The Duchess of Sussex wore earrings from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince after his regime was rumoured to be implicated in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Chopard jewellery was a wedding gift from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and was part of the duchess’ look when she attended a state dinner with Harry during their tour of Fiji which began on October 23 2018.
The Times reported the duchess had told staff the earrings were borrowed rather than saying they were a present from Arab royalty.
Lawyers representing the duchess have told the newspaper all relevant royal staff knew the jewellery was a gift from the Crown Prince, and Meghan was unaware at the time of rumours implicating him in the murder.
In February, a declassified US intelligence report stated Crown Prince Mohammed, the son of King Salman and Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, was likely to have approved an operation to kill or capture the journalist inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Mr Khashoggi, a critic of the Crown Prince’s authoritarian consolidation of power, was brutally murdered in early October 2018.
By the time of the Fiji state dinner, held in honour of the Sussexes on the first day of their visit to the South Pacific nation, former MI6 chief Sir John Sawers had said “all the evidence” suggested that Mr Khashoggi had been murdered on the orders of someone close to the Crown Prince.
The Gulf State ruler was invited to lunch with the Queen during a trip to the UK in March 2018, a few months before Harry and Meghan wed, and it is likely this is when the gift was presented although there is no suggestion Meghan received it in person.
Meghan also wore the earrings to the Prince of Wales’s 70th birthday party at Buckingham Palace on November 14 that year.
An aide decided to bring up the subject of the earrings after the duchess wore them a second time, and spoke to Harry, the newspaper reported.
The duke was said to have looked shocked but lawyers for the duke and duchess deny he was questioned about them, as they said their provenance was well known.
The earrings are classed as a gift from a foreign head of state and so are Crown property and were available to be borrowed by Meghan.
The Times reported her lawyers as saying if the duchess had said they were borrowed, this was what she meant. They have denied she had stated they were borrowed from a jeweller.