2020) was better IMHO (and a 're-wear' would have been splendid for an event such as this one). This dress would be better suited (again IMHO) at the Oscars or BAFTAs - it's a big dress that steals the show. I love her hair, makeup and accessories.

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  32. This is a totally different comment than all the others about Meghan's dress and the gala. I loved reading the first part of your post, Charlotte, about the Intrepid, because it brought back a fun memory for me. I grew up in NJ, close to NYC, and one year, probably 1999 or 2000, my parents took my younger brother and some of his friends and our family to the Intrepid for his birthday. An older gentleman from our church also came with us, and he had actually served on the Intrepid when it was an active duty aircraft carrier. It was really special to walk around the ship and hear first-hand stories from him. Seeing these pictures of this gala makes me think the ship/museum has changed in the past 20 years, and I would enjoy going to it again next time I'm in NJ visiting my parents.
    Harry's speech was great too, and reminded me of a post a friend just wrote about how her husband and her still deal with the things he saw and experienced while he served in Afghanistan 15 years ago, and how war forever changed them both.

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  33. I think Meghan got just the impression she wanted to achieve -- the front is sparse enough to be able to move well but the back of the dress floats with a mind of its own. :) We need to remember that she (and Kate) are very beautiful people but not perfect. I guess we're lucky they are each so photogenic; I'd like to think Harry and William did not marry for looks. Meghan will never be a taller very thin person, and she looks luscious as she is. Kate has found her comfortable weight, too. The designer's sketch of the dress is just unrealistic, and all designer sketches are like that. They always have been. Think of the extra publicity for the event that may come from Meghan's spectacular image.

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  34. @Rebekah
    Thank you for sharing your personal experience on the Intrepid! Lovely addition to Charlotte’s post.
    And yes, war experience changes a person and can impact a family.
    Btw: I was supposed to have grown up in NJ!
    Renee

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  35. Agree with what an earlier commenter labeled armchair tailors. Meghan is only 6 months from giving birth so the line of this dress is perfect, short in the bodice focusing the eye away from the waist where she is carrying post baby weight. The fit that some have labeled “not fitting”, is actually perfect so that she need not worry about the bodice slipping. As a fashion follower I have never disliked anything Carolina Herrera has done and this dress did not disappoint.

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Welcome to Mad About Meghan! We do so look forward to reading your thoughts. Constructive, fair debate is always encouraged. Hateful, derogatory terms and insults are not welcome here. This space focuses on Harry and Meghan, not any other member of the Royal family. It's not the place to discuss politics either. Thank you for reading, we look forward to your comments :)