I’m enjoying the layers within certain stories told by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Netflix’s Harry & Meghan. In one part, Meghan describes how ignorant she was of British royal “protocol” and how she was so American in her way of thinking, to the point where those salty British tightasses were probably aghast. At the surface layer, she is simply telling the truth from her perspective, she didn’t know that she wasn’t supposed to hug people or put on shoes when William and Kate came over for dinner. On another layer, she’s actually telling us why she annoyed them right away – she was so natural, so unencumbered by protocol, so warm, so undeferential, so demonstrative, so normal. Of course they hated her from day 1.
Meghan Markle says she learned the realities of royal life from Kate Middleton and Prince William.
“When Will and Kate came over and I had met her for the first time, they came over for dinner,” Meghan said in Harry & Meghan. “I remember I was in ripped jeans and barefoot.”
“Like I was a hugger, always been a hugger,” she added. “I didn’t realize that that is really jarring for a lot of Brits.”
“I guess I’d start to understand very quickly that the formality on the outside, carried through on the inside,” she continued about the multiple etiquette rules followed by the royal family, which she mistakenly believed were only observed in public.
“There is a forward-facing way of being and then you close the door and you relax now,” she added about how she expected the etiquette to be left at the door once the work day had finished. “But that formality carries over on both sides. And that was surprising to me.”
“It’s so funny if I look back at it now because now I know so much,” she continued about her inside knowledge of royal life. “And I’m so glad I didn’t then because I could just authentically be myself without so much preparedness.”
It’s sort of like “when keeping it real goes wrong” though – yes, she was authentically herself, but she’s got to admit that she probably annoyed a lot of royal-ecosystem people by being so “authentic.” That was probably a huge issue, a thread connecting so many of the larger issues between the Sussexes, the press and the Windsors – she lacked deference to their tightass, stage-managed, emotionally constipated way of living. Meghan thought she could breeze in and there would be some inherent egalitarianism in private (at the very least). This is at the heart of so many “how dare she?” stories. She dared because she didn’t know any better, because their tightass hierarchy cannot be navigated by “outsiders.”
Also: imagine the look on Wiglet’s face when a barefoot peasant like Meghan tried to hug her. LMAO.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid, Instar.
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