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13 Royal Rules Meghan Markle Must Follow

Now that she’s the Duchess of Sussex, she has a whole new set of rules to learn.

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Meghan Markle receives flowers from fans
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No autographs

Members of the royal family aren’t allowed to give out autographs. As the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan can no longer sign things for her fans. The reason for this royal rule is so that potential forgers can’t mimic the handwriting of royalty.

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Invictus Games, Toronto, Canada - 25 Sep 2017
Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

She can’t cross her legs

Meghan has had to get accustomed to sitting like a royal. The Duchess of Sussex can either cross her ankles or use “The Duchess Slant”, sitting with her ankles and knees together, heels firmly planted on the floor, and legs slanted to one side. She must also heed to these etiquette rules the royal family must follow.

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Catherine Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and Prince Philip
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She has to curtsy much more

The Queen expects Meghan, and every other female royal family member, to curtsy when they enter a room that she’s in. But Meghan will have to curtsy to every royal family member above her in the Order of Precedence. That includes the Queen, Prince Charles, Duchess Camilla, Prince William, any of the “blood princesses” (Anne, Alexandra, Beatrice, and Eugenie), and Kate Middleton. However, when she is with Harry, blood princesses Beatrice and Eugenie must curtsy to her.

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry depart Catalyst Inc, Northern Ireland's next generation science park

Bye bye, personal social media

Meghan shuttered all of her social media accounts in January 2018, and shut down her lifestyle blog, The Tig, back in April 2017. All of her social media is now handled by the various royal family accounts. Meghan and Harry started their own Instagram account in April of 2019 to document the work they do, the causes they support, and to make major announcements. @sussexroyal has over 8 million followers.

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Queen Elizabeth II and President of Turkey Abdullah Gul flanked by the Princess Anne (top table, left) and Prince Philip (top table, right) as they attend a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace

She can’t choose her seat

Meghan no longer has the freedom to choose where she sits at the dinner table. At all royal family gatherings, she will be required to sit next to Harry. These are the royal rules Meghan Markle had to follow while she was pregnant.

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Britain's Queen Elizabeth II reacts as she attends the Royal Windsor Horse Show at Windsor Castle, in Berkshire, England
Steve Parsons/Shutterstock

Follow the Queen’s schedule

If Meghan is dining or staying at the Queen’s home, she has to eat when the Queen eats and sleep when the Queen sleeps. She can’t start eating her meal until the Queen starts and as soon as the Queen stops eating, Meghan also has to stop, even if there’s still food on her plate. Then, when it comes to bedtime, Meghan has to wait until the Queen dismisses herself to her room before she can go to sleep herself. This rule may sound strict, but it’s not as bizarre as these crazy conspiracy theories about the royal family.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit a Terrence Higgins Trust World AIDS Day Charity Fair, Nottingham Contemporary, UK - 01 Dec 2017

No more selfies 

Meghan Markle’s celebrity status means that she’s probably used to snapping a few selfies with fans. But as a royal, she has to say no to anyone who asks for one. Commoners are encouraged to make eye contact and have conversations with royals, therefore turning your back on them to take a selfie is highly discouraged. That said, Meghan and her husband are known for their sweet interactions with the public. Some of them were even invited to their wedding! And that’s just one of the ways Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding made history.

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Royals attend Anzac Day commemorations in London, United Kingdom - 25 Apr 2018
ANDY RAIN/Shutterstock

Always travel with mourning clothes

In 1952 King George VI died while then-Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip were on vacation in Africa. They had to travel back home in regular clothes because they didn’t bring any black clothing with them. Now, it’s a rule that family members must travel with mourning clothes in case a family member dies while they are away.

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Meghan Duchess of Sussex, ring detail

She is advised to keep her nails light 

Royal family members are discouraged from wearing dark colored nail polish. The Queen’s favorite color, Essie’s Ballet Slippers, is the go-to for most members of the royal family. Meghan wore that color at her wedding and a similar semi-sheer shade when being photographed with baby Archie for the first time. However, she has worn a dark shade on a few different occasions since becoming a royal. For example, she sported a dark shade to match her black dress at the British Fashion Awards in 2018. “There’s no actual protocol about dark nail polish,” royal correspondent Omid Scobie tells BAZAAR.com. “It’s simply about being appropriate—we’d never see this at a royal engagement. But [the British Fashion Awards] is a celebration of fashion and there’s a lot more flexibility on what one can wear.” You may have also missed these tiny details at Harry and Meghan’s wedding.

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Meghan Duchess of Sussex

There’s a dress code

Meghan probably had to ditch a lot of her old clothing when she became a member of the royal family. The women of the royal family are expected to wear pantyhose, heels (not wedges because the Queen hates them), and all dresses and skirts have to be knee length. Case in point: the outfit she wore during baby Archie’s royal debut. The key word here is “expected.” Similar to her pushing the boundaries with her nail color, Meghan has gone against royal protocol a few times when it comes to her fashion. There aren’t any “official” rules when it comes to hosiery and shoes though. Meghan—and even Kate—have gone without pantyhose on a few occasions and Meghan has been seen wearing wedges.

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Teapot and cups with tea on table, tea drinking

Follow traditional tea etiquette

Yes, there is a proper way to drink tea and of course, the royal family is required to do it that way. You have to use your thumb and index finger to hold the top handle and support the cup at the bottom with your middle finger. Also, you always have to sip from the same spot so the entire rim of the cup doesn’t have lipstick stains on it. At least the royals get a tea time at all! Count it among the many bizarre perks of the royal family.

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Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry at the Christmas Day morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk.
Geoff Robinson Photography/Shutterstock

She has to wait for Harry the enter the room first

The royal family always enters a room in the order of precedence. Meghan will have to wait until after Harry to enter a room. The order is Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh (Prince Philip, Her Majesty’s husband), the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall (Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla), the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Kate Middleton), and then the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Prince Harry and Meghan Markle).

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Meghan Markle chats with people inside the Drawing Room during a visit to Cardiff Castle.

No voting

As a member of the royal family, Meghan Markle has to take a neutral stance when it comes to politics—that means no voting. All members of the royal family are allowed to vote, but it is a tradition that they abstain. Yes, being a royal comes with privileges and restrictions, like these words you will never, ever hear the royal family say.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan Cutolo is a former senior production editor at Trusted Media Brands. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine, where she lives, and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.