Meghan Markle may now be the Duchess of Sussex, but she still has to defer to higher-ranking members of the royal family. At the annual Trooping the Colour celebration on June 9, which is held in honor of the Queen’s birthday, Markle made her official debut on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
You may have noticed that she was standing behind her sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton. That’s because Markle was simply taking her proper place in the royal hierarchy.
“She was not as prominent perhaps as some people might have expected, but there’s a pecking order,” Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, explained to People. “There was no slight intended, but William being the older, more senior brother would go out [first] with his wife.”
Although she did not take the top spot, according to a palace source, the order of appearance on the balcony is not a hard-and-fast rule, but rather, a matter of etiquette and deference.
“[Markle’s position on the balcony] would have come from her,” the source told the magazine. “There’s no one laying this out, telling her where to stand. And there were a lot of kids who everyone would want at the front.”
No matter where she stood, Markle was hard to miss as she looked radiant in a pale pink off-the-shoulder dress by Carolina Herrera, which she paired with a matching hat by London-based and royal favorite designer Philip Treacy.
Markle handled her debut on the balcony with grace and ease, but of course, she’s still getting used to being a royal, so it’s no wonder she needed a little assistance from Prince Harry at the event as well. A fan captured an adorable moment in which Markle nervously asked her husband to confirm that it was time to curtsy.
Check out the cute clip posted to Instagram:
It’s nice to know that even royals-in-training need a little guidance now and again! But Markle was wasting no time assuming her royal duties after her May 19 wedding to Prince Harry. One June 14, Markle stepped out for her first solo appearance with Queen Elizabeth (no pressure!).
The pair traveled by overnight train to Cheshire, where they greeted the public and attended a performance by local schoolchildren. The Queen also formally open the Mersey Gateway Bridge.
Markle looked every bit the duchess in an ivory Givenchy dress with a black belt.
With this gorgeous ensemble, Markle challenged royal style protocol… again. Here’s how:
And if there was any remaining question that Markle fits right in with the royal family, just take a look at this sweet photo of her and the queen giggling like old friends.
A new title and royal outings aren’t the only ways Markle’s life has changed now that she’s officially a duchess. There are all kinds of rules and protocol she must follow as a member of the royal family.
Of course, she gave up her acting career and moved to England, and Markle also shut down her blog. She closed the blog, named The Tig, with a goodbye message to fans.
“… Keep finding those Tig moments of discovery, keep laughing and taking risks, and keep being ‘the change you wish to see in the world,'” she wrote.
Markle plans to become a British citizen, but as is customary for members of the royal family, she will not be allowed to vote or run for elected office.
There are also some lesser-known rules the royals are expected to follow.
For instance, they’re encouraged to avoid shellfish because it carries a higher risk of food-borne illness. And you’d never guess this, but apparently the board game Monopoly is not banned (or at least jokingly discouraged) in the royal family.
“We’re not allowed to play Monopoly at home,” Prince Andrew said in 2008. “It gets too vicious.”