14 Times Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Romance Broke Royal Protocol

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
PA Images

Who knew the royal family was so strict?

Now that she’s engaged to Prince Harry, you probably know everything there is to know about Meghan Markle, the former Suits star-turned-future Duchess of Sussex. The 36-year old is no stranger to the spotlight, and neither is her fiancé, having been born into the royal family and raised in a palace. But how much do you know about them as a couple? And more importantly, how much do you know about all the rules they’ve broken since they got together?

It should come as no surprise that the royal family lives by oodles and oodles of rules, many of which we mere commonfolk will never know about. Some of them, though, are easy to spot -- especially when they’re being broken by Harry and Meghan. Before the couple ties the knot on May 19, take a look at all the ways they’ve broken royal protocol (*ahem* and upset the Queen, perhaps?) since they fell in love. 

1. The couple lived together before marriage
Harry and Meghan are currently living in Nottingham Cottage, a 1,300-square-foot home on the grounds of Kensington Palace. It was previously considered taboo for royal couples to live together before marriage, but the rule has recently become more lax. Prince William and Kate Middleton also lived together before their nuptials. 

2. Meghan was previously married (and is now divorced)
Meghan was married to producer Trevor Engelson in 2011 before getting divorced in 2013. Usually, members of the royal family are not allowed to marry divorcees. In the past, Princess Margaret -- Queen Elizabeth II’s sister -- had to break up with Peter Townsend because he was divorced, and King Edward VIII actually abdicated the throne in order to marry Wallis Simpson, another divorcée. 

3. Harry asked the press to stop harassing Meghan while they were dating
It’s unusual for the royal family to issue press releases about personal matters such as this, but the prince felt the need to ask the press to leave Meghan alone last fall, stating that he hoped that "fair-minded people will understand why he has felt it necessary to speak publicly."

4. They show way more PDA than others royal couples
Harry and Meghan are frequently photographed holding hands or hugging each other, while William and Kate hardly ever show any public displays of affection. Similarly, members of the royal family traditionally keep their distance from the public (with the exception of the late Princess of Wales), while Meghan regularly hugs people that she meets during royal events. 

5. Meghan’s wardrobe is far more nontraditional than past royal brides
She rocks the messy bun on occasion, and didn’t even wear stockings for the couple’s engagement photos. Scandalous! 

6. Meghan signed a young girl’s autograph book
Typically, royals aren’t allowed to sign autographs for security reasons -- mostly so people won’t forge their signatures. Meghan, however, wrote a note to 10-year-old girl last January. 

7. They won't be serving traditional cake at their wedding
Instead of a fruitcake, the newly married couple will serve a lemon elderflower cake with buttercream frosting and covered in fresh flowers, made by Claire Ptak, American pastry chef and owner of Violet Cakes London.

8. Meghan is political
Members of the royal family are encouraged not to make statements about today’s political climate. At the first-ever Royal Foundation Forum, though, Meghan spoke about her passion for women’s empowerment and the #MeToo movement.

9. The bride will be giving a speech at the wedding reception
While typically the best man gives a toast, Meghan plans to speak during the wedding reception, to be held at Windsor Castle following the ceremony. She plans to pay an “affectionate” tribute to her new husband, Prince Harry, as well as thank Queen Elizabeth II for hosting them. 

10. Meghan spent Christmas with the royal family
Typically, only spouses are invited to spend Christmas at Sandringham with the family, as well as attend Christmas Day mass at St. Mary Magdalene Church. This means fiancées are not invited -- until now. Apparently, Harry was granted permission to invite Meghan. He told BBC Radio 4 the following week that she “really enjoyed it” and the “family loved having her there.”

11. The couple is getting married in May
Spring weddings are great -- except when you’re a royal and it’s seen as taboo. Queen Victoria, Prince Harry’s great-great-great grandmother, felt that it was unlucky to marry during the fifth month. As the superstition goes, “Marry in May, and rue the day.”

12. Meghan spoke openly about her relationship with Harry
As the cover girl of the October 2017 issue of Vanity Fair, Meghan opened up about her private life with Harry, which is rare, especially before the couple is engaged.

“We’re two people who are really happy and in love,” she said. “We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news, and I was working during that whole time, and the only thing that changed was people’s perception. Nothing about me changed. I’m still the same person that I am, and I’ve never defined myself by my relationship.”

13. Meghan isn’t Anglican
The future royal has never spoken publicly about what her religious beliefs are, but we do know that she went to an all-girls Catholic school in Los Angeles growing up. She was recently baptized and confirmed in the Church of England prior to the wedding.

14. Harry designed Meghan’s engagement ring...without gemstones
It’s normal for members of the royal family to have gemstones in their engagement rings, like Princess Diana’s ring (now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge), which is a 12-carat sapphire. Even Queen Victoria’s ring was made of emeralds, rubies, and diamonds. Instead, Harry opted for all diamonds -- one large stone from Botswana and two smaller diamonds taken from his mother’s collection.