Meghan Markle Accidentally Broke Royal Protocol When She Started Dating Prince Harry

When Meghan Markle first started dating Prince Harry, she wasn’t entirely schooled in some of the royal protocol and broke one rule unknowingly. Now that she knows the rules, she’s still breaking this one — giving hugs. Markle seems to have ditched the formalities in favor of a more laid back and down to earth approach.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle | Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage

Markle made this mistake when she and Prince Harry were dating

Back when Markle was dating Prince Harry, according to her friend, the now duchess was keen on greeting palace staff with a hug, something that’s typically not done.

Markle’s friend, TV executive Bonnie Hammer, revealed that when the then-actress was dating Harry, she would hug the staff at Kensington Palace. Hammer shared with Hello! magazine: “I heard a story from her very early in their dating and Meghan would come up to the palace and she’d get out of the car and she’d have a bag or two. The guards would basically greet her and kind of walk her in.”

She continued: “After the first couple of times I guess she started giving a hug to the guys, which wasn’t exactly protocol and at some point somebody said to her, ‘people don’t usually do that’ and she said while shrugging ‘I’m American, I hug.’”

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While in Johannesburg today, The Duchess of Sussex visited Victoria Yards, which celebrates the power of community, bringing local artisans and “makers” together to rebuild, support and learn from each other on a holistic level. It was an exceptional afternoon where The Duchess had the chance to connect with the children and founders of the phenomenal programme for kids’ development Timbuktu in The Valley. She was also struck by the local denim designer who founded eponymous brand Tshepo who shared this info about the logo for his line: “The crown on my jeans represents the three ladies who raised me. Enjoy wearing this crown.” Such a beautiful and touching sentiment! Artists, artisans, sculptors, metal workers and carpenters are all part of the fabric of Victoria Yards, but it also utilizes the power of The DICE programme which supports several other local organisations in their work with marginalised youth and women. These include: 94 Colours (run by The Duchess’ guides for the day, Hector and Sibusiso), CDP (a development programme for young unemployed and marginalised women that provides training to start creative enterprises), Enke (rebuilds the confidence and self-belief of unemployed youth through training and practical experience), 26’10 South (an architecture firm designing a local youth centre) and ReimagiNation (works with local secondary school students to create a social and creative enterprising mindset). Stay tuned for more updates from this special afternoon… #RoyalVisitSouthAfrica

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Prince Harry and Markle displayed this warmth on their tour of Africa

When Prince Harry and Markle visited Africa for a royal tour in September, many noted that the Sussexes greeted those they met with warm hugs and reportedly wanted to do away with royal formalities.

That approach, coupled with Markle recycling her outfits and going without her flashy engagement ring, allowed the focus to be on their visit and the work they were doing.

Vanity Fair reporter Katie Nicholl noted that, according to a source, Prince Harry and Markle planned to “meet as many South Africans as possible and make a difference… This isn’t a holiday and they don’t want it to look like one. Their Royal Highnesses want to do some serious work on the ground, particularly at a community level.”

Prince Harry and Markle reportedly requested “minimal fuss, formality, and protocol” during the tour and wanted people to address them by their first names.

Markle typically favors hugs as a greeting

Royal fans were quick to note the awkward moment when the duchess went to hug One Young World Summit founder Kate Robertson, who started to curtsy during the October 2019 event.

The much talked about moment had many wondering if Markle had broken royal protocol, but Myka Meier, author of Modern Etiquette Made Easy, explained to People that it’s best to let the royal take the lead.

Meier noted: “With royal protocol, it’s most respectful to wait until the royal extends a handshake, touch or a hug, and you follow their lead. While although Meghan was initially greeted with a curtsy, which would have been a respectful way to greet a member of the royal family in this situation, it’s clear Meghan was trying to show warmth through her offer to hug as a greeting.”

Meier added: “In this case, Meghan initiated a hug and the woman [Robertson] followed suit, which was perfectly fine. Sometimes it is all a matter of missed timing, not necessarily a break in protocol, and perhaps an earlier curtness would have allowed for both a curtsy and a hug after, but only if the senior royal initiated it.”