In Depth

Meghan Markle: the rules she must follow as a royal

The Duchess of Sussex has to ditch ‘commoner’ habits including taking selfies and wearing colourful nail varnish

Life as Meghan Markle knows it has changed forever following her widely celebrated marriage to Prince Harry earlier this month.

The former Suits actor has rarely been out of the public eye since their engagement was announced in November.

“From her first royal engagement with Harry and spending Christmas with the Royal Family, Markle has had to make some significant adjustments to her life and the way she interacts with the public,” says Harper’s Bazaar.

Here is a list of some of the things that the new Duchess of Sussex is no longer supposed to do:


Perhaps the most important loss to Markle will be her democratic rights, as the Royals - by convention - do not vote.

The Parliament website notes: “Although not prohibited by law, it is considered unconstitutional for the monarch to vote in an election.”

Other members of the Royal Family are expected to follow suit, remaining neutral in political matters.


According to the Daily Mirror, the Royals are expressly forbidden from appearing in selfies, even if they are not the ones taking them.

Markle has abided by that rule since her first public walkabout with Prince Harry, in Nottingham in December, when the couple told fans: “We’re not allowed to do selfies.”

The Queen also holds a level of disdain for selfies, the newspaper adds. Former US ambassador Matthew Barzun told Tatler magazine in 2014 that Her Majesty finds them “disconcerting” and “strange”.

Going out alone

“Now that she’s joined one of the most famous families in the world, she will have to get used to being surrounded by top security at all times,” The Sun says.

“Heading out for a jog in the park by herself will have to be a memory of the past.”

As Harper’s Bazaar asks: “Have you ever seen the Duchess of Cambridge all by herself?”

Sign autographs

All members of the Royal Family are forbidden from awarding you the privilege of an autograph.

According to the Daily Express, the long-standing rule “remains in place for all royals because of the risk of the signature being forged”.

When asked to sign autographs, Prince Charles reportedly always responds with the same answer: “Sorry, they don’t allow me to do that.”

While on an official visit to Wales last year, Meghan appeared to be signing the autograph book of a young girl called Kaitlin.

However, the girl later revealed that Meghan had simply written “Hi Kaitlin” with a heart and a smiley face. 

Wear colourful or dark nail polish

Only natural-looking nail varnish is allowed on the royal hands at official events, says OK! Magazine. Dark or vividly coloured nails are reportedly considered to be “vulgar”.

According to nail polish giant Essie, Queen Elizabeth has worn its shade Ballet Slippers, a very subtle light pink, since 1989.

Use social media

Markle used to frequently post photos of her home, dogs, travels and food on Instagram, and shared information about her activism and charitable work and other interests on Twitter, reports ABC News.

However, protocol dictates that members of the Royal Family share details of royal engagements on the various official social media accounts operated by Kensington Palace, Clarence House and Buckingham Palace.

Meghan closed all of her own social media accounts and her blog, The Tig, a few months before her wedding.


“When someone marries into the Royal Family, their careers don’t often come with them,” says lifestyle website The List. “When Prince Philip married Queen Elizabeth some 70 years ago, he became her consort and remained one for over six decades, his biography explains.

“Prince Philip’s days were, and still are, filled with official duties,” the site adds, and these “crowded out the ability to lead a normal life”.

Markle appears to have adhered to this rule by quitting her role in hit US legal drama Suits. She explained her decision during a BBC News interview alongside Prince Harry, saying: “I don’t see it as giving anything up. I just see it as a change. It’s a new chapter.”

Harry added: “It’s not easy for anybody, but I know that at the end of the day she chooses me and I choose her and whatever we have to tackle together or individually will always be us together as a team, so I think she’s capable of anything.”


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