Why does Meghan Markle keep choosing to wear jewels of unknown and/or diplomatically fraught origin?
As a refresher, I recommend you read Part 1 of this saga, involving Meghan wearing earrings gifted by Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohamad bin Salman to a state dinner in Fiji, three weeks after MBS had ordered the murder and dismemberment of a Washington Post journalist in a Turkish embassy. Part of this story involves Meghan and/or her team choosing to lie to the press about the origin of the earrings by saying that they had been borrowed from the jeweller Chopard.
There is a bit of an addendum to Part 1 of the story, which is that Sussex-friendly reporters Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand touched on the MBS earrings in the newly released epilogue to their Sussex biography, Finding Freedom, last month. Scobie and Durand confirmed that Meghan and her staff knew the earrings had been “a gift from the Saudi royal family” when they were worn in Fiji. Scobie and Durand also defended Meghan by arguing that the Queen, the Duchess of Cornwall, and even Diana, Princess of Wales all received millions of dollars worth of jewels from members of the Saudi royal family over the years. To Scobie and Durand my counterpoint would be this: Did any of those women wear diamonds from members of the Saudi royal family three weeks after they had ordered the murder and dismemberment of a journalist residing in the country of your citizenship? While on a State Dinner representing the Queen?
Cut to just a couple of weeks ago, when Harry and Meghan were announced as some of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. This included posing for one of the multiple covers of the magazine announcing the Influential People list.
Zoom and enhance!
For the Time cover, Meghan chose to wear a pinky ring designed for her by Lorraine Schwartz. Meghan also wore this ring in a portrait taken for her appearances at the Time Summit in fall 2020.
Let’s jump back to fall 2020. A Page Six article from October 20, 2020, written by a reporter who is known for favourable Sussex coverage, Sara Nathan, claimed that the pinky ring in question was custom-made for Meghan by jeweller Lorraine Schwartz. Schwartz is well known on the US celebrity circuit and has provided jewels for people like Beyoncé. All of that is par for the course celebrity stuff.
But here’s when things went off the rails. The article, which was marked at the top with an “EXCLUSIVE” graphic, said that Meghan “turned to celebrity jeweler Lorraine Schwartz to fashion the ring from a gift of diamonds that the couple received from the Middle East. While Schwartz declined to comment, we’re also told that she made diamond earrings from the same set.”
When the article was published in October of 2020, I was still posting royal stories on my private, personal Instagram account to friends and family. In these stories, I wrote: “Ummm…the f***?” (Apologies for the curses!) I continued, “[The Page Six article doesn’t give any more detail than that. It doesn’t say where or who in the Middle East these diamonds were gifted from, and it doesn’t say the context in which they were given. Presumably they were gifted after Harry and Meghan quit the royal family because gifts like this aren’t allowed if you’re a member of the royal family because they could be seen as bribery.”
In the next story I wrote, “Who the f*** from the Middle East is gifting Meghan MULTIPLE LARGE DIAMONDS and WHY IS SHE ACCEPTING THEM????…Why is this not on the Daily Mail??”
Well, 47 weeks after I first posted about it, Meghan chose to wear the pinky ring on the cover of Time two weeks ago, and it became a story on the Daily Mail:
(Side note: I posted about this Middle Eastern diamond pinky ring fiasco on the day the Time cover photo was released, September 15, before anyone else had picked it up, so I’m sort of wondering if someone from the Daily Mail saw my posts and decided to write a story about it. Which is cool! If you’d like to help me pay off my student loans, Daily Mail, get in touch on the Contact page of my blog!)
After the Time cover photos were released, the Daily Mail asked a spokesperson for the Sussexes about the origin of the pinky ring (the same one from the October 2020 Page Six article). A spokesperson for the Sussexes said that Meghan’s pinky ring was provided by the stylist hired for the photoshoot. However, shortly after, the spokesperson came back to the Daily Mail to say that the previous statement, about the ring being provided by a stylist, was about a different ring on Meghan’s left hand (the Middle Eastern pinky diamond ring is always worn on Meghan’s right hand). The spokesperson refused to comment on the pinky ring at all. So the Sussex spokesperson refusing to answer any questions on the pinky ring would lead most of us to infer that the origins of the ring are diplomatically iffy at best, and an international incident at worst.
And it gets weirder. Even after the Daily Mail published the story about the mysterious diamond pinky ring, Meghan chose to wear it throughout her and Harry’s visit to New York this weekend. Including to visit the United Nations! Pics:
So here are the things we know so far:
- Meghan chose to wear earrings from the Saudi Royal Family three weeks after a Saudi prince ordered the murder and dismemberment of a journalist and US RESIDENT. These earrings were worn to a State Dinner in Fiji where Meghan represented Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
- Meghan accepted a gift of multiple! loose! diamonds!??? from some entity or person in “the Middle East”. We don’t know if these diamonds were gifted before or after Meghan left the British Royal Family. Either way, she shouldn’t have accepted them. But if it comes out that she accepted them before January 2020? God help us all.
- The detail of Meghan accepting the gift of loose diamonds (I truly love that they were LOOSE diamonds. Were they given to her in a velvet bag? A platinum briefcase? We’ll never know.) was provided as an exclusive to Page Six, which means that Meghan didn’t know enough about diplomacy to not leak the news of such a gift to a friendly reporter.
- After it came out that the origin of these loose diamonds, which are now a pinky ring and earrings (and possibly other items? Unclear how many diamonds she received), rather than understanding the diplomatic sensitivity of the situation, Meghan chose to keep wearing the pinky ring and then wore it ON THE COVER OF TIME MAGAZINE.
- She then wore it throughout her and Harry’s New York “tour”, including to meet diplomats and TO THE UNITED NATIONS. No wonder KenPal and BuckPal staff look exhausted in pics from 2018 on. I’m exhausted and I’m just observing it.
Relevant side note: Every single time I think of these Meghan diamond debacles, I am reminded of a story told by Barack Obama in his memoir A Promised Land. As a newly elected president, Obama and his staff traveled to Saudi Arabia for a series of diplomatic meetings in 2009. President Obama and his team stayed at the Saudi King’s horse ranch outside Riyadh.
While getting ready to do some work with his team in his suite at the King’s ranch just after having arrived there, Obama and his team noticed a large travel case on the mantelpiece. Obama writes, “I unsnapped the latches and lifted the top. On one side there was a large desert scene on a marble base…On the other side, set in a velvet case, was a necklace half the length of a bicycle chain, encrusted with what appeared to be hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of rubies and diamonds – along with a matching ring and earrings.”
The travel case had been deliberately left there by the Saudi King’s staff. Quietly leaving extravagant gifts like this is done regularly by some governments and other organizations. It’s an unspoken agreement that, in taking the gift, the recipient will look favourably upon the gifter when their paths cross during official business. When Obama looked back up from the travel case and at the members of his own staff, they responded that they had been surprised to each have already discovered “cases with expensive watches waiting for them in their rooms.”
Even though Obama was a newly elected president, he knew that these gifts from the Saudi King were blatant attempts to curry favour with the United States delegation, and neither he nor his team accepted them or mentioned it to the Saudis. Obama writes that, “Lifting the heavy jewels, I wondered how many times gifts like this had been discreetly left for other leaders during official visits to the kingdom – leaders whose countries didn’t have rules against taking gifts, or at least not ones that were enforced.” Essentially, Obama is saying that anyone working in or near a diplomatic team would have immediately seen those types of gifts as what they actually were – a buyoff – and that anyone in his circle or equivalent circles in other countries, would immediately know that and know not to accept them. And this is such an obvious diplomatic rule, and such gifts from the Saudis are so transparently bribes, that Obama felt he could publicly tell it in his memoir.
It is shocking that Meghan, a person who had years of familiarity with the British Royal Family and months/years of direct advice from Buckingham and Kensington Palace staff and diplomatic staff from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, would think it was okay to accept any gift of loose diamonds from a person or entity from the Middle East. And, just as it was with the MBS wedding gift earrings, Meghan deliberately tried to mislead media and the public about the jewels. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the most frustrating part of the Harry and Meghan saga is that they continue to make the same mistakes over and over. There is no growth, there is no learning from mistakes so as to not make them again. And on issues such as this, that’s why they are rightly and continually criticized.
Here are the questions that we still have surrounding these diamonds:
- From whom were the diamonds gifted?
- When were the diamonds gifted?
- Was this gift just multiple loose diamonds, or did it include other items/cash that we don’t know about?
- Depending on when the diamonds were gifted, did any of Harry and Meghan’s advisory staff recommend that these gifts not be accepted? Did Harry and/or Meghan disregard this advice?
- If no one advised Harry and Meghan not to accept this gift, why didn’t they? Why can’t Harry and Meghan seem to get qualified staff/follow said staff’s advice?
- Did Meghan and/or Harry pay taxes on this gift?
- Were any promises made on Harry and/or Meghan’s end in exchange for this gift? Promotion of a brand/group/event? If so, was it written down or done with a handshake?
- Are Barack and Michelle Obama distancing themselves from the Sussexes because of publicly and easily avoidable diplomatic gaffes such as this?
Thanks for reading. And thank you specifically to Yankee Doodle on Twitter for your generous support!