14 Times Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Broke Royal Protocol
The power couple is taking the world by storm with their fairytale romance, but when it comes to their engagement, they’re writing their own story.
When they set their wedding date
“Marry in May, and rue the day.” That superstitious rhyme is what led Queen Victoria to forbid her children from getting married in the month of May, believing it was unlucky. Generally, British royals have heeded the warning, but Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are set to wed on May 19, 2018. They aren’t the first royal couple to marry in May either; Queen Elizabeth’s eldest grandson, Peter Phillips, and his bride Autumn Kelly, and Princess Margaret and her groom Antony Armstrong-Jones also broke the tradition. Unfortunately, the latter couple eventually divorced. Coincidence? You tell us. Check out these other bizarre superstitions of the British royal family.
When they spent Christmas together
Specifically, Christmas 2017, when Markle joined Queen Elizabeth II and the rest of the Windsor family for the holiday festivities at Sandringham. This was a break from royal tradition because only spouses of the Queen’s invitees have been allowed to attend. Kate Middleton didn’t even go in 2010, even though she was engaged to Prince William.
When they spoke publicly about their relationship
As an actress, Meghan Markle has a lot of experience with media interviews, so her talking about her relationship with Prince Harry for Vanity Fair’s October 2017 issue may not seem like a big deal. But where royal relationships are concerned, it was. People who date members of the royal family typically don’t open up about their relationships until they’re engaged or married. That didn’t faze Markle, who wasn’t engaged when she gave the interview, revealing “we’re two people who are really happy and in love.”
Prince Harry also made public comments pre-engagement, but on a more serious aspect of their relationship. In November 2017, he issued a statement through Kensington Palace warning the press to stop harassing his then-girlfriend and her family with racist and sexist comments. Such an announcement is highly unusual for members of the royal family, but he hoped that “fair-minded people will understand why he has felt it necessary to speak publicly.”
When they showed a little PDA
The royal family is known for avoiding any and all public displays of affection, mainly because of their roles as representatives of the British Monarchy. But Markle and Prince Harry don’t let this standard stifle their love. They kissed during their first public appearance at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, and they’ve been seen holding hands on countless occasions. This is likely because of his place in the line of succession. As fifth in line to the throne (sixth after Kate Middleton’s third child is born), Prince Harry has less responsibility to uphold compared to, say, Prince William and Kate Middleton, who have been photographed holding hands fewer than 12 times over the last ten years. Check out these etiquette rules every British royal must follow.
Because Meghan isn’t Anglican
For more than 300 years, the Act of Settlement of 1701 prevented any Roman Catholic, or anyone married to a Roman Catholic, from ascending to the British throne. Meghan Markle hasn’t spoken publically about what her religious beliefs are, but she went to an all-girls Catholic high school in Los Angeles and it’s believed her father is Jewish. While being Anglican is no longer a requirement for royal spouses, thanks to a 2015 amendment, Markle was baptized and confirmed in the Church of England before the wedding to honor the Queen, who holds the title “Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.”
Because Meghan is divorced
Markle dated producer Trevor Engelson for seven years before marrying him in 2011, but the couple divorced in August 2013. Now, divorce isn’t a completely new issue to the British royal family. (See: Prince Charles’ marriage to divorcee Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in 2005.) But her marriage to Prince Harry marks the first time a royal family member will have a church wedding with someone who is divorced. Considering that King Edward VIII abdicated from the throne in 1936 to marry a divorced American (Wallis Simpson), the upcoming wedding is more than just a historic first. It’s a sign that a centuries-old institution can and will change with the times for the sake of its continued prosperity.
When they picked the flavor of their wedding cake
It’s official: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will have a lemon elderflower cake garnished with buttercream frosting and fresh flowers at their wedding. Sounds delicious—with a dash of scandal. From Queen Victoria in 1840 to Prince William and Kate Middleton, every British royal has served fruitcake at their wedding. The cake’s fruits, spices, and alcoholic ingredients (port, sherry, rum, or whiskey) are symbols of wealth and prosperity. Since these ingredients also come from around the world, they also represent the vastness of the British empire. But who knows—maybe the couple will make fruitcake their second cake, for tradition’s sake. They wouldn’t dream of breaking these ten royal wedding etiquette rules, though.
When they made political statements
Queen Elizabeth needs to remain neutral to politics as the Head of State, and the rest of the British royal family avoids getting involved in political matters for the same reason. As CNN reports, “The royal family's position requires the support of parliamentarians—on either side of the political divide.” However, Meghan Markle has broken this protocol by speaking up about the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, saying: “I hear a lot of people speaking about girls’ empowerment and women’s empowerment; you will hear people saying they are helping women find their voices. I fundamentally disagree with that because women don’t need to find their voices, they need to be empowered to use it and people need to be urged to listen.” On a separate occasion, she confirmed that Prince Harry is a feminist, too.
When they chose their wedding florist
Just as A-list celebrities have their own “people” for buying suits or shoes or exotic animals, the British royal family has go-to businesses for nearly every good and service you could think of. They are called Royal Warrant holders, and these individuals and companies have served the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and/or the Prince of Wales for at least five years. Royal Warrant holder Shane Connolly was chosen to create the floral arrangements for Prince Charles’ wedding to Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, as well as Prince William and Kate Middleton’s. However, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are straying from the unofficial tradition with their choice, London-based florist Philippa Craddock. They even went against the Queen’s suggestion of using the Palace staff for the job.
When they switched up common wedding traditions
Speeches are a given at wedding receptions, but rarely do they come from the bride. Markle reportedly plans to give her own speech at her reception instead of letting someone else do it for her. A source says it will be an “affectionate” tribute to her new husband and will thank Queen Elizabeth, her family, and her friends. The other tradition that remains up in the air? Who will walk Markle down the aisle. Early reports speculated that the bride-to-be wanted her mother to do the honor instead of her father, and now rumors are spreading that Prince William may be her escort. We’ll just have to wait for the big day to find out the truth.