A report by the Times of London on Wednesday found that the Duchess of Sussex wore the earrings during a formal dinner in Fiji in 2018 – just a few weeks after journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.
Suspicions that Mohammed bin Salman had been involved were almost immediate, but it was only a few weeks ago that American intelligence concluded that the prince had in fact ordered the killing.
While a spokesperson for the Sussexes told The Times the allegations around the earrings "spurious," some people questioned Markle’s ethical choice of wearing the jewellery. The spokesperson said, “We have addressed these defamatory claims in full, including spurious allegations regarding the use of gifts loaned to The Duchess by The Crown.”
This includes Piers Morgan, who criticised Markle on his show, Good Morning Britain. After describing some of the atrocities of the Saudi regime, he asked of the earrings, “how does that sit, Meghan Markle?...How does that sit with your constant claims that you stand for women’s rights?” Morgan also questioned whether that she was “unaware” of the implication of wearing them, as the Khashoggi murder was an “international news story”.
Many others, however, saw the report as yet another way of attacking Markle just days before a significant interview with Oprah Winfrey.
People on Twitter pointed out that, as with all gifts to the royal family, the earrings would belong to the institution of the British monarchy rather than to any one person, so Meghan would not have “waltzed in” and picked the earrings for herself.
American actress Patricia Arquette questioned, “If The Crown owns the earrings why aren’t they complaining to The Crown ?”
Others were quick to point out that if Meghan was going to be criticised for the earrings, then the entire royal family would also have to face criticism.
“She should've been a true royal and only wore unethical jewellery stolen thru colonization,” journalist Astead Wesley joked.
The royal family have visited and supported dictatorial governments throughout their rule with little question from the British press. And if it’s jewelry they’re worried about, perhaps it would be best to start with the £100 million diamond on the queen’s crown. In 2015, India, a former British colony, sued Britain to get it back.
“Now let’s do the rest of the British establishment,” journalist Ash Sarkar tweeted, along with a photograph of MBS sitting in between Boris Johnson and Theresa May.
In a response to all the allegations in The Times' report, a spokesperson for the couple told the paper it was "no coincidence" that the report, which they deny, was published just before the Oprah interview.
He said, "Let's just call this what it is — a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation”.