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13 Royal Traditions Queen Elizabeth II Has Broken for Meghan Markle

On matters of lifestyle, what the Queen says, goes...except when she makes an exception, which she's been known to do, especially when it comes to matters involving Prince Harry's wife, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex.

Britain Royals Christmas, Sandringham, United Kingdom - 25 Dec 2017Alastair Grant/AP/Shutterstock

Tradition: Christmas includes only the royal family

The Queen first broke this royal tradition for Meghan Markle in 2017, before Meghan was even married to the Queen’s grandson, Prince Harry. At her beloved Harry’s request, Queen Elizabeth II welcomed Meghan, as Harry’s fiancé, into the royal family’s Christmas celebration. This year, the Queen will break further with tradition by welcoming the Duchess of Sussex’s mother, Doria Ragland, to join the royal family at Sandringham for the annual Christmas celebration. Find out why Queen Elizabeth II will never abdicate.

Coat of Arms created for Meghan Duchess of Sussex, UK - 25 May 2018Kensington Palace/PA/Shutterstock

Tradition: The Coat of Arms is a family affair

Traditionally, a Coat of Arms is created for the family of a spouse marrying into the royal family and given to the father of the bride in advance of the wedding. On May 25, 2018, the Palace announced “A Coat of Arms has been created for The Duchess of Sussex” with a blue background that represents the Pacific Ocean off the California Coast, two gold rays that are symbolic of California sunshine, and golden poppies, California’s state flower. The Coat of Arms, which does not even include the names of Meghan’s parents, was bestowed directly and only upon Meghan, according to Fashion Magazine.

Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Windsor, United Kingdom - 19 May 2018Neil Hall/Pool/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Tradition: No royal church wedding for a divorced spouse

In the royal family, marriages involving divorcees have traditionally been seen as problematic. In fact, when Princess Margaret, the Queen’s late sister, wanted to marry a divorced man, it caused an uproar that ultimately led to the demise of Princess Margaret’s romance. And when Prince Charles got re-married to Camilla, the Queen did not attend the civil ceremony. For Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle, however, the rules were relaxed, and Prince Harry became the first royal family member to marry a divorcee in church. Here’s why Camilla isn’t styled as a princess.

The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Carriage Procession, Windsor, Berkshire, UK - 19 May 2018David Hartley/Shutterstock

Tradition: Marry in May, rue the day

The Queen’s great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, believed it was unlucky to marry in May, buying into the old rhyme, “Marry in May, and rue the day.” The superstition grew into a tradition—one whch was broken when Meghan Markle married Prince Harry on May 19, 2018. What makes this break from tradition even more surprising is that the marriage of the Queen’s own sister, the late Princess Margaret, began on a day in May and ended in divorce. Perhaps in permitting Harry and Meghan’s May wedding to go forward, Queen Elizabeth II was indicating her faith in their relationship. Check out the 12 times the royal family broke their own protocol.

The office and workshop of Barnard and Westwood who are printing the invitations for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding, London, UK - 22 Mar 2018Shutterstock

Tradition: The wedding invitations refer to the bride as “Miss”

While tradition has it that on royal wedding invitations, the bride is referred to as “Miss,” that didn’t seem appropriate in the case of Meghan Markle, who had been married previously. So the Palace allowed the wedding invitation to more accurately refer to Meghan as “Ms Meghan Markle” (no period after “Ms” in Great Britain). Don’t miss these 21 rarely seen photos of the British royal family.

The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Ceremony, St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, Berkshire, UK - 19 May 2018Shutterstock

Tradition: The bride’s father must give her away

In what Marie Claire referred to as “a major tradition-breaking moment,” the Queen allowed Prince Charles to walk Meghan down the aisle when she married Prince Harry. This was after Meghan’s dad, Thomas Markle, backed out. Royal traditions are outdated and don’t exactly fit into our modern-day, but these etiquette rules from the crown will always apply. 

Britain Royal Wedding, Windsor, United Kingdom - 19 May 2018Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Tradition: The royal wedding speeches are given by the best man and the host

At a traditional royal wedding, the best man and the host (in this case, the Prince of Wales), give speeches, but not the bride. However, Meghan was permitted latitude for her wedding to Prince Harry, perhaps because of her “vibrant personality,” according to Harper’s Bazaar.

Britain Royal Wedding, Windsor, United Kingdom - 19 May 2018Ben Birchhall/AP/Shutterstock

Tradition: Hubbies don’t don wedding bands

It is actually British tradition that the groom doesn’t wear a ring at the wedding ceremony, according to Elite Daily. But that tradition was dispensed with for Harry, who, at his wedding, donned a platinum wedding band that he designed for himself. He is the first groom in his family to wear a wedding band. Don’t miss 50 more things you never knew about the royal family.

The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Open-top car, Windsor, Berkshire, UK - 19 May 2018Shutterstock

Tradition: Royal weddings feature all-British music

In another break from royal wedding tradition, Meghan and Harry were permitted to include American songs in their wedding ceremony. Traditionally, only British music figures into royal weddings, we learned from Elite Daily. And one wonders whether this song, which Harry chose for Meghan’s processional, was considered British, versus German (the composer, Handel, was born German and became British).

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle engaged, London, United Kingdom - 27 Nov 2017Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Tradition: No garlic, ever

While we’re talking about the royal wedding, it’s worth mentioning that Queen Elizabeth II is not only not a fan of garlic, but also expects the royal family to not eat it either. But it seems the Queen might be relaxing the garlic embargo because the night that Prince Harry proposed to Meghan Markle, the two lovebirds were roasting a chicken with lots of garlic, and it wasn’t a secret.

Trooping the Colour ceremony, London, UK - 09 Jun 2018Shutterstock

Tradition: A royal lady must cover her shoulders

One might wonder what the Queen has against shoulders, but all the women in the royal family know better than to bare theirs… until now. For reasons that have not yet been made clear, the Queen has relaxed her prohibition on bare shoulders for the Duchess of Sussex, who arrived at her first-ever Trooping the Color (a birthday celebration for Her Majesty), in a shoulder-baring Carolina Herrera dress, according to Marie Claire. Here are 10 more dress code rules everyone in the royal family must follow.

Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex tour of Fiji - 24 Oct 2018Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Tradition: No wedge heels

“Queen Elizabeth II banned wedges a long time ago simply because she doesn’t like them,” according to Stylecaster. “She really doesn’t like them and it’s well known among the women in the family.” But Meghan has been wearing wedge heels, perhaps because her sister-in-law, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, already paved the way by doing so occasionally herself.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle engagement announcement, Kensington Palace, London, UK - 27 Nov 2017Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Tradition: No bare legs

Female members of the royal family traditionally wear stockings with skirts, even if the stockings are flesh-toned. But at Meghan and Harry’s first official photocall after their engagement was announced, Meghan was permitted to eschew nude stockings and go bare-legged in her strappy sandals, reports Insider. Next, find out 13 more ways Meghan Markle has broken royal protocol.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.

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