She’s expecting her first baby in a matter of weeks. But when it comes to navigating the heights of fashion, the Duchess of Sussex is proving herself a towering success.
Now into her third trimester, Meghan, 37, is at a stage of pregnancy at which most women just want to slide their weary feet into comfortable slippers.
At eight months’ pregnant, some mothers-to-be can’t even see their feet, let alone contemplate squeezing them into a pair of vertiginous heels.
Yet, day after day, the Duchess is sashaying around — gazelle-like — in a succession of skyscraper stilettos that would give many a non-pregnant woman vertigo.
Left: Meghan at an animal charity in January wearing £520 Paul Andrew slingbacks. Right: She wore £370 Weitzmans to see Cirque du Soleil
Asked how she was managing to cope in heels at one recent engagement, Meghan reportedly quipped: ‘One day at a time.’
So how does Her Royal High-Heeledness do it and should other heavily pregnant women follow suit? On Monday, Meghan wore a pair of her favourite Aquazzura Deneuve suede pumps in black (she has them in several colours) with a green Erdem coat and dress for Commonwealth Day.
The £490 shoe’s buttery suede ties in a bow at the back and has a teetering 4.1in heel — not that Meghan showed even a flicker of unease as she strode along, even executing a pavement-grazing squat (no easy task, even in trainers) to accept a posy from a young fan.
Left: £508 Manolo Blahnik pumps for a January engagement in London. Right: £770 Givenchy boots for a London community kitchen visit back in November
Attending the Fashion Awards at London’s Royal Albert Hall in December, she sported a pair of strappy gold sandals by Tamara Mellon that boast a 4.3in heel.
Last week, it was her 4in Manolo Blahniks with a leg-flashing black-and-white mini dress, and it was the same shoe in a different colour for her New York baby shower.
Even her boots are towering — the mid-calf pair (Tamara Mellon) she was seen wearing in New York also soar to 4.1in.
Dressed down in jeans at the Wembley Arena climate change event with Prince Harry it was the Manolos (again), and that’s before we get to the red Stuart Weitzman skyscrapers she wore on her visit to Birkenhead (another pair clocking in at 4.1in), the Weitzman sandals she wore to a Cirque du Soleil premiere (4.1in again) or the piece de resistance — the black-and-gold Aquazzura mules (no back support and 4.1in yet again) she wore to an awards ceremony last month.
Left: A January trip to Birkenhead in £310 Stuart Weitzman Leigh pumps. Right: Back to Blahniks (£495) last week
At 5ft 6in, the Duchess regularly stands at 5ft 10in tall in heels, much closer in height to her husband, who stands at 6ft 1in.
Pregnancy is hard work. By the end of the eighth month an unborn baby can weigh as much as five pounds — and that’s without factoring in the placenta, amniotic fluid and heavier breasts.
Unsurprising, then, that a big issue for a woman in late pregnancy is balance, as her centre of gravity literally shifts forward.
Some doctors even warn against high heels for precisely that reason; an unexpected fall is the last thing a pregnant woman wants.
Left: She began this royal tour last month in £510 Gianvito Rossi pumps. Right: For her baby shower in February, she chose, £290 Weitzman suede pumps
The problem is compounded by pregnancy hormones such as progesterone and relaxin, which as its name suggests makes all the muscles and ligaments in the body relax, making it far easier to turn an ankle.
Midwife Claire Chaubert says: ‘All of your ligaments are softer in pregnancy and your body is not in its usual state of alignment.
‘But Meghan is clearly comfortable in her heels, and it’s something she is used to. My advice to any woman who does wear high heels in pregnancy would be not to wear them past the level of comfort.’
Left: Blahniks again, this time £508 pumps for International Women’s Day last Friday. Right: At the National Theatre in January in £440 Aquazzurra heels
With a mother who is a yoga instructor and as a keen yogi herself, Meghan is well-versed in the benefits for body and mind.
‘People who do quite a lot of yoga tend to have a much stronger sense of balance, as well as better muscle control and strength,’ says Claire.
The expectant mother’s poise may also owe a little to her former career: as an actress on TV series Suits, her character was often wearing stilettos.
The College of Podiatry recommends that pregnant women wear ‘comfortable, supportive footwear’, preferably with an adjustable fitting such as Velcro or laces and avoid wearing high heels as they can place ‘unnecessary pressure on your joints at a time when they are already under strain’.
Left: Tamara Mellon £420 sandals at December’s Fashion Awards. Right: Meghan on Monday in £490 Aquazzurra slingbacks
College spokeswoman Emma McConnachie explains that during pregnancy feet and ankles can change shape, even during a day.
Some women even need to increase their shoe size as fluid from the veins leaks into the surrounding tissue of the legs and feet and doesn’t drain.
If Meghan’s slender ankles are anything to go by, it would seem she has managed to avoid this pregnancy pitfall.
Emma says the perfect heel height during pregnancy is just over an inch, which shifts the weight slightly forward for comfort, but she adds: ‘Women who regularly wear high heels can find the muscles at the back of their legs shorten, meaning it is actually uncomfortable to wear flats.’
As for Meghan, Emma speculates: ‘I bet she has a pair of slippers in the car!’
Left: She was in £480 Ralph Laurens at a gala event in London in February. Right: Aquazzurra £490 heels for a December charity visit