Royal Etiquette: How Meghan Markle Will Be Expected to Act Once She Marries Into the Royal Family

By now, you’ve surely heard that Meghan Markle is adjusting her life to become part of the royal family. More than anything, that means she has to undergo etiquette training to ready herself for life with Prince Harry. But there is more to becoming a royal than learning to curtsy and wearing pretty hats. There are a plethora of royal rules that explain how Meghan Markle must act once she marries into the royal family.

For starters: She should learn from others before her

Markle can learn from Kate Middleton. | Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Meghan isn’t the first “commoner” to marry into the British royal family. So in addition to the list of rules and behaviors she must adapt, she can also look at who before her has successfully acclimated to royal life — and who hasn’t. For example, her future sister-in-law Duchess Catherine — aka Kate Middleton — made many adjustments to fit the royal role while being married to Prince William. (Although, she’s also had some “hiccups” along with way that Meghan can surely learn from.)

Next: From hiccups, to words Meghan can no longer utter.

What she can never say

Meghan Markle close up tinted lip

There are some things royals aren’t allowed to say in public. | AFP Photo/Pool/Adrian Dennis

Anyone in the public eye has to be a little extra mindful of what they say, for fear of unwanted scrutiny. But if you’re a royal, there are certain words that are straight up banned from being said. So of course, Meghan is going to have to get used to not using words like “pardon” or improperly using “tea” on a regular basis. (More on tea a little later.)

Next: What she says ‘online’ will change as well.

Her social media presence …

Markle’s social media accounts have disappeared since the engagement. | Meghan Markle via Instagram

This may seem like more of a modern-day adjustment than an old-school lesson in etiquette. Nevertheless, Meghan Markle had to delete her social media accounts when she got engaged to Prince Harry. Why? The Independent explains to us: “Senior members of the monarchy have official Twitter and Instagram accounts, run by the social media teams of their households, which do not normally feature personal tweets or posts.”

Next: Speaking of ‘personal’ …

And her interview presence

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry laughing

She will have to become much more reserved in public. | Andy Stenning/AFP/Getty Images

Remember the glamorous interview Meghan did with Vanity Fair where she gushed about how she and Harry are so in love? While it seemed perfectly normal for a bubbly young actress to conduct such an interview, royal experts were less than impressed with how loosely she spoke about the relationship. Going along with the lack of social media going forward, the monarchy likely prefers that she remains a bit more private going forward.

Next: Privacy extends to addressing the public.

Greeting the masses

Prince Harry (L) and fiancee Meghan Markle leave after their visit to Star Hub

The royal couple will become more formal in public. | Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

There is a list of formal rules regarding the appropriate way to greet a member of a royal family. And to keep in accordance with these long-standing views on etiquette, Meghan Markle will have to also enforce these things. So when meeting the public, there shouldn’t be any touching past a formal handshake. Embracing, putting an arm around someone, or squeezing in to take a selfie with royal watchers is considered bad form.

Next: Then, there’s the business of greeting her in-laws.

Addressing other royals

Markle needs to learn a lot of royal protocol. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Despite becoming a royal herself, there is a protocol that Meghan will have to follow when addressing other royals. There is an order of precedence that dictates how members of the royal family address each other. For this reason, Meghan has to curtsy to Kate Middleton — because she is married to the future king — and the family’s blood princesses, Beatrice and Eugenie. However, if Prince Harry is present at the time, those women have to curtsy to Meghan.

Next: While we’re on the subject of the order of precedence …

Arriving at social events

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during an official photocall to announce the engagement

The couple isn’t allowed to enter a room before William and Kate. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Once Meghan is married into the family, she will enter rooms at social events based on royal etiquette and protocol. The line of succession — or who is next in line for the throne — applies to how the royal family enters a room. So Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Phillip, would enter first, followed by the heir apparent, Prince Charles, and so on. Meghan would enter with Prince Harry, after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Next: Since we mentioned tea earlier …

Tea time

The royals take tea time very seriously. | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Tea with the royals is a big to-do. And since Meghan reportedly met the queen for tea some time ago, this is part of her etiquette training that she probably received right from the start. As one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorite hotels tells Vogue, tea with the queen comes with a lofty set of rules, from when you pour your milk to how you pronounce the word “scones.”

Next: If you think that tea sounds strict, just wait until you hear what’s for dinner.

Meals with the queen

Dinner is over when the queen says so. | Yui Mok – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Dining with the queen is even more strict than having tea. How the utensils are held is even a big deal. It is also customary that everyone’s plates are cleared when the queen herself is finished eating. If Meghan is hungry, she’ll have to get as many bites in before Queen Elizabeth — who is allegedly not much of a foodie — decides she’s done.

Next: Speaking of the queen, here’s etiquette Meghan has adapted directly from her.

The wave

Queen Elizabeth II Visits Frankfurt am Main

The Queen’s wave is part of official etiquette. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Meghan garnered a little flack after her first public appearance with Prince Harry following their engagement announcement. One reason was because of how “enthusiastic” her wave was. While this may sound silly, the Queen Elizabeth style “Windsor Wave” is a recognized part of royal family etiquette. Although this is one etiquette lesson she appears to have already mastered. Just take a look at her second public appearance with Prince Harry in January.

Next: Something else from that appearance that garnered a lot of attention.


Marlke’s bare legs caused a stir. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Another point of contention in Meghan’s first public appearance post engagement was that she wore a skirt without pantyhose. (A fashion item that Kate Middleton gave a revitalized sense of style to a couple years back.) This was one of those unwritten fashion rules that Queen Elizabeth has put into play in her long-standing reign. Will she conform to royal fashion etiquette and rock stocking like the rest of the family?

Next: While we’re talking about baring legs …

Her hemlines

Meghan Markle (right) with her close friend, Jessica Mulroney

Markle’s hemlines will get a lot lower. | Jessica Mulroney via Instagram

One piece of fashion etiquette that’s a little more strict is the length of the women’s dresses and skirts. Hemlines tend to not hit above the knee, and certainly do not creep up the thigh. A dress hem may also have weights sewn into them to prevent any embarrassing Marilyn Monroe-style incidents.

Next: Something else she can learn from Kate Middleton …

How to sit

Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle attend a street dance class

Markle will have to master the Duchess Slant. | Geoff Pugh/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Along with keeping dresses a modest length, sitting in a modest way helps a royal lady continuously look poised. So instead of sitting with legs comfortably crossed, Meghan will likely adapt what has been coined “The Duchess Slant.” This habit of sitting with knees and ankles together and slanted a bit to the side was a go-to for Princess Diana, and is a staple pose for the Duchess of Cambridge.

Next: Why head-wear will become a wardrobe staple.

Hair and hat etiquette

Meghan Markle attends Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on December 25, 2017

She has a lot more hats in her future. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Surely you noticed that the royal women wear hats on many occasions. (Meghan rocked a smart chapeau when he spent Christmas with Prince Harry and his family.) That’s because hats are a big part of fashion etiquette when it comes to daytime events, and tiaras are appropriate for formal occasions

Next: Since we’re talking about fashion etiquette …

The color wheel

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attends the Terrance Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair

She’s going to wear a lot less black. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Do a deep dive into pictures of Meghan Markle, and you will likely see that the actress likes to wear a lot of black. This will likely change as she adapts to royal fashion etiquette. According to Marie Claire, Queen Elizabeth and Kate Middleton reportedly choose the color of their outfits to coordinate with the event they are attending. Black is typically reserved for somber events, such as Remembrance Day.

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