Why Princess Kate's BAFTA Dress Caused A Stir, And The Symbolism Behind It That People Are Missing

Kate Middleton is known as the perfect princess who always looks impossibly polished. Her BAFTA dress had everyone talking, and many bashed her for recycling a gown she has worn before. But there might be some symbolism behind it that people are missing out on.

By Gina Florio2 min read
Getty/Chris Jackson

Ever since Kate Middleton wore her picture-perfect wedding dress, designed by Sarah Burton, she established herself as the ultimate royal style icon. She has had many wins on the red carpet in the last several years, inspiring women everywhere with her classic, timeless looks. Her BAFTA dress on February 19 became the talk of the town when people realized that she had worn the very same gown in 2019 at the same event. She styled it differently this time, but it started a conversation about whether Princess Kate was sending a message with her outfit choice.

Why Princess Kate's BAFTA Dress Caused a Stir, and the Symbolism Behind It That People Are Missing

Princess Kate showed up to the 2023 BAFTAs wearing a one-shouldered white Alexander McQueen gown that was cinched around her waist with a full skirt. She paired it long black gloves, bronze statement earrings, and long, loose curls, and she carried a small black clutch. She looked elegant as always and she looked particularly happy next to Prince William as they posed together. Immediately the comments were critical of her dress; many said it looked like a cheap wedding dress and others bashed her for wearing the same exact gown on the 2019 BAFTA red carpet.

But @romy_talks_fashion on Instagram broke the outfit down and explained the possible symbolism behind it. She felt like it was a statement: "started from the bottom, now we're here." She also pointed out that her black-and-white choice looked very much like a swan, which is the symbol for "transformation and the awakening to the power of self." This was Kate's debut as the Princess of Wales (she was previously the Duchess of Cambridge), so perhaps she was sending a message with her ensemble.

While some people were making fun of Princess Kate for recycling a dress, others praised her for being frugal and even relatable. "She is a princess not a celeb ! They should get over it, and research what being a royal means - she can’t be wearing expensive or new stuff because her people is in the middle of an economic crisis. She is doing a great job by re styling her pretty dress. Also we all need to follow the example and stop the consumerism and be kind to the environment [sic]," someone commented. Maybe Kate wanted people to know that she is conscious about her closet and doesn't feel the need to waste money on a new gown when she could restyle something she already has.

Princess Kate's earrings were from Zara, which is a departure from what we're used to seeing from celebrity and royals. She chose to go with an affordable option, perhaps sending a message that she doesn't want to take advantage of British taxpayers (who do technically pay for the royals' lifestyle). Many people also pointed out that even if Princess Kate had chosen to go with a brand new gown and expensive diamond jewelry, she would be criticized for being wasteful and living a lavish life. Either way, you really can't win. Kate chose to do the best with what she's got, and you have to give her credit for pulling off the same gown with a brand new spin on it.