From the moment they made their first official appearance as a couple at last year’s Invictus Games in Toronto, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have shown they are unlike any royal couple who came before them. And they surely won’t have the kind of royal marriage where women (except Queen Elizabeth) are supporting players to their husbands. Everything about the lovebirds tells us they’re rewriting the rules of engagement and are going to do things their way. How do we know? Here are 15 signs that Meghan and Harry aren’t going to have a traditional royal marriage. And for more royal rulebreaking, check out these 10 Signs Harry and Meghan Will Break All the Royal Rules.
They broke the mold
Harry will be the first British royal in 81 years to marry an American (and a divorcée to boot). Meghan seems completely unfazed by her history-making role within the royal family. And for more on everyone’s favorite bride-to-be, check out the 15 Ways Meghan Keeps That “Markle Sparkle”.
They both come from “broken homes” and have had their share of failed relationships.
Meghan’s parents divorced when she was two. Harry’s parents had one of the most contentious divorces in history. Meghan divorced producer Trevor Engelson after a three-year marriage. Harry dated law student Chelsy Davy for seven years and actress Cressida Bonas for two, with both women calling it quits after being unwilling to live their lives under the royal microscope. Both Meghan and Harry understand the importance of working at a relationship to keep it alive—and seem willing to do whatever it takes regardless of what other people say.
They’re both risk-takers
Harry, who was always much more of a daredevil than his older brother, Prince William, did two tours in Afghanistan and famously said he “didn’t want to sit around on his [rear]” while [the soldiers in his regiment] were sent to the front lines.
Meghan has traveled around the world to support various charitable causes—including touring military bases to entertain American troops serving overseas. For more on the groom, check out these 25 Reasons Why Prince Harry is the Coolest Royal.
They’re not afraid to speak their truth
Harry made the shocking—and decidedly unroyal—disclosure last year that he spent nearly two decades not dealing with the death of his mother, Princess Diana, which resulted in “total chaos” in his life for several years. He went on a popular radio show in Britain and talked (gasp!) about how therapy helped him.
In Elle magazine, Meghan wrote honestly about how her “mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence,” and how she came to accept that and love herself. “To say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman.” For more on royal weddings, check out these 15 Most Lavish Royal Weddings of All Time.
They’re both feminists.
When the couple visited a community radio station in London, Prince Harry told young DJs discussing gender equality: “As males we have to do our part or it’s not going to work.” On their first trip to Wales while Meghan was speaking, she gestured to her fiancée, as said, “He’s a feminist too.” Can you imagine Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge doing such a thing?
They’re not afraid of a little PDA.
No other royal couple has ever been so touchy-feely. When Meghan and Harry first got engaged, she hung on to him for dear life any time they appeared together in public. Now that she’s gotten more comfortable, that’s been replaced by hand holding and loving gestures between the couple whenever they’re spotted together.
They’ve embraced social causes previously off-limits to royals.
At the first-ever annual Royal Foundation Forum earlier this year, Meghan and Harry appeared on stage together with William and Kate to discuss its current projects and announce future plans. Meghan spoke about the significance of the #MeToo movement while Harry proudly looked on.
“Women don’t need to find a voice, they already have one. They need to learn how to use it and people need to be encouraged to listen,” she said. “The #MeToo campaign could make such a difference.” This is something that wouldn’t have happened five short years ago.
She’s no princess bride.
Meghan is 36, and when she marries Harry will be the oldest royal bride ever to marry into the British royal family. This isn’t her first rodeo.
Harry has put chivalry before protocol.
Royal protocol calls for the wife (or fiancée) of a royal, to yield the spotlight to her husband or fiancé. That is not the case with Harry who has frequently stepped back during official engagements with Meghan and let her step forward to shake hands or be introduced first.
The Queen bent the rules for Meghan
It simply cannot be overstated what a dramatic turn of events have occurred within the royal family since Meghan and Harry’s engagement. We knew everything was going to be different when the Queen broke her ironclad rule of including only married couples at her Sandringham estate for Christmas. Lady Diana Spencer, Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker-Bowles were not invited until they married into “The Firm.” Harry asked Granny to include Meghan last year, and to everyone’s surprise, she did.
Meghan may have changed her life, but she isn’t changing who she is.
Yes, she moved to Britain and left her acting career behind to marry Harry, but Meghan has no plans to fade into the background. “I’ve never defined myself by my relationship,” she told Vanity Fair last year just before the couple announced their engagement.
They’re a package deal.
When Harry was appointed a Commonwealth Youth Ambassador by the Queen, he announced he would be carrying out his royal duties with Meghan as an equal partner in the work. It is highly unusual for someone not yet married into the Royal Family to be included in a high-profile summit like CHOGM. Meghan began carrying out royal duties immediately after the couple announced their engagement and is said to have impressed the Queen with her professionalism and work ethic all but assuring her profile within the family will continue to rise.
She’s making a speech at their wedding.
Meghan and Harry have broken plenty of royal wedding traditions, but if this comes to pass, it’s sure to raise plenty of eyebrows under those fascinators at the reception. Even though Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, is walking her down the aisle, he will not be making the traditional father of the bride speech. It’s been reported that Meghan herself is planning on making some brief remarks to mark the occasion and thank the Queen and the rest of the royal family for being so welcoming. Harry is not planning on speaking and is happy to let his bride to shine solo in the spotlight.
They’re scaling down the grandeur.
Harry and Meghan have flown coach on holiday to the French Riviera and taken public transportation to official events. They’re living at Nottingham Cottage (aka “Nott Cott”), which is smaller than the house Meghan rented while filming suits in Toronto. They’ve asked guests to forego giving wedding gifts and instead are asking they make a donation to one of seven specially selected charities. Are the royals just like us? Not quite, but compared to Prince Charles, who has someone put the toothpaste on his toothbrush every day (really!), Meghan and Harry are practically roughing it.
They’re following Princess Diana’s playbook.
Prince Harry has been very vocal about carrying on his mother’s work with AIDs and anti-landmine charities. He and William have both referenced their mother in their desire to further a national conversation on mental health. According to Andrew Morton, Meghan reportedly idolized Diana and kept his biography of the late princess close at hand growing up.
Both Harry and Meghan surely understand that the Royals regret the way they treated Diana and have another chance to get it right with her son and his independent-minded bride-to-be. For more on Princess Diana and her effect on the couple, check out these 15 Ways Meghan’s Wedding Will Be Different Than Diana’s.
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