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When American actress Meghan Markle married Prince Harry of England, she became the Duchess of Sussex. It was the stuff fairy tales are made of! From her perfect hair, makeup and dress to the way she looked at Harry and he gazed at her, the love was palpable. The entire wedding was perfection but that was just the beginning. After the wedding, the real work kicked in! Let's consider all the royal rules Meghan Markle has to follow as a Duchess.
Being the Duchess of Sussex comes with a massive set of responsibilities. She's not just Meghan Markle, actress, anymore. She’s having teas and meetings with the Queen Mum. She'll be attending galas, balls, public engagements and living a life of royal duties. The public gets caught up in the tiaras and dresses and palaces. But the reality of being a part of the royal family is a life of servitude to the British monarchy. It’s a very ordered, regulated and highly scrutinized existence. As such, there are rules, regulations, and preferences Meghan now has to keep in mind if she wants to stay on the Queen's good side. These royal rules range from obvious to downright bizarre, but we're sure Meghan will have no problem being a model Duchess.
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Hear ye, hear ye! By royal decree of the Queen, thou shalt not wear miniskirts. Miniskirts are a definite fashion faux pas as far as the Queen is concerned. Apparently, Queen Elizabeth disapproves of hemlines that are higher than an inch or two above the knee, as she considered modesty a virtue. Regular female visitors such as Kate, Camilla, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie are well-versed in this fashion stipulation and know better. But now that she's a mom, we figure miniskirts are out of the question anyway. She’ll be tired and consumed with new mommy bliss and we all know that means yoga pants. We wonder what the Queen’s stance is on Lululemon?
Legs aren’t the only thing that has to be covered at the castle. Royals know that in order to appear modest and demure, the cleavage must be covered up and kept out of site. Princess Diana was very fashion forward and liked the occasional plunging neckline, so she had a trick she’d do with her handbag. Every time she exited a vehicle, she’d pull her bag to her chest so she wouldn’t be too exposed. Can you imagine the what for you’d get from the Queen if the paparazzi caught a compromising photo of one of the Duchesses?
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Speaking of covering up and being very feminine, it's frowned upon for royal family members to cross their legs. Royals need to appear respectful, practically reverent and never casual. This is also the rule for all women when attending mass, so maybe it has its roots in the church? You won’t usually catch a royal crossing her legs anywhere other than at her ankles. More often she’ll do a side-by-side move known as "the Duchess Slant", made popular by Princess Diana.
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What the Queen says goes and she has rules for everything. She must be a militant list maker who has a place for everything and wants everything in its place. But even footwear choices? Queen Elizabeth apparently hates wedge shoes. We get that they are dangerous with that crazy narrow heal that loves to wobble but are they so horrible to warrant being banished? Kate still wears them on occasion, but never in the presence of the Queen. When you're traipsing about in grass, sometimes a pointed heel can be a hazard.
Royal family members are prohibited from wearing dark and colored nail polish. Forget about those edgy New York goth nails that all posh women wear. Nope! Duchess of Sussex, you are no longer just a posh woman. You are a Duchess. It’s rumored that the Queen’s favorite color is Ballet Slippers by Essie. Meghan even wore it to her Royal Wedding. Way to score brownie points with your new grandmother-in-law! Meghan caused quite the kerfuffle when she wore a deep purple polish at a royal event. But whatvs, she looked great.
Being a celebrity before becoming a Duchess, Meghan Markle has always had adoring fans. Celebrities know that you have to interact with the people who your popularity depends upon. As a celebrity and influencer, the Duchess has taken more than her fair share of selfies with the public. However, those days are over. If you have a selfie with Meghan cherish it because there will not be anymore. Royals are not allowed to take selfies. The rule was created to encourage people to make eye contact and make conversation with royals. We think a conversation trumps a selfie any day of the week.
Speaking of influencers and selfies, the Duchess is not allowed to have her own social media page. Meghan closed all of her personal social media accounts in January 2018 and closed up shop on her lifestyle blog, The Tig, in April 2017, ahead of her royal nuptials. Currently, Meghan’s social media is limited to she and Harry's official IG account, @SussexRoyal. Don’t hold your breath waiting for any personal new mom Insta Stories from the Duchess in the middle of the night, because they won’t be happening.
Meghan Markle may have had Suits adoring fans galore but the Duchess of Sussex isn't allowed to sign autographs under any circumstances. From here on out, she can only sign royal documents and in some cases visitor's books. If you ask the Duchess of Sussex to sign an autograph, she will have to politely decline. This rule doesn’t just apply to Meghan Markle but the rest of the British royal family too, including Prince William, Prince Harry, Kate Middleton, and even the Queen. They are forbidden from writing their signature down for members of the public, because of the risk of it being forged.
This one gives us a definite Game of Thrones feel. Queen Elizabeth expects all female family members, including Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker Bowles, to curtsy when they enter a room in her presence. It doesn’t matter if it’s a grand gala or a royal barbecue, ladies - bend the knee. Royal curtsies don’t need to reach the floor, just simply the act of putting one leg behind the other and bending the knee with a slightly lowered head is good enough. Deep curtsies and long pauses are a sign of greater respect reserved for the Queen herself. If the Duchess of Sussex is at an official event, she must curtsy to anyone who outranks her title which means Meghan better get used to the curtsy.
File this one under macabre. But, there is a good reason for this rule being in place. King George VI, Queen Elizabeth's father, died following a coronary thrombosis in his sleep after suffering from lung cancer. At the time of his death, then-Princess Elizabeth was touring Kenya with her husband Prince Philip. The distraught couple had to travel back to England in their street clothes because they had no mourning clothes with them. Since then, it has been deemed imperative that all royals must always travel with a set of funeral clothes in the event that a member of the family dies while they're away.
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Did you know that if Meghan is dining or staying the night at the Queen’s home, she has to eat when the Queen eats and sleep when the Queen sleeps? No exceptions. She can’t start eating her meal until the Queen starts, no matter what kind of pregnancy-induced starvation mode she may be suffering. Meghan Markle should not begin eating her meal until the Queen has started eating hers and when the Queen stops eating, everyone must stop eating, even if there is still food on your plate. As soon as the Queen stops eating, forks down. At bedtime, the Duchess of Sussex has to wait until the Queen goes to bed before she can dismiss herself to bed. Luckily, it’s rumored the Queen has a modest bedtime and sleeps for 10 hours uninterrupted.
If Meghan will be dining with the Queen, she should be prepared to always eat at 8:30 p.m. and dinner will be over by 10 p.m. If she thinks she is going to be ravenous waiting to eat at this late hour, Meghan should get herself a snack or eat on the fourth meal plan. The Queen does what she likes because she can. Plus, she’s in her 90’s, we should all be impressed by the fact that she’s not making them eat at 4:30 p.m. and going to bed by 8 p.m. As a new mama, Meghan probably appreciates the later meal times - it means Archie will likely be asleep and she can actually eat her meal with both hands.
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Apparently, becoming a royal is like being jumped into a street gang. It’s for life! At all royal family gatherings, the Duchess of Sussex will always and forever be seated next to her Prince Harry. The seating arrangements are not random, either. They're completed with everyone in mind, so that people with similar interests are seated near one another, and people with bad blood don't have to make pained small talk during royal events. The Queen is strict, but she isn't a monster.
There really are rules for everything a royal does. There is even is a strict code of conduct for how to enter a room when you are with the Royals. You can’t just walk into a room. When the royal family is part of a procession, they enter and are seated in the order of precedence, which is essentially the order of who’s next in line to the throne. Here's the royal order: Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Camilla, Prince William, Duchess Catherine, Prince Harry and then (and only then) the Duchess of Sussex. As the kids get older, the order of entrance will change, and Harry and Meghan will get bumped back a bit.
We wouldn’t want to be the Brit who didn’t know how to drink their tea correctly in front of the Queen. Tea time is an important time for royals and Meghan better get her tea drinking game face on. Etiquette dictates that the correct way to drink tea is to use your thumb and index finger to hold the top of the handle, while the middle finger supports the bottom. Women should sip from the same spot the entire time to avoid lipstick stains around the rim. If you are a coffee drinker, loop your index finger through the handle. But never, ever sip your tea with your pinkie finger out. That’s too pretentious for even the Queen.
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It's an ancient royal tradition to decline shellfish in order to avoid food poisoning. A Queen’s got to be careful! Not sure if the Duchess will be expected to adhere to this rule or not. Maybe she’ll have to late night sneak and eat lobster over the kitchen sink in the dark like the rest of the world does cookies or maybe she’ll throw out all the shellfish along with her miniskirts and wedges. Honestly, if you've ever had food poisoning from bad shellfish, then this rule not only makes sense, but you likely follow it in your own life now.
This is just good etiquette everywhere, generally speaking. When a woman, especially a woman of a certain age, stands to leave the table or the room, those in her vicinity should also stand. But this goes double when it comes to the Queen. Rumor has it she's been known to stand at dinner or other functions when she's ready for people to leave. This is probably one of the royal rules is enforced the most. But again, it's just good manners! So if you're ever in the presence of the Queen and she stands up, your butt better leave your seat.
If we had access to an entire vault of priceless jewels and tiaras, good luck keeping us away from them. We'd wear a tiara to preschool drop-off, spin class, and while putting our kids to bed. But apparently, the royal women have to learn to resist the temptation to walk around dripping in diamonds. There are royal rules surrounding tiara use, and they're kind of boring, tbh. They have to be worn on their wedding day, but after the wedding, they can only wear tiaras from the groom's side of the family. They must be worn to certain royal events, but only after 6 p.m. and only indoors. And you have to get permission from the Queen to wear certain tiaras.
We all know her as Meghan Markle, and most still refer to her by her given name. Same way we still call Duchess Catherine Kate Middleton, you know? But once Meghan married Harry, her name sort of went away. She's officially known as Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Sussex. While she had to drop Markle as a surname, she does have a new last name, Mountbatten-Windsor. But the royal family rarely uses last names, so she'll hereby be known as Duchess Meghan or the Duchess of Sussex. We're probably still going to call her Meghan Markle, though.
The modern day royal family is not involved in the political landscape. While the monarchy is the oldest form of government in the United Kingdom, The Sovereign or Head of State (i.e., the Queen) no longer has an active political or executive role in Parliament. Instead, the role promotes national unity and pride. As such, members of the royal family have to remain very neutral when it comes to politics. They all have the ability to vote in local and national elections, but they abstain from the tradition and do not publicly endorse candidates or ballot measures. Surely they talk about it privately, but you won't see any candidate signs on the lawn at Kensington Palace.
The royal family spends a lot of time greeting and mingling with commoners (for lack of a better word). When they're going to be out and about people line the streets just to get a glimpse, or if they're lucky, some actual face time with a royal. They also host dignitaries and VIPs at the palace on a regular basis, which means they're spending plenty of time greeting and being introduced to people. So Meghan have had to learn the royal handshake, according to the royal rules. Direct contact with the person, a firm (but not painful grasp), one or two pumps of the hand (but no more than that!), and of course, a million-watt royal smile.
Listen, we can't have a member of the royal family taking a header down a flight of stairs in front of the media and all the world to see. So there are royal rules for how women in the royal family should descend a flight of stairs! As with most etiquette rules, they require the royal women to be very mindful and graceful in their movements. Men are required to put out a helping hand when their wives are descending stairs at a royal event. The women should keep their chins parallel to the ground, and if there's a banister, the hand closest should rest lightly on top of it (no death grip). Their toes should be pointed in toward the banister, so they are descending at an angle.
Have you ever looked at pictures of the royal family congregating at an event and think to yourself, "What the hell is it with all the goddamn hats?" Not that they aren't cute (most of the time). We would absolutely rock a feathered fascinator to the appropriate event if given the chance. But these royal women love their hats! So Meghan better get used to wearing one, because they are actually required attire at formal events. The Queen will typically wear a wide-brimmed hat, but the younger royals will wear those jaunty fascinators that we're fascinated with (see what we did there?). Of course, after 6 p.m. and once an event moves indoors, the hats come off and the tiaras go on.
When it comes to PDA, we have two different examples in the royal family. There's the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, who barely even touch each other when they're out and about in an official capacity. And then we have the newcomer couple, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Harry and Meghan seem SUPER into each other, and they are always holding hands or nuzzling close. We happen to think it's adorable, but the royal rules frown upon public displays of affection. Meh, some rules are meant to be broken, right? This seems like a good one to break.
It may have come as a bit of shock to Meghan that she was going to be pretty hands-off in the planning of her wedding. Royal weddings aren't really about the couple, to be honest. They're full of tradition and requirements as laid out by the royal rules. Her dress needed to be approved by the Queen, all the festivities are planned according to the royal rules, and even her bouquet had to include a certain flower. According to the royal rules, every bride's bouquet must contain myrtle. But not just any myrtle: the sprigs included in bridal bouquets dating back to Queen Victoria have come from Victoria's garden.
So, we've written quite a bit about some of the royal rules the royal family has to follow. Some of the are expected, others are a bit more surprising. Some seem super outdated, but we're not a member of the royal family so who are we to judge? But this has got to be one of the most bizarre royal rules we've ever heard. Apparently, while game night is totally fine for the royal family, there's one particular game that they're not allowed to play: Monopoly! Prince Andrew once said that the family is not allowed to play the game at home, because it gets too vicious. We can absolutely see that.
This is one of those royal rules that we totally understand, even though it's sort of morbid to think about. The rules say that heirs to the throne cannot travel together. In the past, this meant that royal couples left their children at home while they traveled abroad. But the new wave of royal families tends to travel together, and William and Kate broke with protocol when they took Prince George with them on a royal trip to Australia in 2013. For the sake of the rules, Meghan and Harry will have to travel separately from Prince George once he turns 12. As for their own family, we don't see them leaving Archie behind or traveling separately from him.
It's not uncommon for fans to give members of the royal family gifts as they're out doing meet-and-greets. You see it all the time - things like flowers, letters, stuffed animals, and the like being handed over to Harry or Meghan or Kate or William. And they always take them! Now we know that they're bound by royal rules to accept any gift given to them, no matter what it is or how bizarre. Case in point: while Meghan is home recovering and tending to Archie, Harry has been out fulfilling his royal obligations. A group of school children made some congratulations cards for the happy couple, and Harry graciously accepted them. But honestly, he probably really wanted them because they're adorable.
Every family has their own Christmas traditions, right? Sure, ours revolve around matching jammies and cookies for breakfast. But the royal family also has their own holiday traditions, and these traditions stick to the royal rules! The royal family doesn't open presents on Christmas Day. Rather, they exchange and open gifts on Christmas Eve, during tea time in the Red Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace. Christmas Day is reserved for church services as a family, and presumably spent putting a bunch of toys together for the royal kiddos.
OK, so no one actually calls Meghan Megs. But the media and majority of people do use nicknames when talking about members of the royal family. Apparently it's fine with other people do it, but no one within the royal family uses nicknames for one another. So Kate isn't Kate, she's Catherine. William isn't Will or Wills, he's William. But we wonder how they handle Harry? His real name is Henry, so Harry is definitely a nickname. But would he even know you were talking to him if you called him Henry?!
What's your least favorite of the royal rules Meghan Markle has to follow as a Duchess?