The Duchess of Cambridge Channels Princess Diana in Alessandra Rich at the 2022 Royal Ascot

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LONDON — It’s not Royal Ascot without one reference to Princess Diana or “Pretty Woman.”

The Duchess of Cambridge arrived at Friday’s racecourse wearing a long-sleeved black and white polka-dot dress from Alessandra Rich that sat above the ankle with a broad-brimmed hat, adhering to the event’s strict dress code.

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Middleton’s feminine print was a firm nod to her late mother-in-law at the Royal Ascot in 1988.

Princess Diana at the Royal Ascot in 1988 wearing Victor Edelstein. - Credit: AP
Princess Diana at the Royal Ascot in 1988 wearing Victor Edelstein. - Credit: AP

AP

Princess Diana’s Victor Edelstein polka-dot dress, however, was more daring as it sat just a centimeter above her knee with a cinched waist and “Dynasty”-style shoulder pads that reflected the style of the ‘80s.

The Duchess of Cambridge accessorized her outfit with the diamond and South Sea pearl earrings that Diana wore to accept her humanitarian award from Henry Kissinger at the United Nations in New York.

Middleton first wore them to a public appearance at the 2019 BAFTAs.

The duchess has often turned to the London-based Alessandra Rich for her most important royal outings, from a thanksgiving service celebrating Prince Philip’s life at Westminster Abbey to the Bahamas at the end of the Platinum Jubilee tour.

The future consort also famously wore a navy polka-dot number by Rich in 2018 for Prince Charles’ 70th birthday portraits that she re-wore for a D-Day exhibition visit at Bletchley Park.

The homage to Princess Diana is a sweet token that the duchess knows will be picked up by royal fans everywhere. - Credit: AP
The homage to Princess Diana is a sweet token that the duchess knows will be picked up by royal fans everywhere. - Credit: AP

AP

The elegance of a polka-dot dress is timeless and a guarantee that you can never go wrong with it. Julia Roberts’ brown polka dot dress worn to the polo match in the classic 1990 film “Pretty Woman” is a pivotal moment in her sartorial narrative and how she wants to be perceived to others.

Polka dots appeared in the spring 2022 collections of Batsheva, Balenciaga and Carolina Herrera, but with the royal appearance at Ascot Friday, they’re bound to pop up everywhere again.

Middleton has been on a strong fashion trajectory in the past few weeks supporting British designers including Emilia Wickstead, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and more.

The homage to Princess Diana is a sweet token that the duchess knows will be picked up by royal fans everywhere, but it also signals her commitment to the monarchy and perhaps a heartfelt tribute to her husband Prince William, who turns 40 on Tuesday.

See Royal Ascot’s Most Striking Hats of 2022

Launch Gallery: Royal Ascot's Whimsical & Flamboyant Hats of 2022

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