NEWS
27/11/2017 16:22 GMT | Updated 27/11/2017 17:12 GMT

How Harry And Meghan Are Already Bucking Royal Traditions

Touchy feely!

Prince Harry and his bride-to-be Meghan Markle’s first appearance since the announcement of their engagement was a surprisingly loved-up affair.

Giggling and apparently gripped by a sudden bout of shyness, Prince Harry and the American actress stepped out briefly in front of the cameras hand-in-hand in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace.

The couple answered a few questions from gathered reporters, but other than Markle leaning close to her prince and remarking that it was “very romantic”, they kept silent on the details of the proposal.

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So in love: Prince and Harry and Meghan Markle on the day their engagement was announced 
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Touchy feely: The couple seemed to pay little mind to royal protocol 

In contrast, William and Kate’s first appearance after the announcement of their engagement was a markedly staid affair.

In 2010, the couple were filmed walking into a state room at St James’s Palace amid a storm of camera flashes.  

Middleton loosely linked arms with her fiancé, with her engagement ring on display. The ring in question – an opal blue sapphire surrounded by diamonds - used to belong to his mother, Princess Diana, with William telling reporters: “It was my way of making sure my mother didn’t miss out on today.”

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Formal: Prince William and Kate Middleton at a photocall for their engagement in 2010
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Close: Prince Harry and Meghan at the Invictus Games in September in Toronto 

Since then, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been distinctly conservative about any public shows of affection, and have rarely been seen holding hands.

Meanwhile Harry and Meghan have been seen holding hands, whispering and even sharing kisses – most notably at the Invictus Games closing ceremony in September – though royal watchers will point out the kiss pictures in particular were taken with a long lens camera and that at the time Harry was not on “royal duty”.  

Nor were Harry’s parents Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana ones for demonstrating their affections. During their infamously awkward engagement interview in 1981, when asked if they were in love, Diana immediately replied: “Of course!” while the Queen’s eldest son replied: “Whatever ‘in love’ means.”

While there are no official rules about public displays of intimacy (indeed Buckingham Palace has previously denied instructing people on not touching the Queen), etiquette experts say a strong sense of decorum is nonetheless firmly ingrained within the royal family.

When working as representatives of the monarchy, the royals tend to remain professional and sedate as they are technically “on duty.”

Indeed the monarch herself is famously neither touchy nor feely and it was considered a furore when in 1992 the then Australian prime minister Paul Keating put his arm around the Queen’s waist during an official visit. He was later denounced as the ‘Lizard of Oz’ for his faux pas.

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Faux pas: Paul Keating was roundly pilloried for putting his arm around the Queen during an official visit 
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Not amused: Mirth was made when Tony Blair gripped the Queen's hand to sing Auld Lang Syne 
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Cosy: The Queen famously embraced then First Lady Michelle Obama 

There were similar gasps of dismay when Tony Blair seized the Queen’s hand at the opening of the Millennium Dome, pumping it up and down to the strains of Auld Lang Syne.

However there have been signs of a thaw in royal protocol in recent years. In 2009 the Queen famously embraced then First Lady Michelle Obama at a G-20 reception and indeed last year Harry and Michelle embraced warmly at the Invictus Games in Orlando.

This year, Prince Charles and Camilla also demonstrated the blue bloods were warming up by sharing a rare public kiss as they were formally welcomed to Singapore. 

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Give us a kiss: Prince Charles and Camilla pictured in Singapore in October