Beyonce's Meghan Markle portrait at the Brits: The secret meaning behind the painting

Margaret Abrams
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Beyonce's Meghan Markle portrait at the Brits: The secret meaning behind the painting

Beyonce's Meghan Markle portrait at the Brits: The secret meaning behind the painting

Meghan Markle had a busy few months before giving birth to her son, Archie Harrison.

Her A-list baby shower at The Mark became New York's worst-kept secret, then America’s Queen B paid homage to her in front of millions at the BRITs.

Beyonce's video acceptance speech for Best International Group, which saw her and husband Jay-Z pose in front of a painting of Markle, confirms she's a fan of the Duchess.

But the meaning behind the portrait Beyonce used is equally interesting. It turns out the image wasn’t created exclusively for the BRITs. It was, in fact, originally the cover image of Markle’s sorority magazine. While at Northwestern, Markle was a member of the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma, where her sisters still sing her praises. Many Kappas even flew to the UK last May to serenade her in the royal wedding crowds with their sorority's wedding chant.

Fashion journalist (and unofficial royal commentator) Elizabeth Holmes pointed out the artistic origin of the picture on her Instagram account So Many Thoughts, where she documents the Royal Family’s most noteworthy moments in her stories.

The pre-recorded video of Beyonce and Jay-Z was reminiscent of their “APES**T” music video, where they stand in front of the Mona Lisa. They replaced the shot of the Mona Lisa with a regal one of Markle, which was originally created for Kappa Kappa Gamma’s summer 2018 alumni magazine by Brooklyn-based illustrator Tim O’Brien.

Shortly after the image went viral on Instagram, O'Brien's prints began selling rapidly, priced at $100 a portrait. He captioned his own Instagram photo of the BRITs moment with "So this happened today."

Fittingly, he's also created portraits of a royal Beyoncé.

O’Brien confirmed to Vanity Fair that he was first commissioned to create the portrait for KKG and didn’t know Beyoncé had decided to use it.

Hidden within the portrait are several shout outs to the sorority’s symbols, including the fleur-de-lis hidden in her crown, the sapphires she’s wearing around her neck, and the owl pendant on her arm - all nods to Kappa’s mascots and motifs. Their most noteworthy Greek chant is "the owl, the key, the fleur-de-lis."

Beyoncé continued paying homage to Markle on Instagram, writing “Thank you to the Brits for the award for Best International Group. I won this award back in 2002 with my besties, Kelly and Michelle. How lucky am I to have been in a group with my other best friend, the GOAT Hova. 🙌🏾 In honor of Black History Month, we bow down to one of our Melanated Monas. Congrats on your pregnancy! We wish you so much joy.”

In an interview for the CBS special Meghan and Harry Plus One, Markle's close friend and makeup artist Daniel Martin told Gayle King that he let her know about the homage.

"I sent her a pic. I think it was a screen grab of the two of them in front of the portrait. I think all I wrote was, 'Girl,'" he said. Apparently, the Duchess of Sussex only responded with a single emoji but that was enough. She wrote back with the big eye emoji, proving she was just as enthralled as the rest of the world was.

Now, that's the collaboration America and England need. Beyoncé for godmother?