Any bride or groom knows that the engagement is the easy part: choose a ring, say yes, jump up and down, tell EVERYONE. Done! But then come the endless decisions: finding a location, choosing a dress, keeping the guest list below Coachella-esque numbers . . . Now that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are engaged, they will have many of the usual concerns as they plan their big day, but given their unusual circumstances, there are plenty of other areas they'll need to address, too.
Firstly, since the announcement was made, Meghan's security detail was likely immediately stepped up. Following her first official appearance with Harry at the recent Invictus Games, Meghan was drafted a security detail for the first time, but it is currently paid for by her Suits bosses. Since she's now betrothed to a member of the royal family, it makes sense that they'd start picking up the bill.
The usual early decisions about wedding venue and date will also apply to Harry and Meghan. They have a number of churches, abbeys, and cathedrals at their disposal, and each will need to be assessed according to the couple's personal preference, the size of their guest list, and their security issues. The date - which is currently set for sometime in Spring 2018 - obviously won't clash with any big royal events such as Ascot, Trooping the Colour, or any scheduled state visits (although it's certainly close to Kate Middleton's due date).
Royal engagements are always brief - usually no longer than six months - so personal decisions about dress and theme will need to be made pretty quickly. The honeymoon will also need to be decided on in the early stages so that security can be arranged. An advance team of personal protection officers will need to make an planning trip to flag up and address any areas of concern. Overseas bachelor and bachelorette parties are increasingly popular, so if Harry or Meghan want to follow in the footsteps of Pippa Middleton (who celebrated her bachelorette in Courchevel, France), this will also need to be agreed upon early on so that the necessary security trips can be put into place.
There's no doubt that Meghan has already been prepped for life in the royal family and has had access to assorted advisers, but with the engagement announced, her involvement will really ramp up. Soon after they are married, she'll take on a set of patronages, and in order to do this, she'll need to do research, take meetings, and make visits in order to choose the charities she would most like to be involved in.
In order to ease Meghan into royal life and introduce her to the people of the UK, she will likely go on a handful of official engagements alongside Prince Harry before their wedding. Between William and Kate's engagement and wedding, they made sure to undertake visits to Scotland (to their former university, St. Andrews), Northern Ireland (for pancake flipping during a charity visit on Shrove Tuesday), Wales (where they launched a lifeboat in Anglesey), and England (where they attended a charity gala).
Plans for their first royal tour are probably already springing into action as well. When William and Kate married, they went on their first tour to Canada just three months later, and it's likely Harry and Meghan will hit the road soon after their big day, too.
Meghan has already met Harry's father, Prince Charles, and grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. She's also become close with William and Kate, who shared their excitement about the engagement via Twitter. Harry has also met Meghan's mother, but a meeting that could well be set up between engagement and wedding would be between all the parents. So, it's likely that Charles and Camilla will meet Meghan's mother, Doria, and father, Tom, ahead of the wedding so they aren't meeting for the first time on the big day.
The guest list will take a long time to hash out. Harry's wedding will not be a state occasion, but diplomacy will still be required when it comes to who gets an invite. Royal wedding invitations are always sent out incredibly close to the day - William and Kate's were posted just two months before their wedding. In the run-up to the event, it's likely that keen royal fans would start camping out around where the wedding is to be held, so barriers will be erected and additional security measures undertaken.
According to tradition, the couple will spend the night before their wedding apart. Harry could either stay at his home in Kensington Palace or follow in his brother's footsteps and stay the night at his father's home, Clarence House. If he is with his father, then Meghan might stay at Kensington Palace, or she could take her lead from Kate and stay in a nearby London hotel.
See? Just your totally normal, completely average wedding.
Prince William had an especially close bond with his late mother, Princess Diana, and has talked openly about their close relationship in recent months ahead of the 20th anniversary of her tragic death. While William hasn't been quite as outspoken about the impact that his parents' divorce had on him and his brother, Prince Harry, there are a few instances that likely influenced and cemented the connection he had with Diana at the time.
Diana and Prince Charles separated in 1992 amid rumors of infidelity on both sides, but particularly concerning Charles's ongoing affair with former girlfriend Camilla Parker-Bowles. It was in 1986 that Charles rekindled their romance, and when Diana caught wind of it, she didn't back down; the normally shy princess pulled a badass move when she confronted Camilla (at her sister's birthday party, no less) about the affair, destroying what little harmony was left in her marriage. By 1995, Diana made another brazen gesture when she did a sit-down, televised interview with BBC's Martin Bashir. In it, she not only made the infamous quote, "There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded," but she also revealed that she told William, then 13, about his father's extramarital affair. "I told William, 'If you find someone you love in life, you must hang onto it and look after it,'" Diana said. "'And if you are lucky enough to find someone who loves you, then you must protect it.'"
She went on to admit that she didn't want to end the marriage, saying, "I don't want a divorce, but, obviously, we need clarity on a situation that has been of enormous discussion over the last three years," adding, "I await my husband's decision of which way we are all going to go." In an unprecedented move, the queen sent letters to Diana and Charles requesting that they divorce immediately. The divorce was finalized on Aug. 28, 1996, and Diana was killed in a car accident almost one year later. And judging by William's picture-perfect relationship with wife Kate Middleton, we have to imagine that he has taken his mother's advice to heart.
The royal family are fiercely protective over the time they get to spend together privately, and Christmas is no exception. Very few pictures exist from inside a royal festive celebration, and over the years they have all kept pretty tight-lipped about it too. However, occasionally they will let slip a little tidbit of information or share an insight into their feelings about the big day. Here we've rounded up all the times the royals have spoken about the most magical time of the year.
Image Source: Getty / WPA Pool
The queen, 2015: "At this time of year, few sights evoke more feelings of cheer and goodwill than the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree. One of the joys of living a long life is watching one's children, then grandchildren, then great-grandchildren, help decorate the Christmas tree. And this year my family has a new member [Princess Charlotte] to join in the fun. There's an old saying that 'it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.' There are millions of people lighting candles of hope in our world today. Christmas is a good time to be thankful for them, and for all that brings light to our lives."
In 1939 when the Second World War began and Britain saw three kings, the newly acceded and not yet crowned King George VI took to the airwaves as he clearly worked hard to control his stammer: "The festival which we all know as Christmas is, above all, the festival of peace and of the home. Among all free peoples the love of peace is profound, for this alone gives security to the home."
Equally moving was what was to become King George's final Christmas message in 1951. The effects of his throat cancer can clearly be heard as he spoke: "Though we live in hard and critical times, Christmas is - and always will be - the time when we can count our blessings . . . I myself have every cause for deep thankfulness, for not only - by the grace of God and through the faithful skill of my doctors, surgeons, and nurses - have I come through my illness, but I have learned once again that it is in bad times that we value most highly the support and sympathy of our friends."
Image Source: Getty /Chris Jackson
Prince Harry speaking just before the Christmas he was in Afghanistan, 2012: "There are less patrols - no one really goes out patrolling. So there's no guys on the ground, which reduces the number of us having to go out." The prince also revealed his father Prince Charles had sent him Clarence House honey and Cuban cigars, which he traded with US service-people for some of the treats they'd been sent.
Sarah Ferguson on the royal family's traditional Christmas Eve meal: "You never let the queen beat you down for dinner, end of story. To come in any later would be unimaginably disrespectful."
Image Source: Getty / Handout
Prince William on Christmas in 2015: "If I get any sleep on Christmas Eve it'll be good, because George will be bouncing around like a rabbit. I think George will be extremely bouncy this year because he's suddenly worked out what Christmas is all about . . . We'll go to church as a family on Christmas Day, as we always do. Then we'll watch George try to tackle his presents as he tries to unwrap them. It's a very different experience at Christmas, having a family of your own. It'd be nice if we got a white Christmas because we haven't had one in many years."
Princess Diana in 1985: "A parcel of any shape or form has never been safe with me and I fear that William has also picked up this dreadful habit from his mother, as I find wrapping paper undone in the most extraordinary places!"
Viscount Linley on the royal family opening their gifts: "Total uproar."
Image Source: Getty / Chris Jackson
Kate Middleton on her first Christmas at Sandringham: "I can remember being at Sandringham for the first time at Christmas, and I was worried what to give the Queen as her Christmas present . . . I thought back to what would I give my own grandparents. And I thought, 'I'll make her something.' Which could have gone horribly wrong. But I decided to make my granny's recipe of chutney. I was slightly worried about it, but I noticed the next day that it was on the table."
Zara Tindall on Christmas in 2015: "Having all the generations of my family together at Christmas is my favorite part of the season. It's a time of year that is about being with people you love, great food, and loads of games to play. Christmas takes on a new magic when you have children. Mia will share this Christmas with lots of her cousins, some very close in age to her, and I think this year will be the one when she really starts to understand it all."
We have a royal wedding date! Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have announced that they will wed at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018. Kensington Palace announced the news with a statement on Twitter, accompanied by a picture of the happy couple.
His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales and Ms. Meghan Markle will marry on 19th May 2018.
Today's announcement follows earlier confirmation of the month of the wedding and its location at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. pic.twitter.com/7pgdRM90Na
- Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) December 15, 2017
Harry and Meghan announced their engagement at the end of November and wasted no time in making their first official appearance together and taking part in their first TV interview as a couple. They'll soon spend Christmas together as guests of the Queen and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Separated by an ocean and born three years apart, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle led very different lives - until in 2016, when the stars aligned, a mutual friend acted as matchmaker, and they met for the first time. So at pivotal times in their lives, what was happening with the other at the exact same time? What was Harry's life like when Meghan was dealing with her parent's separation, and what was Meghan doing when Harry's parents split? What was Meghan up to when Harry was serving in Afghanistan, and how was Harry spending his time when Meghan landed her first big acting role in Suits? We're taking a look at their individual roads to romance.
Image Source: Getty / Max Mumby
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have announced their engagement, and even though we've all had to put our own ambitions about marrying Prince Harry to bed, the silver lining is that we'll be getting one badass, philanthropic American princess - and that has a lot of people psyched for various reasons. The main reason is that these two seem truly, deliriously happy and in love. The evidence: oh, just everything they've said about each other and how quickly - or efficiently - their relationship has moved. Here is a timeline of their relationship milestones that'll make you believe in the adage of "when you know, you know."
May 2016: The Prince and the Actress Meet
Harry and Meghan were set up by a mutual friend in May of 2016, in Toronto, the city where she filmed her series Suits and where Harry was launching the 2017 Invictus Games.
Summer to Fall 2016: Meeting the Parents
Though the biggest royal family meeting wouldn't come for a while, Harry was introduced to the most important woman in Meghan's life when he met her mom over the Summer, shortly after they started dating. Meghan reportedly met Prince Charles in September 2016, and soon after, she met Harry's big brother, Prince William, in November.
November 2016: Harry Publicly Confirms Their Relationship
After news broke that Meghan and Harry were dating, Meghan was subjected to nasty attacks in the tabloids and on social media. Despite being quite private, Harry gallantly - and very publicly - defended Meghan in a statement on the Kensington Palace Twitter account, urging the media and public to respect his new girlfriend's privacy. It just so happened to be the first time he publicly called her his girlfriend.
December 2016: Spotted!
Even though the general public had known about the relationship for months by then, it wasn't until December 2016 that that the two were spotted together, out on a date in London. The two traveled back and forth between his home in London and hers in Toronto, nurturing their long-distance relationship. She also started wearing a necklace with his and her initials on it in the cutest (and most fashionable) subliminal declaration of love.
March 2017: Meghan Becomes Harry's Plus One
Is there anything more official in a relationship than becoming your new BF's wedding date? The couple hit that milestone in March, when Meghan came to a wedding of a friend of Harry's in Jamaica. Two months later, she also attended an even bigger wedding when she came to Pippa Middleton's wedding reception as Harry's date.
Image Source: Getty / Karwai Tang
September 2017: Their First Public Event as a Couple
Over a year after they started dating, Meghan and Harry attended their first public event together, the 2017 Invictus Games. They even showed a little PDA after the event.
September 2017: Meghan Gives Her First Interview About Harry
Just after the Invictus Games, Meghan opened up to Vanity Fair about Harry, saying, "We're two people who are really happy and in love," marking the first time she spoke about him publicly. Meanwhile, rumors were beginning to spread that she would be leaving her TV series Suits.
Image Source: Vanity Fair / Peter Lindbergh
October 2017: Meghan Meets the Queen!
Over a year after Meghan and Harry had met their other important family members, Meghan finally met the queen, and it happened in the most British, most royal way: they had tea together.
November 2017: They're Engaged!
Which brings us to today: after that fortuitous meeting with the queen, Meghan and Harry announced their engagement, posing for fairy-tale-worthy engagement photos and giving an interview about their relationship. The romantic proposal was private and sweet and took place in early November.
Image Source: Getty / Daniel Leal-Olivas
2018: The Wedding!
Next up is Meghan and Harry's wedding, which will take place in Spring 2018 (which is also when Prince William and Kate Middleton's third child is due). Even though we know this royal wedding will be much more low-key than Prince William's, it doesn't make us any less excited for it.
Image Source: Getty / Daniel Leal-Olivas
It's the news that royal fans have been waiting 392 days to hear: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are engaged! Just over a year after their relationship became public in October 2016, the office of Harry's father, Prince Charles, made the announcement. Behind the simple statement of "His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms. Meghan Markle" lies a long list of to-dos that needed to be ticked off before the news was made official.
Meeting the Parents
In order to get to the point where an engagement was possible, the couple needed to rack up a few milestones so that everything could be deemed "proper." One of the most important was meeting each other's families. It's likely that Harry met Meghan's mother, Doria, during one of his visits to stay with Meghan in Toronto, while for Meghan it was about meeting Harry's brother, William, his father, Prince Charles, and his grandmother the queen. Meghan revealed in their engagement interview that she has spent lots of time with William and Kate over the past 18 months and accompanied Harry to meet up with Prince Charles a handful of times as well. It was reported that she then met the queen for the first time in September at Buckingham Palace.
A Few Formalities
In conjunction with the usual signs of a relationship getting serious - such as meeting each others' families - royal status calls for a couple of formalities to be taken care of too. It's likely that since the relationship has, from the beginning, moved along at a brisk pace, Harry and Meghan would have discussed marriage before Harry proposed, and when they knew they were heading very firmly in that direction, they made their first public appearance, when Meghan accompanied Harry to various Invictus Games events in September.
They will have needed to wait a while rather than rushing into marriage, too. In the past, royal relationships have been a bit of a whirlwind: Princess Anne, Prince Charles, and Prince Andrew all married when they had been dating for just one year, but after those three marriages all ended in divorce, it's likely that Harry would have been strongly advised to wait until at least the one-year mark before proposing - meaning that by the time he and Meghan marry next Spring, they will have been together for two years. As their relationship became serious, Meghan would have also had palace advisers on hand to brief her on her shifting profile.
The Royal Seal of Approval
Once Harry had decided to to ask Meghan for her hand in marriage, he was faced with something of a royal obstacle course that lay between his proposal and his wedding day. First up: getting permission from the queen. The Royal Marriages Act of 1772 means members of the royal family need permission from the monarch in order to marry, and although these days it's more of a formality, it still needed to happen. Her majesty's permission comes in the form of an Instrument of Consent, which is written out in ornate calligraphy and marked with her red wax Seal of the Realm.
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Permission From the Bride-to-Be's Parents
Tradition dictates that any potential husband-to-be should ask for permission to marry from the parents of his intended, and although this practice is now pretty relaxed, Harry would want to do things "properly" - and the announcement from the palace stated: "Prince Harry has also sought and received the blessing of Ms. Markle's parents." It isn't yet known whether this occurred before the proposal - as is tradition - or afterward, which is what Prince William did when he proposed to Kate Middleton. His reason? As he revealed in his engagement interview, "I was torn between asking Kate's dad first and then the realization that he might actually say 'no' dawned upon me. So I thought if I ask Kate first, then he can't really say no. So I did it that way round. I managed to speak to Mike soon after it happened really and then it sort of happened from there."
Choosing the Ring
Selecting an engagement ring is never going to be easy for a husband-to-be, but in Harry's case, there was a whole other layer of considerations, as royal engagement rings are usually steeped in history and personal meaning. When his grandfather Prince Philip proposed to the queen, he used a ring made up of diamonds from a tiara which had belonged to his mother. When Prince Charles proposed to Camilla Parker-Bowles, he selected a ring that had belonged to his grandmother, the queen mother, and when William proposed to Kate, he of course chose Princess Diana's iconic 12-carat sapphire. By selecting two diamonds from Diana's collection for the ring he helped design, Harry clearly wanted to continue the family tradition.
Image Source: Getty / Karwai Tang
Telling Friends and Family
Although they like to keep their happy news to themselves for a while, there are certain people the royal couple tell before the news becomes public. Immediate family and very close friends would have been on Harry and Meghan's list.
Informing the Prime Minister
It was reported that Prime Minister Theresa May had been informed a week before the royal engagement, and it is usually protocol to inform the sitting PM. On the day the news broke, Theresa tweeted, "I would like to offer my very warmest congratulations to HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle upon their engagement. This is a time of huge celebration for two people in love and, on behalf of myself, the Government and the country, I wish them great happiness for the future."
Official Engagement Portraits
Having formal engagement photos taken in a private setting is common practice among senior royal family members. They are usually taken before the announcement so that they can swiftly be supplied to the press to quell the demand for perfectly posed pictures of the couple - and in them, the couple is likely to be more relaxed and polished than they are at their press call.
Breaking the News
It's traditional for the parents to break the news, and in both William's and Harry's cases, the announcement came from Prince Charles's office at St. James's Palace. Simultaneously, the announcement was made across all royal social media platforms.
Stepping Into the Spotlight
The final part of a royal engagement process is that the couple get suited and booted to meet the world's media during a press call. For the queen and Prince Philip, it was at Buckingham Palace; for William and Kate, it was at St. James's Palace; and for Harry and Meghan, it was in the gardens of Kensington Palace. As was the case with William and Kate and Harry and Meghan, a television interview was recorded directly afterward with someone already known to the couple. Once the engagement itself is done and dusted, it's simply on to the small matter of planning a royal wedding.
Meghan Markle's royal wedding to Prince Harry will be historic for many different reasons. Aside from being an American, the Suits actress has also done something that is almost unheard of when it comes to royal brides: she graduated from college. In fact, the only other royal bride who has received a college education is her future sister-in-law, Kate Middleton. Looks like these two ladies already have something to bond over!
After graduating from a private Catholic school in LA, Meghan attended the Chicago campus of Northwestern University, which is based in Evanston, IL. Aside from earning a bachelor's degree with a double major in theater and international studies in 2003, she was also a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority during her time in school. Shortly after her graduation, Meghan worked at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before pursuing acting.
Prince William and Kate Middleton are living a real-life fairy tale, and it's not just because they're part of the royal family. After meeting at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where they were living at the same residence hall, the two fell head over heels for each other. Even though they took a brief break from 2007 to 2010, they eventually got their happily ever after (or at least their happy beginning) when they tied the knot in one of the biggest and most newsworthy weddings of our generation in April 2011. Six years and two children later, the pair still have that look of love whenever they're together. While they have had a number of sweet appearances over the course of their relationship, we can't help but notice the way Kate smiles at Will when he isn't looking. See the duchess's most royally in love moments ahead.
The Royal Family has released a behind-the-scenes video of the Christmas trees being installed at Buckingham Palace, and it'll come as no surprise to you that Queen Elizabeth II goes big when it comes to festive decor, even though she won't actually be in London on Christmas Day, but celebrating with the family at Sandringham.
The palace plays host to 3 trees, one giant 15 foot Nordmann Fir, sourced from Windsor Great Park, which stands pride of place in the Marble Hall, and two "smaller" 10 foot trees at the Palace's Grand Entrance. The trees are all festooned with lights, and this year are hung with dozens of bejeweled gold and velvet crowns that pay perfect homage to their royal owners. The video also reveals that the palace balustrade is decorated with giant garlands hung with jewel-colored baubles.
Christmas trees and the British royal family are intrinsically linked, as it's the royals who are responsible for bringing the Northern European tradition to the UK. Queen Charlotte, consort of King George III, installed the first British Christmas tree at the Queen's Lodge, Windsor, in December 1800. However, it's Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who are credited with popularizing the trend, which endures to this day.
After officially announcing their engagement on Monday morning, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made a celebratory appearance at Kensington Palace. Harry and Meghan definitely had that newly engaged glow as they held hands and Meghan showed off her stunning engagement ring. In addition to their outing being extra adorable, it instantly reminded us of when Prince William and Kate Middleton stepped out to celebrate their engagement at St. James's Palace back in November 2010.
While there were many similarities in the way both couples gazed lovingly into each other's eyes and held onto their other halves' arms, there were also a few differences. For starters, Meghan and Harry chose to have their engagement photocall outside at the Sunken Garden and Will and Kate had theirs inside at St. James's Palace. Kate also wore a blue wrap dress for the occasion, while Meghan opted for a white trench coat. And then there are the rings. Kate's engagement ring includes a 12-carat sapphire that once belonged to Princess Diana. Meghan's ring, on the other hand, features a center-stone diamond from Botswana and two smaller diamonds from Harry's personal collection, which was given to him by Diana. Keep reading to see Harry and Meghan's engagement photocall side by side with Will and Kate's.
Princess Diana was many things to many people, but above all else, she was an adoring and doting mother of two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. While much is known about Diana's special connection with her boys, there's one thing people may not know about Harry's birth in particular: Prince Charles "desperately" wanted a little girl, and Diana, knowing that she was carrying a baby boy, kept the secret from her husband throughout her entire pregnancy.
About a year after Prince William was born in June 1982, Diana was under pressure to produce a spare to the heir. In September 1983, Buckingham Palace announced that Diana was pregnant for a second time, but sadly, she suffered a miscarriage later that week while at the Balmoral estate in Scotland. Cut to early 1984, when Charles and Diana found out that they were expecting again. During her difficult pregnancy, Diana told friends, "I don't think I'm made for the production line, but it's all worth it in the end."
In September 1984, Diana gave birth to a baby boy, Henry Charles Albert David Mountbatten-Windsor, after nine hours of labor and zero drugs. In Andrew Morton's Diana: Her True Story, the princess revealed her husband's "dismay" after welcoming their second child: "Charles always wanted a girl," she said. "Harry was a boy. His first comment was, 'Oh God, it's a boy.' His second: 'And he's even got red hair.'" Charles discounted the comment as a joke, but Diana was extremely hurt and offended: not only had she just endured nine f*cking hours of natural birth, but her older sisters and younger brother, Earl Spencer, all happen to have red hair, a trait that runs in the Spencer family. What's worse, at Harry's christening in December, Charles reportedly told Diana's mother, "We were so disappointed - we thought it would be a girl."
Diana went on to explain that she and Charles were "the closest we've ever, ever been and ever will be" in the weeks before Harry was born, adding, "Then, suddenly, as Harry was born, it just went bang, our marriage. The whole thing went down the drain." She went on to admit that "something inside me closed off," after Harry's birth - especially because Charles had picked up his longtime affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. "By then, I knew Charles had gone back to his lady," she said of the rekindled romance.
Harry's red hair led many to believe that his biological father was actually James Hewitt, an English Army captain who was hired to teach Diana, William, and Harry horseback riding. While Diana and James did carry on an affair in the late '80s, they didn't meet until two years after Harry's birth. And Charles's desire for a baby girl has held strong after all these years, as evidenced by his excitement over the birth of Princess Charlotte in 2015. "I was hoping for a granddaughter - someone to look after me when I am very old," he told reporters during a public engagement that year. "I am really rather thrilled."
Beatrice and Eugenie are two real life princesses you should know more about. Over the years, they have showed us that they lead pretty normal lives (considering who their grandmother is), that they are some of the most underrated members of the royal family, and that, just like us, they also like to have a good time. But, most of all, the sisters have showed us that they have an undeniably sweet bond, and we can't get enough of seeing them together at events. Read on to see all the times they made us wish we also had a sister.
Now that Meghan Markle is about to join the royal family, she's knee-deep in a lot of new etiquette rules - literally. No amount of binge-watching The Crown is going to prepare her for how to meet, greet, and show respect to members of her new extended family, which includes the age-old and slightly confusing curtsy.
Female members of the family are given lower rank than male members, and until recently, wives of the queen's sons were given higher rank than her daughters and granddaughters.
There's no law that enforces a curtsy, and just a few years ago, Queen Elizabeth II herself admitted that she doesn't expect to be curtsyed to by the women she meets in public. But it is considered a sign of great respect, which is why it's remained such a tradition, whether the family is at a state function, official event, or celebrating Christmas in Sandringham.
Female members of the family are given lower rank than male members, and until recently, wives of the queen's sons were given higher rank than her daughters and granddaughters. However, now "blood princesses" like Anne, Beatrice, Eugenie, Alexandra, and even 3-year-old Charlotte are given precedence over women who have married into the royal family, like Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Kate Middleton, and soon, Meghan Markle.
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So, who will Meghan be curtsying to? Her sister-in-law Kate, for one, as she's married to a future king. Same goes for Prince Charles's wife, Camilla Parker Bowles. Meghan will also curtsy to "blood princesses" like Anne, the daughter of the sovereign, as well as Prince Andrew's daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie. When it comes to men in the family, Meghan should curtsy to anyone with a prince title. No title, no curtsy. But because of a pretty outdated rule that states that a woman's status is "validated by her royal husband," Meghan won't have to curtsy to Sophie, Countess of Wessex unless her husband, Prince Edward, is in the room. And if Harry is around, even blood princesses like Beatrice, Eugenie, and Anne's daughter Zara Tindall should curtsy to Meghan. Are you royally confused yet?
We're constantly inundated with lovely family photos of the royals on their duties and attending weddings, but it isn't often we see them being their natural, and in this case pretty hilarious, selves. Princess Eugenie can't keep her cool at the races, is an excellent selfie taker, delivers a devastating eye roll, and is a surprisingly big fan of nail art. Who'd have known Prince Andrew's youngest was such a cool girl? Read on to see Eugenie wave pip pip to her royal duties and enjoy a jolly good show.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana pose with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in March 1981, shortly after their engagement. Image Source: Getty / Hulton Royals Collection
With the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana's tragic death approaching, interest in her life - and especially her marriage to Prince Charles - has piqued in recent months. The relationship between Charles and Diana was tumultuous, to say the least; they met after Charles first dated Diana's older sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, and only went on 12 dates before getting engaged in February 1981 and tying the knot five months later. By late 1992 (after collective affairs and embarrassing leaked audio conversations), Charles and Diana's 11-year marriage was a disaster - and the royal family couldn't hide it anymore.
Charles's parents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, met with the couple for an intervention of sorts. Philip and Diana exchanged heartfelt letters that Summer in which he expressed his disappointment at both her and Charles's extramarital affairs and asked her to see both of their slip-ups from the other's point of view; at one point he seemed ready to give up, writing, "I will always do my utmost to help you and Charles to the best of my ability. . . but I am quite ready to concede that I have no talent as a marriage counselor." Their attempts at reconciliation were unsuccessful, and that December, Prime Minister John Major publicly announced the pair's "amicable separation," reading an official statement from the royal family.
Diana and Charles looked less than enthused during their royal tour of Canada in October 1991. Image Source: Getty / Anwar Hussein
After their separation, more rumors of cheating emerged, and Diana conducted a tell-all interview with the BBC's Martin Bashir in which she disclosed details about her own infidelity and struggle with bulimia as well as Charles's affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, making the famous quote, "There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded." Ultimately, Elizabeth gave up too - likely fed up with doing damage control for Charles and Diana's cheating scandals and the blowback from Diana broadcasting their business, she sprung into action. On Dec. 20, 1995, Buckingham Palace announced that the queen had written separate letters to the couple ordering them to divorce ASAP, an unprecedented move at the time. "After considering the present situation, the queen wrote to both the prince and princess earlier this week and gave them her view, supported by the Duke of Edinburgh, that an early divorce is desirable," a palace statement said. It added that both Elizabeth and Philip would "continue to do all they can to help and support the Prince and Princess of Wales, and most particularly their children, in this difficult period." Charles agreed formally in writing soon after, but it took Diana until February to announce her agreement after negotiations with Charles and representatives for Elizabeth and until July for the couple to agree on the terms of their divorce.
Queen Elizabeth reportedly wanted to let Diana keep the style of her royal highness, but Charles was "adamant" that she give it up.
Their divorce was finalized in August 1996, but some drama surrounding her title ensued. Queen Elizabeth reportedly wanted to let Diana keep the style of her royal highness, but Charles was "adamant" that she give it up - instead, she was given the title Diana, Princess of Wales. The loss of the honorific separated Diana from the rest of the family in such a way that she had to curtsy to those that had it, including her own children. Heartbreakingly, a 14-year-old Prince William is said to have comforted his mother after the loss of her title by saying, "Don't worry, Mummy, I will give it back to you one day when I am king."
Diana, Harry, William, and Charles watch a parade in London in March 1995. Image Source: Getty / AFP
Diana was allowed to keep her apartment at Kensington Palace - which now serves as the official residence of William, Kate Middleton, and their two children - as "a central and secure home for The Princess and the children." She was given access to the royal family's jets and was able "to use the state apartments at St. James's Palace for entertaining," as long as asked the queen's permission first. She was also permitted to keep all the jewelry she amassed during her marriage, with the exception of the Cambridge Lover's Knot tiara, which Elizabeth gave to her as a wedding present after only wearing it once. It was lent to Kate Middleton in both 2015 and 2016.
Buckingham Palace publicly stated that as the mother of heirs to the throne, Diana would continue to be regarded as a member of the royal family and "will from time to time receive invitations to state and national public occasions" at the invitation "of the sovereign or the Government." She and Charles were granted equal access to Prince William and Prince Harry, who were 14 and 11 at the time, respectively, and the boys alternated holidays with each of their parents when they weren't attending boarding school. Things seemed to be civil between Charles and Diana as they worked together to coparent their boys after the divorce and up until Diana's death in August 1997. During an inquest into the tragedy in January 2007, Deputy Coroner of the Queen's Household Baroness Butler-Sloss said, "I am satisfied that at her death, Diana Princess of Wales continued to be considered as a member of the Royal Household."
Before Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth, she married the handsome foreign Prince Philip from Greece, who also happens to be her third cousin. According to Sally Bedell Smith's biography titled Elizabeth the Queen, Philip came from a tumultuous background despite his lineage. Born in 1921 on the island of Corfu, he moved to Paris at age 1 with his parents, Alice Marie and Prince Andrew of Greece. By age 8, he'd headed to England for boarding school. With generous good looks and confidence, Philip made his way to England with the help of royal relatives. He would later be invited to have lunch with the royal family, and that's when Elizabeth reportedly fell for him. During World War II, Philip served in the Mediterranean and Pacific, and he and Elizabeth wrote each other letters. By 1946, he was back in London and making regular visits to Buckingham Palace. During that Summer, he spent a month at the royal family's Balmoral Estate, where he proposed. Their wedding was held at Westminster Abbey on Nov. 20, 1947.
During their 70 years of marriage, most of them during Elizabeth's reign as the monarch, Prince Philip has been as constant as the queen herself, although he's a bit more controversial, making a few insensitive gaffes. But when he's not giving the press an unfortunate quote to run, he's either by the queen's side, working as a patron for several charities, or, until recently, enjoying carriage racing. Let's look back at pictures of Prince Philip over the years, then see the facts about the British royal family every diehard fan should know.
Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth, at Windsor Castle in July 1946. Image Source: Getty / Lisa Sheridan
Think back a moment to your mid-20s: you were likely just settling into postgrad life, landing your first adult job, and trying to balance fun nights out with paying back your student loans. Or maybe you're in your mid-20s right now, trying to navigate the world after college, on the prowl for a significant other, and trying to balance your desire to travel the world with the responsibility of paying rent on time.
Imagine at that time having the responsibility of running a country - wait, more like four countries - placed on your shoulders. That's exactly what happened to Queen Elizabeth II in 1952 when her father, King George VI, died and she was appointed to the throne. At the time, she was only 25 years old - a 25-year-old woman who, for all intents and purposes, was not expected to become queen; Elizabeth's uncle, Prince Edward, inherited the throne from King George V, and many assumed he would marry and have children of his own (that would knock Elizabeth down the line of succession). But in 1936, when Elizabeth was just 10, Edward abdicated the throne to marry his divorced mistress, American socialite Wallis Simpson, and George VI took over. For the first 10 years of her life, Elizabeth would have been just like today's Princess Beatrice: a distant heir to the throne. Nobody predicted that George would fall ill and pass away so soon - he was only 56 - but those royal duties quickly became hers.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arriving back in England to mourn the death of her father, King George VI, in February 1952. Image Source: Getty / Popperfoto
In early 1952, Elizabeth and Prince Philip, whom she had married four years earlier, set out for a tour of Australia and New Zealand with a stop in Kenya. While at their Kenyan home, Sagana Lodge, they got word that the king had died - and that Elizabeth was now queen. It was Prince Philip who broke the news to her, and when she was asked to choose a regnal name, she opted to "of course" remain Elizabeth. She and Prince Philip headed back to London and almost immediately moved into Buckingham Palace. In June 1953, Elizabeth was coronated at Westminster Abbey; Prince Charles and Princess Anne, who were just four and two at the time, respectively, were present for the big event.
Queen Elizabeth II on the Buckingham Palace balcony after her coronation in June 1953. Image Source: Getty / Hulton Archive
Since taking the throne, Elizabeth has become head of the Commonwealth (which currently includes 52 countries) as well as queen of another 12 countries that have become independent since her accession. In 2015, she broke an astounding record, becoming the UK's longest reigning British monarch (the previous record of 23,226 days was held by Queen Victoria). She's celebrated huge milestones with her Silver, Golden, and Diamond Jubilees, and in 2017, she became the first British monarch to commemorate a Sapphire Jubilee, marking 65 years of her reign. Elizabeth is certainly not your average 90-year-old, but the duties and challenges she's taken on since becoming queen can still inspire all women - whether you're in the throes of your 20s right now or looking back on those heady days with fondness.
The birth of Prince William and Kate Middleton's third child will certainly bring some changes to the royal family. Not only could Princess Charlotte soon become the quintessential rebellious, open-minded middle child, but there will also be some adjustments to the line of succession to the British throne - namely for Uncle Harry, who will be moving down a spot. Before baby Cambridge shakes things up next Spring, let's take a look at the current roster for one of the most important jobs in the world.
- Prince Charles: At almost 69 years old, Charles will be the oldest heir to accede to the British throne. There is also debate of whether Charles will become King Charles III or take on the regnal name of King George VII.
- Prince William: As the firstborn of the queen's firstborn, William stands to inherit the throne after his father. There stands the small possibility that Charles decides he doesn't want to take on the responsibility of the Commonwealth, and William would take over almost immediately.
- Prince George: It may be hard to picture now, but one day, the spunky 4-year-old prince will rule all of England.
- Princess Charlotte: As a spare heir to the throne, Charlotte will act as a support to her big brother until he has a family of his own.
- Prince Harry: Until the birth of baby Cambridge, Harry is fifth in line for the throne - and judging by his comments about becoming king one day, we have a feeling he's not too bummed about being pushed down the line even further.
- Prince Andrew: The queen's second-born son will also move down once baby Cambridge is born, and his new place as seventh in line will officially mean that he can marry whoever he wants without having to seek permission from the queen first.
- Princess Beatrice: The Duke of York's older daughter, whom he shares with ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, is next in line.
- Princess Eugenie: Beatrice's younger sister is positioned after her; both women can marry whomever they want without having to ask Granny for her permission!
- Prince Edward: The Earl of Wessex is the last born to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, but due to the Act of Settlement 1701 (which was amended in 2013), Edward was able to displace his older sister, Princess Anne, in line for the throne. Because of the updated Succession to the Crown Act, Princess Charlotte's place in line will not be affected, even if her younger sibling is a boy.
- Viscount Severn: James, Viscount Severn, is the only son of Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie. Because he was born in 2009 - the Act applies to those born after October 2011 - he was able to cut in line ahead of his older sister, Louise.
- The Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor: The 13-year-old, whom you may remember as a bridesmaid in Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding, is in line for the throne after her younger brother.
- Princess Anne: As the queen's second child, Anne was third in line for the throne at the time of her birth - but being a girl meant that both of the princess royal's younger brothers, Andrew and Edward, would later surpass her in the succession line.
- Peter Phillips: Princess Anne's son was able to jump in line ahead of his older sister, Zara.
- Savannah Phillips: Peter's 6-year-old daughter, Savannah, is next in line.
- Isla Phillips: Five-year-old Isla follows her sister, Savannah.
- Zara Tindall: Rounding out the list is Zara Tindall (née Phillips), who is Princess Anne's firstborn and is married to former English rugby player Mike Tindall.