Of course, this could be a coincidence—black eyeliner is a makeup bag staple for everyday women and celebrities alike—but given the fact Markle usually keeps her look more muted, it wouldn’t be surprising if it were a conscious choice to express her emotional state.
“Makeup is often an opportunity to reflect on the outside the way we feel inside,” founder of Beaumont Etiquette and royals expert Myka Meier tells Glamour. “Also considered a groundbreaking interview, I’m not surprised to see Meghan’s choice of makeup to be bold and empowered, similar to Princess Diana’s during her Martin interview. Meghan’s makeup in her Oprah interview reflects her pre-royal lifestyle, as before Harry, she often wore many dark eye colors and shades. Once she became a senior royal, we saw her transition to more natural, dewy shades.”
Meier says that Princess Diana used makeup to communicate in a similar way. “The interview Princess Diana did with Martin was groundbreaking in so many ways,” she says. “Her makeup for that interview was considered very bold and intentional and was thought to represent the tone of what she was going through at the time.”
While Princess Diana was known for having fun with her look and being more of a free spirit than the other royals, she also intrinsically understood it as a way to communicate what she was going through under the layers of royal protocol.
“In the ’80s, a lot of people were wearing blue eyeliner, and she was so young,” Diana’s makeup artist Mary Greenwell recently told Vogue. “She could get away with doing whatever she wanted. She was experimental and absolutely loved makeup, but when she went out on the red carpet, we just tried to make her as glamorous and gorgeous as possible for the time.”
She also relied on makeup as literal armor against the press. According to the Daily Mail, Princess Diana would wear a thick layer of almost orange foundation in public in order to avoid being called “pale,” “wane,” and exhausted by the press. Eventually, she started using a tanning bed three times a week instead.
While she relied on these glamorous looks and fun eyeliner at the beginning of her rise to fame, when she was finally feeling free from the palace scrutiny, she switched to a more fresh-faced look. However, when she stepped onto the red carpet in her famous “revenge dress,” her signature blue liner was switched for a classic black—similar to the BBC interview, though less intense—and her nails were painted a bright scarlet (thought to be Revlon Red, which would become her signature shade). Royal commentators surmised the look was meant to signal confidence and control.
Whether Meghan Markle is aiming to do something similar with this Oprah Winfrey interview is hard to say. But from the looks of the clip, she’s back in control, and her eyes—rimmed heavily with black liner—project it.
Bella Cacciatore is the beauty associate at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @bellacacciatore_.