Veteran fashion journalist Elizabeth Holmes expands her award-winning Instagram Stories series, “So Many Thoughts,” into a nuanced look at the style, branding, and positioning of the four most prominent women in the British Royal family: Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana, Kate Middleton, and Meghan Markle.
Celadon Books: You’re a seasoned journalist and former senior style reporter for The Wall Street Journal, as well as the creator of the Instagram story series, So Many Thoughts (SMT). Tell us how you came up with the idea for HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style.
Holmes: With So Many Thoughts on Instagram, I focus on Kate and Meghan. Every time they make a public appearance, I weigh in with my thoughts on their outfits. It’s always so fun! But before there was Kate and Meghan, there was Elizabeth and Diana. I wanted to understand more of the history of fashion within the royal family and explore the connections between these four women. That’s how the idea for HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style was born.
I have loved diving into their individual style stories. The Queen morphed from the young glamorous monarch we all watched in The Crown to the technicolor grandmother we see today. I see hints of the Queen in Kate, too, with her very sensible approach to clothing. Meghan seems to delight in the fashion aspect of her role much like Diana did. The late Princess made royal fashion exciting, something that everybody wanted to watch, and that consistently landed her on the front page. So these four women together, telling their sartorial biographies, has been a thrill.
Celadon: How will HRH be similar to your Instagram series, and how will it be different?
Holmes: There’s a lot I can do on the confines of my own iPhone, but a book is the perfect place to explore even more. I did tons of research and interviewed lots of people, so we’re telling the stories of these four individual women in a luxurious way, with long biographical essays and then page after page of gorgeous photos with my informed commentary. It will have a similar sense of fun as what I do on Instagram, but will also be a beautiful addition to your coffee table.
Celadon: Why is this an important moment for royal enthusiasts?
Holmes: I think if you care about the royal family, you are deeply invested in this historical time. Kate has repositioned herself as the future queen consort, and her fashion has gotten really exciting. And then with Meghan — breaking out on her own and doing her own thing — you see a duchess bringing the royal family, and its fashion, into the modern age.
Celadon: While researching HRH, what was the one thing you discovered that surprised you most?
Holmes: I was just floored by how many times I said, “Wait! The Queen did this? That looks so much like Kate!” Or, “Diana, oh my gosh, I see Meghan in that!” I didn’t understand how much the choices of the women who came before them inform the royals we watch today.
Celadon: How does it feel to meld your personal interest – royal watching – with your professional life?
Holmes: I spent a decade on staff at The Wall Street Journal covering the business of fashion, exploring the messaging and the power of clothes. Now, I’m taking that experience and applying it to the royal family. These women, more so than anybody else, more so than even celebrities, dress with such thought. Through extensive research and interviews from those inside the royal fold, I’m able to offer insights and clues into what they’re thinking from what they’re wearing.
Celadon: Which royal was your favorite to research and analyze?
Holmes: You know I don’t like to choose! But I would say Diana was a real revelation for me. I’m just a bit too young to have grown up with her in real time. I knew the highlights of her life and her fashion, but I loved the chance to learn a lot more. She was so young when she joined the Firm and had such a profound effect before her tragic death. She really leaned into fashion in a way that I don’t think anybody has since. It was fun for her, and you can see that. It’s amazing to see it unfold in the pages of HRH.
Celadon: All of your SMTs include a “but mostly” takeaway. What is your “but mostly” for HRH?
Holmes: But mostly, clothes really matter. I think sometimes fashion is seen as something that’s fun and entertaining—which it is! But it holds real power, too. There are lessons here that everybody can apply their own lives, too. You know what it feels like to dress up and feel really good, and these royal women know that, too. When you add that extra layer of meaning, it becomes so important, and I hope people see that in this book.