Prince Harry and his American wife are changing things up in more ways than you might think. From getting married on a weekend in May (cue the gasps) to not being afraid to show a lot of PDA, Meghan Markle is out to prove she's not going to be a traditional bride.
So what does this mean for the British royal family? In some ways, the addition of Meghan — who in the past would have been a very unconventional British royal — is shaking things up at Buckingham Palace. Queen Elizabeth and the other royals of her generation are often thought of as cold and reserved — and, like Princess Diana, Meghan is a departure from that. While Harry is sure Meghan and his mother would have been best of friends, it's obvious that Meghan's lively and loving spirit — like Diana's — will do much to endear her to the British public.
In the future, we can only hope to see Prince Harry and Meghan breaking more royal rules together; so far, it's been fun to watch! And now that the pair has said "I do," your guess is as good as ours as to what new and exciting traditions of their own they'll decide to start.
Keep scrolling to see all the times Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have broken royal protocol.
Meghan chose an opaque, matte pink nail polish.
Knowledgeable royal watchers will know that it's against dress code to wear bright, flashy nail polish colors. For example, Queen Elizabeth's favorite shade is Essie's Ballet Slippers, and it's been her go-to barely-there pink polish for going on 30 years. While Meghan Markle's rosy varnish technically falls within royal protocol, it's the perfect example of the Duchess of Sussex finding a way to let her spunky personality shine through.
Meghan's impeccable manicure perfectly complemented her similarly colored outfit: a pale pink trench coat dress by the Canadian brand Nonie, matching Dior heels, and a simple clutch by Mulberry. As Meghan continues to shine in her new role, it's inspiring to see her put her own modern spin on royal traditions.
Meghan wore an off-the-shoulder dress to the Trooping of the Colour.
Meghan looked stunning at her Trooping of the Colour debut wearing an elegant pale pink Carolina Herrera dress. She accessorized her beautiful frock with a Philip Treacy hat that perfectly matched the hue of her shift. Though the gown flattered Meghan's delicate neck, the shoulder-baring style apparently broke royal protocol. "Fashion tradition usually dictates that royal women do not wear off-shoulder or other more revealing styles," The Sun wrote.
And Meghan wasn't the only royal who broke protocol during the queen's birthday celebrations. As he did for his wedding, Prince Harry opted not to shave, despite wearing his military uniform. But rules were made to be broken, and we think the Duke and Duchess of Sussex looked smashing.
Meghan Markle gave a speech at her wedding.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding was full of sweet surprises — including hidden tributes to Princess Diana. It also reportedly featured a royal-protocol-breaking wedding speech from Meghan herself. The bride is usually silent on her wedding day, with the father of the bride making a speech at the reception.
After much back and forth, Meghan's father ultimately decided not to attend her wedding due to health issues, so there was no male relative to make a speech on her behalf. Meghan's mother, Doria, could have stepped in — but being the rule breaker that she is, Meghan opted to give a toast herself.
Though we don't have official transcripts from her wedding reception (and phones were not allowed), guests revealed that she referred to her new husband as "My Prince." What a sweet (and very spot-on) nickname!
Prince Harry didn't shave for his wedding.
Prior to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding, one question we had for the groom was whether he would shave. According to royal protocol, Harry would have to shave if he wanted to get married in uniform. Obviously, the prince didn't shave, which is perhaps a sign of the uptight royal family loosening up.
"He's not able to wear his Royal Horse Guards uniform with a beard," Hugo Vickers, a royal biographer, told Press Association. "He does [wear his uniform even though he hasn't shaved] sometimes, but they don't like it."
That said, the Queen seems to have made an exception for her reported favorite grandson, and we think Harry still looks as dapper as ever.
Meghan Markle spent Christmas with the royal family at Sandringham.
When Kensington Palace confirmed that Meghan would be spending the holidays with Prince Harry and the rest of the royal family at Sandringham, it was a break from tradition. Usually, only spouses of royal family members — not boyfriends, girlfriends, or even fiancées — are allowed to engage in the Queen's Christmas festivities.
Back in 2010, not even Kate Middleton, who was then engaged to Prince William, was allowed to join the rest of the royal family for Christmas — and that was after almost seven years of the couple dating! Though it's been reported that Prince Harry asked Queen Elizabeth to make an exception for Meghan, we might never know if it was Harry's pleas that changed the Queen's mind. Some avid royal followers believe Prince Harry is the Queen's favorite grandchild, so it's possible that Prince Harry's fiancée is the only woman for whom the Queen would change the rules.
While that's all speculation, what we do know is that Meghan looked to be fitting in nicely with the rest of the royal family. She put her princess lessons to the test while curtsying for the Queen, and although some were not impressed with her curtsying skills, we'd still give her an A for effort. We'd probably pass out due to sheer stage fright if we had to curtsy for, of all people, the Queen!
Meghan and Harry are not afraid of a little (or a lot) of PDA.
In the handful of public appearances that the royal couple has made, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are more than happy to show their affection for each other — and that's great! But traditionally, members of the royal family refrain from holding hands or kissing because they're technically working as representatives of the British monarchy, royal etiquette expert Myka Meier explains. That said, there is no official rule that bars royals from showing affection in public.
Though Prince Harry could one day become king, he's fifth in line to the throne behind his father, Prince Charles, his brother, Prince William, his nephew, Prince George, and his niece, Princess Charlotte. When Kate Middleton gives birth to her third child, Prince Harry will move even further down the line of succession, so it's very likely that he will never have to rule. Prince Harry might be more willing to be a less "traditional" royal because his actions (though in this case, we don't think they're inappropriate at all!) will most likely never be called into question were he to become king.
Of course, that doesn't mean Prince William and Kate are never affectionate with each other. Considering they've been known each other and have been together for more than a decade, we're sure their relationship is solid. And every now and then, the two do get cozy in public — and it warms our hearts.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are getting married on a weekend in May.
Though this might not seem like a big deal (in fact, it might be welcome because it means we don't have to take off from work to watch the wedding), royal weddings are traditionally held on a weekday. Prince William and Kate Middleton's April 29, 2011 nuptials took place on a Friday and Prince Diana's walk down the aisle on July 29, 1981 was on a Wednesday.
On top of that, Prince Harry and Meghan tied the knot in May — a sign of bad luck, according to Queen Victoria. "Marry in May, and rue the day," she believed, refusing to let any of her children — or any other young royal ladies, for that matter — marry in May.
But is there any truth to the old superstitious rhyme? Queen Elizabeth's eldest grandson, Peter Phillips, married his Canadian bride, Autumn Kelly, in St. George's Chapel — the same venue Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have chosen — on May 17, 2008. Almost 10 years later, the couple has two children together, and they appear to be happily married. Perhaps the saying isn't true after all!
Meghan Markle is American and a divorcée.
The last time an heir to the British throne married an American was in 1936, when Edward VIII famously abdicated the throne to marry twice-divorced socialite Wallis Simpson. (This storyline recently appeared in the 2010 film The King's Speech, which saw Colin Firth play Edward's younger brother — the future King George VI.) Since then, British royals were strongly discouraged from marrying someone who was divorced. That includes Queen Elizabeth's younger sister, Princess Margaret, who faced her family's disapproval when she raised the issue of marrying the divorced Peter Townsend.
However, in 2002, the General Synod, which is the body that governs the Church of England, updated their stance on the issue, acknowledging that marriages "regrettably do fail." Under "exceptional circumstances" a divorced person could marry in the church during their former spouse's lifetime, the Synod said, but they left the decision of solemnizing the union up to the minister. When Prince Charles married Camilla Parker-Bowles in 2005, the couple had a civil ceremony rather than religious ceremony, so they did not have to confront this issue.
One last obstacle Meghan must overcome is being baptized and confirmed in the Church of England. Up until 2013, there was a rule in the books than banned members of the royal family from marrying someone who was Catholic. Meghan's religious affiliation isn't known, but she did attend Catholic school as a young girl, and her first marriage to Engelson was reportedly a Jewish ceremony. Previously, if Meghan were not to convert, Prince Harry would then forfeit his spot in the line of succession. But now that British laws have been updated, any royal in the immediate line of succession can marry anyone of any religious affiliation — unless they are one of the first six in line, in which case they need permission from Queen Elizabeth to marry.