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The royal family is known to have a strict set of etiquette rules that must be followed. Many of these rules have been passed down to Queen Elizabeth by previous generations, but it’s clear in the modern day that some of these rules have grown to be a little outdated. Luckily, many of the women who married into the Royal family have learned how to respectfully break boundaries and set a new standard when it comes to being a Royal and following code. Follow along for all the times that Princess Diana, Duchess Kate and Duchess Meghan broke the Royal code:
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On the day she became a princess, Kate decided that she should do her own wedding makeup rather than turning to a professional. This is a decision most brides would cringe at, but Kate pulled it off and presented a nice soft, natural look for her walk down the aisle that just happened to broadcast to millions of viewers.
Meghan Markle’s engagement ring is gorgeous but surprisingly untraditional. While diamonds are always a go-to for engagement rings, the royals tend to prefer gemstones. Kate Middleton wears the late Princess Diana’s ring which was a sapphire, and this was also the preferred choice for The Queen Mother and Princess Anne. Other royals like Sarah Ferguson and Princess Margaret sported a ruby engagement ring.
Princess Diana was not afraid to get her hands dirty, especially when it came to charitable work that she was passionate about! She supported many charities throughout her life like any royal does, but Diana loved to get in the center of the action as well. She walked across a partially cleared minefield to spread awareness, visited Brazilian AIDS orphans when the disease was not well understood and shook hands with people that had HIV with no hesitation. “HIV does not make people dangerous to know,” the gracious princess said. “So you can shake their hands and give them a hug: Heaven knows they need it.”
There’s a reason we never read any interviews from the royal family in our favorite magazines. They like their privacy, and they like to control what information is made public knowledge. While it isn’t completely unprecedented (Kate Middleton was on the cover of British Vogue), it’s definitely not common. Before the two even announced their engagement, Markle spoke to Vanity Fair about her relationship with Prince Harry. She said: “I can tell you that at the end of the day I think it’s really simple. We’re two people who are really happy and in love. We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news. And I was working during that whole time, and the only thing that changed was people’s perception. Nothing about me changed. I’m still the same person that I am, and I’ve never defined myself by my relationship.”
Princess Diana was a fashion icon and made bold decisions with her style that many royals had never done before. She donned leggy mini dresses, diamond chokers and revealing necklines that certainly broke the Queen’s dress code of formality and modesty. Diana’s style was definitely a huge part of her allure and she often graced the cover of women’s magazines with her stunning selections, Vogue included!
Kate and William decided to ignore the status of royal family connections and instead named their good friends Zara Tindall and Oliver Baker as godparents to Prince George. The godparents were said to be chosen because they could provide George with a sense of normalcy.
Almost every popular royal wedding (Prince William and Kate Middleton, Princess Diana and Prince Charles, and the Queen and Prince Philip) takes place during the week, but not Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s! Not long after they went public with their engagement, the Kensington Palace announced they decided to get married on Saturday, May 19, 2018.
Kate is a woman of many talents, one of which is photography. Rather than hiring an official portrait photographer, many of the photos released of the Royal children are actually taken by Kate Middleton herself. Clearly, she finds the idea of an official portrait a little stuffy and instead favors the natural, candid moments of her children.
Unlike the royals before her, Princess Diana set a new standard when it came to interviews and was quite revealing with the press. She spoke frankly about her life and even shared details of her marriage by stating, “A woman’s instinct is a very good one; obviously I had knowledge of it from people who minded and cared about our marriage … There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” She also admitted to the press that she was having an affair with James Hewitt and stated, “Yes, I adored him. Yes, I was in love with him. But I was very let down.”
For Christmas 2017, Meghan Markle made history after she was invited to spend the holidays with Prince Harry and the royal family. In 2010 Kate Middleton famously wasn’t allowed to spend Christmas with the royal family even though she and Prince William were engaged at the time because the royal protocol is that only spouses are allowed to attend the Queen’s festivities at her private residence in Norfolk. According to online reports, Meghan was invited this year because Prince Harry asked the Queen to make an exception.
A strict royal rule is that official heirs to the throne should not fly with those in succession in case anything were to happen to the plane. This means that Kate and William should not be traveling with their children, who are in succession to the throne. This rule, however, has been broken by Kate and William who have opted to travel with their children on many different occasions.
After announcing her separation from Prince Charles, Diana definitely did not disappear from the public eye or become a topic of disinterest. She enjoyed her life as a single mom and was spotted on various occasions dating other wealthy men. Dodi Al Fayed was one of Diana’s more serious flings and she and Prince William even vacationed with him in Saint Tropez during the summer of 1997. Dodi was also was in the car with Diana when she was killed in a tragic Paris car crash on August 31 later that year.
Kate Middleton always shocks the world when she steps out after giving birth looking absolutely flawless with perfectly curled hair, a slim figure and even wearing heels. Many have questioned how ethical it is to have Kate whisked away for a photoshoot so quickly after giving birth and clearly it’s a practice that Meghan doesn’t agree with. The Duchess of Sussex opted out of the traditional photoshoot and instead, gave a pre-organized photoshoot a few days after the birth of Prince Archie to give herself time to relax and rejuvenate before being back in the public eye.
An interesting fashion trick to note about Kate Middleton is that she doesn’t deter from wearing an outfit twice! It makes her relatable and just like everyone else. If she has a favorite piece, it’s definitely expected that she’ll step out wearing it on different occasions with a slight shift in accessories or hairstyle.
Many royals preceding Princess Diana were quite aloof about their personal lives and preferred to share surface details rather than delve into deep-rooted issues. Diana, however, broke this royal standard and opened up about her own mental health struggles and her past of battling an eating disorder. She confessed to Martin Bashir that the stress of faking a publicly intact marriage caused her to spiral. “That’s like a secret disease … You inflict it upon yourself because your self-esteem is at a low ebb, and you don’t think you’re worthy or valuable … It’s a repetitive pattern which is very destructive to yourself.” Her honesty definitely served the world well and opened up the conversation about mental health struggles that was previously viewed as taboo. Her story is also the reason her sons Prince William and Harry advocate so passionately for mental health to this day.
The royal family is known for their polished and proper ways, especially when it comes to grooming. Kate Middleton never steps out without her shiny locks perfectly coiffed or her updos tucked into a sheer hairnet, which she most likely learned from her role model Queen Elizabeth. Markle, however, has proved that these prim and proper hairstyles are a royal tradition of the past and has recently stepped out on two separate occasions with her hair twisted into a loose, wispy bun with pieces left out to frame her face. The look is still undeniably elegant, but we’re not sure the Queen would see the style like this based on her own hairstyle track record!
A shoe style that the Queen absolutely detests is wedge heeled shoes, but that didn’t stop Kate Middleton from favoring the summery sandal! We definitely don’t blame her because a wedge heel provides comfort while still appearing polished and elegant. Unfortunately, it seems that the Queen may have had a talk with Kate because we haven’t seen her wear them nearly as often in recent years.
Of all the surprising moves of Princess Diana, the one that shocked the world the most was that she enrolled Prince William and Harry in public school! Prince William attended nursery school at age 3 and was the first heir to the British throne to not start his education at home in the palace, but rather in a public setting with other children. Prince Harry followed suit years later and William was captured earlier this year escorting his own son Prince George to his first day of public school.
It’s an unspoken protocol that the royals support local fashion brands based out of the UK! Both Queen Elizabeth and Kate Middleton helped to put multiple British brands on the map by rocking local garments on a regular basis and helping to get British fashion brands in the public eye. Meghan Markle, however, has proven that the majority of her wardrobe is Canadian-based and has no shame to rock pieces from the country in which she worked for many years.
Something refreshing about Kate and William’s relationship is that they aren’t afraid to show a little PDA. They aren’t timid about showing their affection for one another with a subtle hand hold or occasional hug. It’s nothing over the top and always with dignity, but it undeniably broke the royal mold that spouses should not touch each other in public.
Princess Diana was known as the “people’s princess” and consistently exuded an approachable and compassionate nature. Prior to Diana, it was protocal that royals must never sink down to the level of a commoner or non-Royal and always uphold a high status of privilege. Princess Diana abandoned this royal code and was often seen crouching to be at eye-level to seem equal to children, the elderly and the ill. “The royal family used to say that everyone had to be deferential to them. But Diana said, ‘If someone might be nervous of you or you’re speaking to a very young child or a sick person, get yourself on their level,'” Ingrid Stewart, editor of Majesty magazine, wrote.
Denim isn’t completely off the table with royals, and most notably, when Kate joined the family we noticed a subtle transition into more casual streetwear when appropriate. Kate, however, often opts for polished dark denim in a tailored skinny fit that comes across rather professional. Markle definitely has her own approach when it comes to denim and has been spotted on multiple occasions wearing distressed styles! Even on her first royal appearance with Prince Harry, the trendy star rocked faded jeans with slits the knees and a stringy, raw hemline. Although we love this edgy, casual look on Markle, we’re not certain the Queen would say the same!
As a Royal woman, it’s easy to assume that Kate Middleton would have a wardrobe full of designer clothes, but this isn’t actually the whole truth! While she definitely favors high-end fashion brands, she also loves to mix in an affordable piece occasionally. One of her favorite high street brands is Zara, which is where this white blazer was purchased from.
Princess Diana’s greatest wish was that her children would grow up in an environment that was as normal as possible. She took her sons Prince William and Prince Harry to get dinner at McDonald’s, rode the bus and subway with them and allowed them to wear casual jeans and ball caps. She also allowed them to pursue their adventurous sides by taking them white-water rafting, on bike rides and even to Disneyland where they waited in lines just like everyone else! She exposed her children to homeless shelters, charities, and hospitals and encouraged them to learn the privilege of their position and how to use it to help others. “She very much wanted to get us to see the rawness of real life,” Prince William told ABC News in 2012.
Queen Elizabeth is known for her bright, eccentric wardrobe and almost always steps out wearing a bold pop of color. The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton has seemingly followed suit and tends to lean towards colorful pastels and bright pieces within her own wardrobe! Meghan Markle, however, has proved with her latest public appearances that she will continue to stay true to her own love of neutrals and black. We think she looks totally chic and minimalist with this head-to-toe black ensemble, but we’re not sure the Queen would say the same!
While Kate may be a Duchess and fly on private airlines quite often, that wasn’t always the case. She famously shunned a private jet and flew on an EasyJet flight back in 2012 when visiting the French Alps with Prince William.
The Queen is almost always seen in one of her signature hats and a set of gloves. She keeps the gloves on even when shaking hands at events. Diana, however, dropped the practice. “She abandoned the royal protocol of wearing gloves because she liked to hold hands when visiting people or shake hands and have direct contact,” PEOPLE shared. “ She also stopped wearing hats because she said, ‘You can’t cuddle a child in a hat.’”
It’s an unspoken rule that couples in the royal family do not hold hands or touch in public. According to a royal etiquette expert, Myka Meier, this is because when a royal couple like Prince William and Kate Middleton are making a public appearance they “are working representatives of British Monarchy,” so they want to present a professional appearance. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have now broken this rule on several occasions. The first time we saw it happen was during their appearance at the Toronto Invictus Games and they’ve continued to show PDA ever since.
A rule of the royal protocol is that it is prohibited to give hugs or have physical contact with members of the public. It’s typically expected that royals don’t go past a handshake when it comes to greeting, but that doesn’t mean Kate hasn’t broken the rule a time or two to hug a little one.
It was customary for decades that royal births occurred at home up until the 1977 birth of the first of Queen Elizabeth’s grandchildren, Peter Phillips. Lady Diana also opted to skip out on the at-home-birth tradition and started one of her own at Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital. She and Prince Charles introduced William and Harry to the world on the steps outside Lindo Wing, which is a tradition that William and Kate followed suit with when introducing their own children to the world.
Arguably the most shocking thing about Meghan Markle is the fact that she’s been married before! While it’s not against any law or formal rule in the British monarchy, it’s definitely unusual. In the past, it wasn’t allowed. Remember when Princess Margaret had to end her relationship with Peter Townsend because he was a divorcee? There was also Edward VIII who had to abdicate in order to follow through with his marriage to Wallis Simpson. Meghan was previously married to producer Trevor Engelson. They began dating in 2004, got married in Ocho Rios, Jamaica on September 10, 2011, and later divorced in August 2013.
Since the royal family is often traveling and attending public events, many royal parents decide to hire a full-time nanny to care for the children and provide a little parental relief. Kate Middleton, however, refused a full-time nanny and decided to take many of the parental duties on herself to raise her children. The only time the royal duo uses a nanny is when they are attending royal engagements.
Despite being from a wealthy family and having the title of Lady Diana Spencer prior to marrying Prince Charles, this didn’t mean Diana didn’t know the value of hard work. She worked as a nanny and a nursery school teacher in London prior to becoming Royal, which made her the first royal bride to have had a paying job before her engagement.
Not only is this Meghan’s second marriage which is very unusual for a royal relationship, but she’s also considered to be just an ordinary person from America which is definitely breaking the mold. True, she’s a famous actress which meant she was in the public eye prior to meeting Prince Harry, but unlike Kate Middleton who comes from a posh British family, Meghan is basically just a ‘normal’ person who has raised in a middle-class home.
Instead of hiring a nanny when Kate’s firstborn child, George, was born, her mother Carole Middleton moved in with her to help. The first-time grandmother traveled to Anglesey to help with Prince George while Prince William returned to work as a RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot.
While Princess Diana was obviously a huge people person and loved to attend public appearances, it was her children William and Harry that always came first. Sometimes she was forced to leave her boys with the nannies, but she’d often try to “arrange her schedule to match the boys’,” Katrine Ames wrote of her parenting in Newsweek.
There is one fashion rule that all royal women tend to follow and that’s to use either clutch bags or purses with a small strap. This is so that they can avoid shaking hands with people if they don’t want to. According to etiquette expert William Hanson, it’s protocol “that you do not extend your hand to any member of the royal family (blood royal or those who have married into the family) unless their hand extends first.” During one of her first appearances since announcing their engagement, Markle was seen toting a tote bag so her hands were free to shake everyone’s hand.
Kate broke years of tradition when she allowed Prince William to be in the room when she gave birth to Prince George and their two children that followed. For a moment as important as childbirth, Kate believed that it was necessary for William to be involved with the entire process despite royal protocol.
The royal staff was very taken aback by Lady Diana for her casualness and tendency to act like a commoner. According to her royal chef, Darren McGrady, Diana would occasionally wander down to the kitchen and eat with the staff, which was something “the rest of the Royals would never do.” This proved that Diana didn’t care much about obliging to the strict royal rulebook and that she saw her staff as her equals, not servants.
Similar to the purse of choice, wearing pantyhose is not a fashion rule that’s set in stone, but it’s been a long-held tradition upheld by all the women before her including Queen Elizabeth and Kate Middleton. Meghan Markle has been photographed not wearing pantyhose on several occasions, most notably in her and Harry’s engagement photocall.
Since Kate didn’t grow up in the aristocracy, she’s used to doing simple everyday tasks by herself, like picking up groceries. While living in Anglesey, Kate was known as a regular at the grocery store Waitrose and made an effort to do her own food shopping for her and William.
All royals were entitled to choose a custom-designed engagement ring, prior to Diana that is! The 19-year old bride-to-be opted for the practical route and selected her ideal ring from a Garrard jewelry catalog. The stunning ring was made of 14 solitaire diamonds that sat around a 12-carat sapphire and was set in white gold. The legendary ring got passed down throughout the generations and is the ring that Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton wears now.
While it isn’t a deal breaker to not be an Anglican and belong to the Church of England, it’s definitely out of the ordinary that someone who is not a member would marry into the family. According to People, “in order to remain in the line of succession, members of the royal family cannot be Catholic.” In the past, it has always been forbidden for royals to marry a Roman Catholic, but in 2015 an amendment was made to the Act of Settlement of 1701 which allowed for interfaith marriage.
For their first year of marriage, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge opted to live in Anglesey by renting out Bordorgan Hall, a country house and estate. They said an emotional farewell once they gave birth to Prince George. “This island has been our first home together, and it will always be an immensely special place for us both,” William said of their decision to move.
Even on a day as traditional as a white wedding, Princess Diana found a way to cause a stir! Unlike the royals to marry before her, Diana decided to adjust the words in her vows and chose to abandon the previous statement that said she would “obey” Prince Charles. The bride ditched royal protocol and instead promised to “love, comfort, honor and keep” her husband. The controversial move was later followed by Kate Middleton as she married Prince William nearly three decades later.
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