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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s exit from the royal family became official at the end of March, but there are still a few questions about their departure that remain unanswered. This includes rules of etiquette within the ranks of the royal family that are confusing on the best of days. One of the biggest mysteries is whether Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, will have to curtsy to Kate Middleton when Prince William is on the throne.

Meghan Markle Kate Middleton
Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle | Samir Hussein/WireImage

What are the rules of etiquette when greeting a member of the royal family?

The royals have very specific rules about bowing and curtseying to each other that is based on their individual ranks. In simple terms, a royal is expected to bow or crusty to another royal if that person is higher in the line of succession.

Queen Elizabeth, for example, doesn’t have to curtsy to anyone because she is to ranking member of the royal family. Next up is Queen Elizabeth’s oldest son, Prince Charles, followed by his son, Prince William.

This part is pretty straightforward, but where it gets a little confusing is when you consider those who have married into the royal family. In those instances, the spouse of a royal, such as Camilla Parker Bowles, has the same status as their significant other when they are in the same room together.

So if William is at the same event as Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, then he should bow to Camilla. But if Charles is not present for the engagement, then Camilla has to curtsy to William as he is 2nd in line to the throne and has a higher rank than her.

That said, most members of the royal family no longer follow these rules of etiquette except when it comes to Queen Elizabeth. But even when it comes to Her Majesty, Prince Philip rarely offers her a bow when they appear in public.

When will Meghan Markle have to curtsy Kate Middleton?

After she tied the knot with Harry in 2018, Meghan was given the title as the Duchess of Sussex. She also takes on Harry’s rank whenever the two are together. Technically speaking, anyone who ranks lower than Harry should bow or curtsy to Meghan.

In turn, Meghan ranks lower than Kate and is supposed to curtsy whenever they greet each other. This is especially true when William is with Kate, as the Duchess of Cambridge takes on his rank in those instances.

Although Meghan is supposed to curtsy to Kate whenever they are in a public setting, the two rarely, if ever, follow this protocol. When Meghan took part in the royal family’s Christmas celebrations at Sandringham, for example, she and Kate curtsied to Queen Elizabeth but not to each other.

That will change, however, when William takes the throne. According to Hello Magazine, Kate will receive the title of Queen Consort and Meghan will have to curtsy to her whenever they greet each other. In fact, everyone except for William will have to bow or curtsy to Kate when she is Queen.

Does Megxit change Meghan Markle’s status in the royal family?

Harry and Meghan’s decision to leave the royal family has cast some doubts on these rules of etiquette. As part of their exit agreement, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex agreed to stop using their royal titles, which meant ditching their brand, Sussex Royal.

Although the two are not using the word “royal,” they did not technically lose any of their HRH titles. They may no longer be active within the ranks of the royal family, but Harry is still sixth in line to the throne.


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With that in mind, the rules regarding when Meghan will have to curtsy Kate still apply. It is unclear if the two will ever practice these protocols in private, but Meghan will most certainly curtsy to Kate during public events (if she ever appears in public alongside the royals again).

Meghan has not commented on the reports surrounding her standing in the royal family.