She is the stylist the Duchess of Sussex relied on to curate her fashion.
So when Meghan, 39, wanted to make an impact on her ‘farewell tour’ of Britain earlier this year, there was only one woman on her list to call.
And now The Mail on Sunday can reveal its secret weapon: impeccably groomed fashionista Maria Means Cote.
LADY IN RED: Royal Albert Hall, March 7. Safiyaa ‘Kalika’ red capelet dress £ 1,295, Simone Rocha crystal earrings £ 195, Manolo Blahnik ‘Capri’ clutch £ 1,260, Stuart Weitzman ‘Leigh’ pumps £ 295
BLUE AND ROYAL: Endeavor Fund Awards, March 5, Victoria Beckham ‘Crepe Midi’ Dress £ 950, Stella McCartney ‘Lucia’ Clutch £ 1,310, Manolo Blahnik ‘BB’ Pumps £ 515, Roxanne First ‘The Gold Snake Hoops earrings £ 95, Jessica McCormack ‘Chi Chi’ bracelet £ 9,500
Maria, 36, is as much connected as it is polished – she was Prada’s PR and celebrity relationship manager and considers a number of high-end designers to be good friends.
Like Meghan, she’s an American married to a Briton, and living near Kensington Palace made her the perfect date for Team Sussex.
A fashion insider said: ‘Maria was Meghan’s stylist and assistant – she called in all of her clothes and planned out all of her outfits. She really refined her look and the two women got along really well.
After Meghan and Harry agreed with the royal family that they would leave, they planned to return to the UK one last time before fulfilling their royal duties.
Meghan was determined to show everyone what they were losing and wanted to look their best. And she did! Maria drew all her eyes together and Meghan went out with a bang – just as she wanted. ‘
Harry and Meghan had already moved to Canada when they stunned senior Royals by saying they had decided to walk away from royal life.
After negotiating a deal at the so-called ‘Sandringham Summit’ in January, where the Queen, William and Charles agreed to let Harry and Meghan make their own money, the Sussexes agreed to return to the UK for one last time before going to the US.
Meghan stunned onlookers when she came out in a form-fitting turquoise Victoria Beckham creation at the Endeavor Fund Awards on March 5.
The image of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex smiling through the falling rain instantly became iconic.
It was previously thought that Meghan’s best friend Jessica Mulroney had helped style her. Canadian Mrs. Mulroney, married to the son of the former Prime Minister of Canada, had styled the former Suits actress while living in Toronto.
GOIN G GREEN: Commonwealth Day service, March 9. Emilia Wickstead cape-effect dress £ 1,210, William Chambers’ Veil Explosion Teardrop hat £ 525, Gabriela Hearst ‘Demi’ bag £ 1,750, Birks’ Snowflake Snowstorm ‘diamond earrings £ 7,140, Aquazzura’ Purist ‘pumps £ 450
Maria Means Cote, 36, is as connected as it is polished – she was Prada’s PR and celebrity relationship manager and counts some high-end designers as close friends
After Meghan moved to London and married Harry in 2018, Ms. Mulroney continued to help behind the scenes, but Mary, the mother of three, was employed by Buckingham Palace to give the Duchess a more formal appointment.
Maria, who began her career as a purchaser at Saks Fifth Avenue department store in New York, worked with Meghan to incorporate both her personality and style into her outfits.
She also made sure that Meghan’s tour wardrobe – like the ethically fashionable £ 69 Mayamiko ‘Dalitso’ dress worn in a Cape Town township – was both proper and regal. The two women even changed clothes.
Maria’s connections allowed Meghan to always call first-class clothes.
One of the stylist’s best friends is Bella Musgrave, former flame of Prince William, now head of communications for Gucci, another is designer Emilia Wickstead.
When the Sussexes left the UK for the last time in March, Meghan hugged Maria and thanked her for all her hard work.
Now Meghan lives in her £ 11 million Santa Barbara home, complete with nine bedrooms and 17 bathrooms, and Meghan’s American fashion is much more relaxed.
Whether she will ever be seen again in the kind of regal attire Mary has chosen for her remains to be seen.