Countless little girls grow up fantasizing about becoming a princess. It’s a dream fuelled by Disney movies and fairy tales which promote the idea that finding true happiness is a simple case of marrying a handsome prince and living happily ever after. If only it was so simple! By Disney standards, I’ve been left on the shelf, and it’s not like I have the consolidation prize of woodland creatures cleaning my apartment for me.
When Meghan Markle married the Playboy Prince AKA Prince Harry with all the splendor of a Disney princess in May, the world watched in awe. But now that the confetti has been cleared from the grounds of Windsor Castle and the newlyweds have settled into married life together, she has to get used to the fact that the reality of being a princess is a lot more constrained than what she probably imagined it to be as a little girl.
Prior to marrying into “The Firm”, as the British Royals are so often called, Meghan was well-known for her feminist views. In fact, she even tried to carry them over into her new life as a Royal by walking down part of the aisle alone – proving that she didn’t need no man.
So it’s more than likely that she’s now struggling to come to terms with the outdated rules about what she can and can’t do as a woman in the Royal Family.
In the not-so-distant past, women in the United Kingdom were thought of entirely as homemakers and strived to make themselves appear as modest as possible. As a divorcee and an American, she is one of the most unconventional people to marry a senior royal, but that doesn’t change the rules that she has to abide by now that she’s a part of the family.
These rules extend so far as to dictate what she can wear, say, an even what she can and can’t do while sitting down. Yikes!
As a woman who spent 36 years enjoying the freedom the majority of women have in the modern Western world, getting used to these outdated and patriarchal standards cannot be easy, something which Meghan recently proved while posing for a picture at Buckingham Palace.
Women in the Royal Family are only allowed to sit down in one particular way. Having your legs open is an absolute no-no (for obvious reasons) and crossing them is out of the question too. Instead, they are expected to adopt the “Duchess slant”.
This move was popularized by Kate Middleton who is a pro at crossing her legs below the knee and slanting them to the side.
However, during a recent party at Buckingham Palace in honor of the Queen’s Young Leaders, Meghan completely forgot Royal protocol and crossed her legs above the knee.
(Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the Queen’s Young Leaders are young people who have made a significant contribution to their community in the fields of mental health advocacy, advocating against violence against women, and other life-saving acts of heroism, Cosmopolitan reported.)
Thankfully, it wasn’t long before Meghan realized that she’d made a mistake, and she handled it like a pro.
To see how she effortlessly rectified the situation, check out the video below:
While there’s no doubt that banning royal women from crossing their legs is a pretty outdated thing to do (and that’s putting it lightly), every silver lining (or, in Meghan’s case, gilded gold palace) has a cloud, and she’s definitely taking it all in her stride.
But it is worth noting that there have been more than a few occasions when the Duchess of Sussex has deliberately broken protocol.
When Meghan attended her first Trooping the Color, for example, she was slammed by British tabloids for wearing a dress that was deemed too revealing by Royal standards which dictate that “fashion tradition usually dictates that Royal women do not wear off-shoulder or other more revealing styles.”
To put Meghan’s small act of rebellion into context, Kate is only ever seen in dresses with sleeves that go below the elbow and Diana did the same thing while attending Royal events.
Putting fashion and sitting positions to the side, a bigger rule that Meghan has broken is Royal neutrality when it comes to politics. While engaged to Prince Harry, she made the rebellious decision to give her forthright opinions about female empowerment at her first Royal Foundation Forum.
“I hear a lot of people speaking about girls’ empowerment and women’s empowerment; you will hear people saying they are helping women find their voices. I fundamentally disagree with that because women don’t need to find their voices, they need to be empowered to use it and people need to be urged to listen,” she said.
However, given the fact that Prince Harry was famed for his partying and unconventional ways (who could forget that Nazi outfit?!), it’s only natural that he would fall for an equally unconventional woman.
The pair even broke Royal protocol with the month that they chose to marry in. Harry’s great-great-great grandma, Queen Victoria, would have never allowed it as she was a firm believer in the old wives’ tale: “Marry in May, and rue the day.”
The place of the monarchy in society is being questioned more than ever before in the modern world, with many people wanting it to change with the times, and there’s no doubt that Meghan and indeed Harry’s breaking of conventions will enable this to happen.