From keeping their birth of their son private to closing their own car doors, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have basically become synonymous with the term "breaking royal tradition." And it sounds like they're continuing to eschew protocol on their royal tour of Africa — in a whole different way.
We're used to reading headlines about the Sussexes going against the grain by wearing dark nail polish or taking selfies with fans, but this time, Meghan and Harry are breaking tradition in a way that's much more institutional and, perhaps, long-lasting. According to Vanity Fair's royal reporter Katie Nicholl, the couple wants "minimal fuss, formality, and protocol" on this trip, and have requested as little formality as possible from the people they'll be meeting with.
"It’s very much how they want things done," a source told Vanity Fair. "There is no protocol that says you have to bow or curtsy when you meet them, it’s really up to the individual."
Palace aides also told the magazine that the couple is happy to be addressed by their first names when meeting with members of the public, instead of the "Your Royal Highness" and Sir and Ma’am greetings that formal engagements usually require.
This informality, however, has left some people confused as to what exactly to do when meeting the royals.
“I have no idea how to speak to them. We haven’t received any official brief on etiquette," Jacky Poking, secretary of the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association (who will meet the couple on Heritage Day on Tuesday), told South Africa’s Sunday Times. "I think that’s because the Sussexes want to keep it informal. I don’t even know how to greet them."
As jarring as these changes in protocol might be for people who aren't sure of how to greet the Sussexes now, they could also lead to lasting change within the monarchy. Sure, change doesn't happen overnight — especially within a system that's steeped in tradition — but the Sussexes seem to be chipping away at a few of the customs of royal life. Despite their clear wishes for privacy in certain areas of their life, this reported wish for informality and the way they're affecting change via their Instagram account indicates a level of openness and accessibility with the general public.
Time will tell if their protocol-breaking ways really do change the way the monarchy operates, but the potential for change is just one reason why we're so enraptured with the Sussexes.
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