Meghan Markle is not like a regular royal, she’s a cool royal.
So when it comes etiquette typically followed by, say, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Harry‘s wife picks and chooses which ones she wants to follow—and so does her husband, for that matter. The Duke and especially the Duchess of Sussex have often broken royal protocol, more so than his brother Prince William and wife Kate Middleton, making them the most relatable royal couple in a modern U.K. society’s ceremonial monarchy, which has for centuries been bound by traditional Christian values.
For the past year, since her and Harry’s engagement, the Duchess of Sussex is very much blazing her own path as a royal with her behavior and style choices, and we are here for it.
Check out every time Meghan has broken royal protocol.
No Fiancées Allowed? Please…
In April 2018, Meghan joined Harry at the Commonwealth Youth Forum. Such events are typically reserved for royal family members, and she was just Harry’s fiancée at the time.
KGC-22/STAR MAX/IPx 2017/AP Images
Meghan spent Christmas with Harry’s family in 2017 just one month after they announced their engagement, becoming the first royal fiancée to celebrate the holiday with the British royals. Kate only spent the holidays with the royal family after her 2011 wedding to William.
In her vows at her and Harry’s royal wedding in May 2018, Meghan did not vow to obey her husband. His mother Princess Diana and sister-in-law Kate also omitted such a declaration in their own wedding vows.
In addition, Harry has chosen to wear a wedding ring, another break from tradition.
Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Meghan and Harry are probably the most outwardly affectionate couple in the British royal family, often embracing each other, exchanging looks of love and even—gasp—while in public. And judging from William and Kate’s out-of-character behavior at their cousin Princess Eugenie‘s wedding in October 2018, it looks like maybe the royal protocol of avoiding PDA may be a thing of the past.
Phil Noble/PA Wire
Interactions With Fans
While the queen limits her physical interactions with fans to handshakes, Meghan and Harry will at times go so far as to hug their fans and even take photos with them—and photos of them! During a recent visit to Sydney, Harry encountered a young girl who bore a striking resemblance to his wife. He then called Meghan over and asked the girl if he could take a photo of the two, and she happily agreed.
Meghan has in the past even granted fans autographs, another breech of royal protocol.
The Hair Thing
Meghan tends to wear her hair in a messy bun while out and about, which again defies royal protocol. It has become her signature style.
Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Royal women are supposed to sit with their legs and knees together, crossed at the ankle, again to preserve their modesty (especially if they are wearing an appropriate dress or skirt). Meghan has not always followed this tradition. At the 2018 Invictus Games opening ceremony in Sydney, she sat with her legs crossed at the knee.
Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Dresses and Skirts
Royal tradition dictates that the women in the family wear dresses or skirts while out in public. Meghan cares not for this tradition. Even Kate, who typically adheres to royal protocol more often, has showcased some stylish pants herself.
…But Not Too Short
Female royals must also ensure that their skirts are not too short. Many people felt Meghan may have crossed the line a tad with the tuxedo mini dress she wore while attending a gala performance of Hamilton with Harry in August.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
And Tights, Please
While not an official royal requirement, royal women are encouraged to preserve their modesty by wearing nude tights, aka pantyhose or nylons, with their dresses or skirts. Meghan has followed this protocol, but has also been like, This is the 21st century and you’re going to see my legs.
Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage
Royals are discouraged from wearing head-to-toe black unless they’re going to a funeral or another somber event. To this Meghan says, whatever.
In July 2018, Meghan visited Edinburgh, Scotland wearing a cross-body bag, a style not typically worn by royals in a bid to avoid touching fans while greeting them.
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images
In September, Meghan attended her first solo engagement as a royal, visiting the opening of the new Oceania art exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. She was driven by a chauffeur and when she arrived, a man opened her car door for her. She emerged from the vehicle, shook his hand and then closed the door on her own.
Meghan, who is currently pregnant with her and Harry’s first child, made history when she and Harry announced their engagement last year; She is the first person of mixed race to take a prominent place in the mostly white British royal family in centuries, reportedly, and the first American to marry into it since Harry’s great-great-uncle Edward VIII sparked a constitutional crisis that led to his abdication in 1936 by choosing twice-divorced U.S. socialite Wallis Simpson as his bride. Meghan herself is also a divorcée, and a former actress.
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