They may have a taste for flouting the rules, but Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s trail-blazing ways might be costing them friends – at least if a new report is to be believed. According to The Mail on Sunday, pals are skipping over the royal pair when it comes to dinner invites, all because of their supposedly off-putting displays of affection and breaking of long-held high-society etiquette rules.
It seems the Duke and Duchess of Sussex insist on sitting together at dinner parties, and have been “rejoicing in affectionate dinner-table PDAs,” clearly to the chagrin of their fellow diners. We know, we know… what do they think they are, a happy, in-love couple?!
But for those bred in high-society Britain, breaking with such tradition is no small matter, which may explain the snubbing. According to royal etiquette expert Grant Harrold, tradition dictates couples sit separately, and that guests sit only in the seat designated by the host. Harrold shared with Insider the thinking behind such formalities. “Normal dining rules state that couples are split up with they enter the dining room,” he said. “The idea is to mix couples up to help with conversation.” And he would know a thing or two about the subject – he once acted as a butler to Prince Charles, after all.
C’mon, now. Anyone who’s seen The Crown or Downton Abbey knows the two things the British upper crust takes really seriously is tradition, and deeply repressing emotion (deny it… we’ll wait). So perhaps it’s no surprise the couple’s social circles are put off by their tactile ways. Indeed, photographer Tim Rooke opened up about witnessing the Sussexes’ affectionate displays in person, calling them a visibly “authentic couple”, who showed closeness he had not seen between royals in “decades of shooting.” To be sure, it’s in stark contrast to the Cambridges, who are seldom seen acting as a couple. In fact, royal watchers everywhere were thrilled to spy a hand-on-knee situation at Princess Eugenie’s wedding last year. That’s how rare royal PDA is.
But even if the aristocratic set frown upon such openness, for the public, Harry and Meghan’s penchant for doing things their own way — from smaller things like their non-traditional wedding cake, to bigger things like where they had their baby — only serves to show a modernising, evolving part of the monarchy. Even Harrold agreed, noting “younger royals are now doing things slightly differently,” which he added was “important to show the British royal family are modernizing with and for the next generation.” So, perhaps their social calendar’s looking lighter these days, but what with baby Archie around, they probably have their hands full anyway. And hey – if they want to come over to our place and canoodle the night away, we certainly wouldn’t mind.