Since officially joining the royal family in May 2018 when she and Prince Harry tied the knot, the Duchess of Sussex has continuously exhibited her individualism while living in a new world full of traditions and rules. In fact, there are many times Meghan Markle has bent royal protocol over the past year or so with her fashion sense, her words, and her warm, down-to-earth demeanor. And though some might have criticized the royal for doing things her own way, there are many others, from all across the globe, that truly appreciate every moment.
Though there's no official guidebook of royal rules and traditions that everyone is privy to, there are understood sets of protocol and such that come along with being a member of the royal family. For women, according to Harper's Bazaar, that seems to involve dressing modestly and acting deferential, unobtrusive, elegant, and refined. Markle is all those things, of course, but she's also bringing her own flair to her role as the Duchess of Sussex.
In her own way, many royal fans have noted similarities between Markle and Prince Harry's late mother, Princess Diana, who also forged her own identity in the royal family while remaining true to the role of a member of the monarchy. In fact, these moments below perfectly highlight how exactly Markle has shown that she's true to herself.
When She Got Married In May
Traditionally, royal couples have avoided dates in May for their nuptials, thanks to an old superstition, according to the Daily Star. "Marry in May, and rue the day," goes a nursery rhyme that apparently bothered Queen Victoria so much that she forbid her children from getting married during the spring month, according to the CBC. Clearly, Prince Harry and Markle weren't worried about the old folklore as they set their royal wedding date for May 19, 2018.
When She Stood On Her Own
When a woman marries into the royal family, traditionally there's a wedding party that includes young bridesmaids and a maid of honor. But not only did Markle break tradition by walking partway down the aisle on her own, she also set her own standard by forgoing a maid of honor, according to TIME. In fact, she didn't have anyone standing with her but Prince Harry when they tied the knot. Why? As a spokesperson for Kensington Palace told The Mirror, "She has a very close knit group of friends and did not want to choose one over the other."
When She Married Into The Royal Family As A Divorcee
Markle didn't let her 2013 divorce from producer Trevor Engleson sour her on the idea of marriage or get in the way of marrying the love her life, Prince Harry. Though she isn't the first previous divorcee to marry into the royal family, she was the first to marry in a church ceremony, according to Readers's Digest.
When She Didn't Wear A Hat
When She Closes Her Own Doors
Royals typically have someone around who is opening and closing doors for them, as etiquette expert William Hanson explained to the BBC. But during a visit to The Royal Academy, as you can see in a video that royal reporter Emily Andrews shared on Twitter, Markle doesn't wait to be waited on — she shuts the door herself.
When She Rocks Bare Legs
Apparently, as royal expert Victoria Arbiter explained to INSIDER, wearing nude colored stockings is really the Queen's "only hard, steadfast rule" rule of fashion. But Markle has brushed off the tradition more than once. First, during her engagement announcement with Prince Harry in November 2017, according to TODAY, and then again, as seen in the photo above, during a meet-and-greet at a performance of Hamilton.
When She Wears An Incredible Pantsuit
Though she looks stunning in them, pantsuits are technically not high on the list of things royal women tend to wear. For example, she looked gorgeous and sophisticated when she rocked a fitted black pantsuit for the WellChild Awards in September 2018. However, as People reported, the Queen isn't really a fan of the look, and would rather that women wear skirts and dresses for official outings.
When She Donned An Off-The-Shoulder Dress
Markle was a brand-new member of the family when she first broke fashion standards by going off-the-shoulder with the dress she wore to her first Trooping the Colour ceremony in June 2018, as Teen Vogue reported. While The Sun reported that tradition usually dictates royal women err on the side of modesty, Markle looked absolutely radiant, sophisticated, and celebratory in her pink Carolina Herrera dress. A perfect choice.
When She Gave An Autograph... Kinda
Royals are not allowed to sign autographs because of the risk of forgery, according to Business Insider, so while on a visit to Wales, Markle found a creative solution to the crowds clamoring for her signature. In January 2018, according to TIME, she approached a group of children with their signature books and signed "Hi" and the child's first name, rather than signing her own name.
When She Rocked Ripped Jeans
Most royal fans will remember Markle's appearance at the 2017 Invictus Games as it marked the first time that she and Prince Harry held hands in public. But for some who are more closely track how the royals, or soon-to-be royals in this case, present themselves, it will always be that time that Markle wore ripped jeans.
While she looked sporty and relaxed, Who What Wear reported that Markle's outfit went against royal fashion protocol, which reportedly dictates that denim should be dark, fitted, and, needless to say, likely in one piece.
When She Hasn't Been Shy With PDA
It seems that public displays of affection — aka, PDA — are "strictly off limits for royals" while on royal duty, as Grazia reported. However, Markle and Prince Harry often hold hands in public and sometimes share a very PG kiss (and it's adorable), but according to some, this may be bending the royal rules a bit.
When She Sported Dark Nails
Royal women usually wear very light pinks or beige colors on their nails — all the better to show off those gorgeous rings, right? But in December 2018, Markle appeared at the Fashion Awards to give an award to her wedding gown designer, according to Glamour, and colored her nails in a dark burgundy.
Whenever Rocked A Messy Bun
Perhaps nothing asserted Markle's style independence more than the messy bun that she chose often in the days preceding her marriage, as Glamour reported, which People noted was a break in royal fashion protocol. Though she's opted for more traditionally styled looks since then, she'll always be associated with those getaway locks and chic comfort.
When She Felt The Sand Between Her Toes
There were actually two fashion traditions that were broken on one day during the Prince Harry and Markle's state visit to Australia. While they toured Bondi Beach, Markle leaned down and took off her wedges, which she shouldn't have been wearing in the first place, according to Vanity Fair, as the Queen reportedly is not a fan of the clunky look and women in the family are generally supposed to honor her preferences.
Once free of the wedges, Markle walked the beach barefoot with her husband, something you'd likely never see another of the royals doing and, according to MSN, runs counter to royal etiquette.
Whenever She Speaks Her Mind About Social Justice
As the Head of State, according to Reader's Digest, Queen Elizabeth has to remain neutral on matters of politics, and members of her family traditionally follow the same protocol. However, both Prince Harry and Markle are known to be more expressive with their feelings about social justice and political topics.
On the Me Too and Time's Up movements, for example, Markle made a strong statement in February 2018. According to HuffPost, she said:
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.
When She Celebrated Her Baby Shower In NYC
Not only do members of the royal family typically forgo baby showers, Brits eschew them as a general rule. "Customarily, the Brits don't do baby showers," royal expert Victoria Arbiter told TODAY. "We tend to give gifts after the baby is born."
But Markle's pals stateside threw her a fun bash in New York City ahead of her May due date, which the Duchess of Sussex flew across the pond to attend, according to The Cut. But the event was one that Markle attended proudly. "Meghan coming home for a baby shower — it's absolutely in keeping with who Meghan is. She's doing it in America, where it is traditional, and she's doing it with her group of very loyal girlfriends," Arbiter told TODAY.
When She Made Sure Archie's Birth Would Be An Intimate Family Moment
The world's most anticipated royal baby arrived quietly, with an announcement that Markle had gone into labor barely an hour before the announcement of the birth, according to USA Today. That was quite unusual for a royal birth, where the hospital is usually staked out days in advance while reporters wait for any word. This time, however, there was no hospital to stake out, as Prince Harry and Markle didn't release information about where the birth would be. Additionally, she and Prince Harry opted to wait several days before revealing their son's name, meeting with reporters, and posing for photos as a new family of three.
When She Chose A Unique Name For Her Son
In choosing a name for their son, Markle and Prince Harry undoubtedly had a lot to think about. There was tradition, public opinion, input from family members, not to mention their own desires. And true to form they managed to cook up a mixture of something that honors so many of the expectations upon them while remaining true to themselves.
While the formal name of Archie "Archibald" feels a bit stiff, the couple have only opted for the short version on the baby's birth certificate, according to TODAY. They also went with the Americanized naming convention of just choosing one middle name, rather than the three that the Cambridges have bestowed on their kids. Finally, they honored the Queen by giving Archie her last name, Mountbatten-Windsor, instead of using their own title of Sussex.
When She Kept Archie's Christening Private
Markle bent and broke traditions all throughout her pregnancy, so it wouldn't have been totally out of character for her to break one more during her son Archie's christening. Back in July, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex opted to keep Archie's christening ceremony a private one, according to People. Unlike how Kate Middleton and Prince William have chosen to conduct things over the years with their three children, Markle and Prince Harry shared photos on their Instagram account after the enjoyed an "intimate" service, not allowing media to photograph them entering or exiting the chapel.
When She Guest-Edited 'Vogue'
When asked to guest-edit the massive September 2019 issue for British Vogue, Markle made sure it was all about the things that matter to her most. Nobody would have batted an eye if she'd stuck to fashion, but she chose to highlight women who are making a difference instead. She chose 15 women to grace the cover who are all advocating for important causes, such as climate change, LGBTQ right. But she also included a small mirror so readers could look at themselves and see how they're impacting the world, too.
Markle's choices, unfortunately, were met with criticism, as some questioned why she didn't select the Queen as one of the women to highlight, according to the CBC. Additionally, as royals are supposed to remain neutral on politics, some criticized her decision to highlight political figures, such as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and former First Lady Michelle Obama.
No matter what she's doing, Meghan Markle is her own person and a true one-of-a-kind that we'd all love to know.