In centuries gone by, the British Royal family would have been regarded as having a luxury lifestyle that the rest of us could only dream of.
While that is certainly still true of the palaces and diamond tiaras, the family is moving into a new era where they are arguably becoming accessible style icons.
Dubious? Just look at the evidence. The Duchess of Cambridge has an established track record for causing items to instantly sell out - there was that Zara coat, that Preen dress, an Orla Kiely number and of course the Alexander McQueen showstopper - and that is only looking at a six month window of public appearances.
And since announcing her engagement to Prince Harry, Meghan Markle has become the latest family member to fall into the familiar cycle of sell-out mania. You only need reference her public appearance in Brixton, when her entire outfit was traced back to source within hours.
She wore a Smythe coat, Burberry trousers, Jigsaw scarf and a £45 jumper by Marks & Spencer, which then went on to sell out within 60 minutes.
Clearly Markle is on track to be as influential as the Duchess of Cambridge in the style stakes, something which fashion PR Jamie Holloway told the HuffPost UK, is a “phenomenon” when experienced first hand.
Holloway, who represented Goldsign, a denim brand worn by the Duchess of Cambridge on her Canadian tour, said: “By the end of the day 100 pairs of the same jeans had been sold in London alone, bear in mind they are £250 a pair, and Twitter was ablaze. It was without doubt the biggest reaction to a celebrity wearing something I have ever witnessed.”
So why do the royal family have such an influence over the average consumer? Is it simply that they give an item a huge amount of publicity (as with any celeb) or something far more nuanced than that?
When you buy a jumper worn by Meghan Markle, you aren’t just buying the knit, you’re buying into a brand and lifestyle associated with her, says Holli Rubin, a psychotherapist for the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) who specialises in body image.
Rubin says: “The desire to have a piece of royalty is so utterly appealing for the mere mortal. It is, in a small way, enjoying the fantasy of what it might feel like to actually be royalty.”
Louise Camp, a primary school teacher, from Luton, who bought Markle’s jumper from Marks & Spencer after seeing a a picture of her on Twitter wearing it, told HuffPost UK she agreed that she “couldn’t help” herself when she saw it was an affordable high street brand that she also had access to. Despite not necessarily shopping there normally.
It is the closest thing that your everyday person will ever get to feeling like a royal.”
Rubin says: “In reality, in most cases, wearing the same item of clothing or something by the same brand that a royal has worn, is the closest thing that your everyday person will ever get to feeling like a royal.”
So despite knowing that we will never have their live, for a small fee we can imagine what it might be like.
And although dressing up like a princess might seem like a childish ambition, Rubin says emulating the style of other people is intrinsically tied to self-esteem.
“All this gets very tied into identity, how one feels about themselves, how they project themselves and most importantly, how they want others to see them.”
“Aligning themselves with important people and emulating the royal look helps them to feel good about themselves and to feel a part of something bigger and perhaps more important than they feel they are in their own right.”
Rubin says that this emulation of celebrity style has been around forever, but the arrival of the internet has allowed it to become more accessible.
“Wearing a brand does say something about you,” she says. “It says that you are representative of whatever it is that that brand stands for,”
So even if the brand is high street, the fact that Markle has invested in it too, is enough for some people to feel validated in making that purchase.
In terms of the designer items, which obviously aren’t within everyones budget but none-the-less sell out following a royal wearing, Rubin says this is plain old one-upmanship, saying: “There is also an aspect of showing off and flaunting what you are wearing.”
Kate and Meghan have not commented on their sell-out effect, but whatever they’re doing it’s definitely working. And if wearing the same jumper as the Duchess or a Hollywood actress makes us feel better, then we’re totally here for it.