Meghan Markle has courted controversy after a new report claimed that the £500,000 earrings she has frequently worn to a number of official events were a "wedding gift" from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. The latter has been recently accused by the US of approving the operation to "capture or kill" journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Duchess of Sussex was sighted donning the Chopard chandelier earrings while attending her first night of a state visit to Fiji three weeks after Mr Khashoggi was killed.
Initially, Kensington Palace press officials said that the earnings were borrowed but did not elaborate. An anonymous staff source in London responsible for royal gifts later confirmed they were a president from Prince Salman, according to a Times report on Wednesday.
The duchess’s lawyers told the outlet that despite Meghan saying they were borrowed, the relevant members of staff were aware of their origin. As they were a gift by a head of state, they were considered crown property and therefore available for her use, but not to sell.
Media furore today that, in 2018, Meghan Markle wore earrings gifted by Mohammad bin Salman. This was the same year the Saudi Prince met with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, as well as PM Boris Johnson. The earrings are state property, belonging to the Crown. pic.twitter.com/5ta8BOplnv— Ben Wardle (@benwardle_) March 3, 2021
The lawyers clarified that this is what she meant if she said they were borrowed. It is unlikely that Prince Salman gifted them to Meghan personally.
However, he may have offered them at an official lunch with Queen Elizabeth during a three-day trip to London in March 2018 - two months before Harry Windsor and Meghan’s wedding.
According to the Times, Royal staff were uneasy after seeing the earrings but Kensington Palace officials didn’t raise the issue during the tour. Meghan later wore them again at Prince Charles’ 70th birthday party at Buckingham Palace on November 14 the same year. Lawyers for the duke and duchess have rejected claims that she was asked about their origin, which they claim was widely known.
This came after Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of Mohammed bin Salman's rule, was killed in October 2018. The reporter was lured into the Saudi embassy but was never seen exiting. Reports, including from the Turkish government, suggest he may have been dismembered with a bone saw and his remains burned.
A CIA report released by the Biden Administration last week claimed that Bin Salman approved the hit against Kashoggi. While the Saudi Prince said he was responsible, as it “happened under my watch”, he denied involvement. This comes amid accusations that some of the 8 people convicted for the killing worked for him.