In July of 2016, Meghan Markle found her prince. After being set up by a mutual friend, she and Prince Harry had their first date in a private room in London's SoHo House. A few weeks later, they were flying to Africa together for an intimate safari. It was, as they say, history.
As she’d learn in the ensuing months, finding your literal prince comes with some strings attached. Markle is a trailblazer in many respects, but she still must abide by basic royal etiquette protocol. So far, Markle has seemed to take every sacrifice and lifestyle change required of her in stride. For one, she can't be as politically outspoken as she had been pre-Harry — but at least her association with the Crown will give her a powerful platform to continue her philanthropical pursuits. This is a sampling of what she'll have to give up in order to cross that royal threshold on 19th May, the day of the Royal Wedding.
1. She can't cuddle with her dog, Bogart.
If you’re the kind of person who cried during Marley and Me, look away now. Back in Canada, Meghan Markle had two beloved rescue dogs: Guy, a beagle, and Bogart, a Labrador-shepherd mix. Unfortunately, Bogart was too old to make the journey to London and adjust to a new home. Bogart is living with Markle’s friends back in North America, whereas Guy gets to live in London and prance among the royal corgis.
2. She can't post travel photos her lifestyle blog, The Tig.
With The Tig, a lifestyle blog named for Markle’s favorite wine, Markle proved herself to be an aspiring Gwyneth Paltrow. The Tig was a "hub for the discerning palate — those with a hunger for food, travel, fashion, and beauty." But now that she’s a royal, she can’t have the Tig. She shut down the blog in 2018, along with her social media accounts. The internet blackout was a clear signal her relationship with Harry was serious.
Markle wrote in the last post, "To all my Tig friends: After close to three beautiful years on this adventure with you, it's time to say goodbye to The Tig. What began as a passion project (my little engine that could) evolved into an amazing community of inspiration, support, fun and frivolity. You've made my days brighter and filled this experience with so much joy. Keep finding those Tig moments of discovery, keep laughing and taking risks, and keep being 'the change you wish to see in the world.' Above all, don't ever forget your worth — as I've told you time and time again: you, my sweet friend, you are enough."
3. She can’t take selfies with fans.
I’m sure many celebrities wish they had this excuse to get out of taking selfies with fans without seeming rude. “Sorry,” Meghan Markle can say, with a friendly shrug. “The Crown doesn’t let me.” It’s the equivalent of my saying, “My mum doesn’t let me go to parties,” when I was a socially awkward 13-year-old.
4. She can’t wear coloured nail polish.
The last time I got a manicure, I stood in front of the wall of colours for a good five minutes, paralysed by choice. Which indistinguishable pink should I see on my nails for the next week? Markle’s choice is much easier. She can’t be tempted into turquoise. Royal protocol dictates that women are only able to wear baby pink or nudes. That’s why Queen Elizabeth II has been wearing Essie’s Ballet Slipper for decades.
5. She can’t have social media accounts.
In January of 2018, the internet lost three social media accounts.: Markle's Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Alas, the future royal had to follow palace protocol and cross over the to the pre-social media age. The only images we’ll get of Markle will be the official, Kensington Palace-approved ones.
6. She can’t cross her legs.
When you’re a royal, there’s a “right” way to do everything, including sit. Women in the royal family must keep their legs and knees together while sitting, though they can cross their ankles. The “Duchess Slant” is a popular pose among royal women. You can see pictures of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Princess Diana slanting their legs to a slight angle.
7. She can’t hold a teacup indelicately.
Afternoon tea is an important tradition, but it’s extra important among royals. Markle was coached before having afternoon tea with the Queen. Etiquette expert Myka Meier told People the proper way to hold a teacup involves pinching the top of the handle with your thumb and forefinger, and resting the bottom of the handle on your middle finger. Markle must always drink from the same spot, so her lipstick doesn’t spread.
8. She can’t vote.
If you've seen The Crown, you know the complicated relationship the royals have with the government. Are they involved? Are they not? It's a constant negotiation. Even though Markle will eventually become a British citizen, she won’t be participating in any elections. The royal family remains politically neutral and does not vote. The U.K. Parliament website reads, “Although not prohibited by law, it is considered unconstitutional for the Monarch to vote in an election.” The same goes for the rest of the family.
9. She can’t be political at all, for that matter.
Once, Markle was vocal about her political opinions. She posted a photo of Hillary Clinton on Instagram, and wrote a long message in the vein of “I’m With Her.” She also spoke out against Brexit. Now that she’s a royal, she’ll no longer be able to voice her political opinions.
10. She can't eat shellfish.
When Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited Rome in 2000, they weren't allowed to eat long pastas or messy tomato sauces. Royals must look good at all times, including while eating. And one quick route to looking really, really bad? Food poisoning. Royal protocol bans royals from eating shellfish, rare meet, or overly spicy food — especially while travelling — in order to avoid any awkwardness.
11. She can't go out alone.
12. She shouldn't go to bed before the Queen.
Every family has idiosyncratic customs, but the Windsors' are particularly rigid. In an interview with The Australian, Sir William Heseltine, one of the Queen’s private secretaries, revealed an interesting tidbit of palace life. According to Heseltine, Queen Elizabeth II determines bedtime. “Nobody felt it right to go to bed before the Queen did,” Heseltine said. Diana, he recalled, often broke protocol and retired earlier, “which was thought to be rather bad form.”
13. She can't give autographs.
When Prince Charles is asked for autographs, his go-to response is, "Sorry, they don't allow me to do that." They, the royal machine, are afraid autographs will be used for forgeries and security breaches.
14. She can't go out without nude tights.
During her engagement photoshoot, Markle broke with tradition, big time. She didn’t wear nude stockings. And, as royal correspondent Victoria Arbiter recently told Insider, “You never see a royal without their nude stockings.” Of all the rules, this is one that the Queen is a stickler about. “I would say that’s really the only hard, steadfast rule in terms of what the Queen requires,” Arbiter said. As of May 2018, Markle has incorporated nude tights into her wardrobe. The royal transformation has begun.
15. She can't act.