While all of the benefits of marrying into the royal family may be obvious and seem grand, the downsides are often overlooked. This even applies to Meghan Markle. So before you think she was into him for the title or the lifestyle, learn about all of the things she had to give up after saying “I do” to Prince Harry.
She did not have to maintain some of these rules for long, since the couple eventually pulled back from their royal duties and moved to the States. But read on to learn about all the things she had to give up in the name of love.
Her Independence Went Down The Drain
As if she wasn’t already popular enough, now that she’s married to someone so high-profile, Meghan basically can’t go anywhere in public without being noticed. Although she seems to be wanting to keep her private life private, like Princess Diana, it’s likely most of her attempts will be futile.
She is also escorted almost everywhere for her own safety which could easily blow her cover. But hey — you need that security team when you’re famous.
Her Acting Career Is No More
Her acting career also came to a screeching halt when she became involved with Prince Harry. Although she had established herself as a well-known actress, she has to put that all aside for her new royal career.
No one in the royal family holds a paid job outside of their royal philanthropic duties which would have made her acting career impossible. Some people speculate this could be part of the reason she and Harry stepped away from their royal duties.
A Personal Social Media Account Is A Thing Of The Past
For the most part, members of the royal family do not have personal social media accounts of any kind. However, Markle voluntarily deleted her Instagram and her blog, The Tig. She figured that they wouldn’t do anything but lead to problems in the future. It’s not like she needs to share more than will already be known.
Today, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have a joint Instagram account that the couple shares occasional updates through.
Her Personal Wardrobe Changed
Although she certainly isn’t told what to wear every day, there are strict guidelines as to what is okay for royals to wear and what’s not. There are colors that they are to avoid, pants are out of the question, and they favor certain designers. Although Markle hasn’t fully adhered to these rules, she didn’t have much of a choice when it comes to some styles.
We’ll take a closer look at Meghan’s wardrobe restrictions later.
Her Privacy Is A Thing Of The Past
After marrying into the royal family, everything about her life both past and present is at the will of the press. She isn’t able to keep any secrets and she’ll constantly be in the public eye.
She’ll be subjected to either constant ridicule or endless praise depending on her actions. If the Sussex family thought that their move to Los Angeles would help them lead more private lives, they might have been mistaken.
Freedom From Comparison
Whether she likes it or not, Markle has some big shoes to fill regarding current and former princesses such as Kate Middleton and Princess Diana. Her every move will be compared to others to see how she’s doing in her new position.
As we’ve seen repeatedly, anything said about Markle is typically followed up with something about Princess Diana or Kate Middleton. Even after leaving official royal duties behind, this still seems to be the case.
She Retained Her United States Citizenship
After she said “I do,” Meghan had planned to give up her United States citizenship. It would be a bit twisted if a member of the royal family was a citizen of another country. Although she’d be able to apply for dual citizenship, she was going to become a full United Kingdom citizen.
Since Harry and Meghan moved to California, she remained a United States citizen and her time in the UK was possible because of a visa.
Her Clothing Line Ceased Production
If you were unaware, at one point, Meghan Markle teamed up to do a clothing line with Reitmans. However, this partnership ended now that she’s assumed her new role in the royal family. There’s little chance any more of these clothes will be released so hold onto anything of hers if you were fortunate enough to get it in the first place!
However, in 2019 she unveiled a new charity clothing collection as part of her official duties as a royal.
She Couldn’t Voice Her Political Opinions
In the past, Meghan was vocal about things such as social issues and other activism. After marrying, she was much less outspoken about her beliefs because royals aren’t allowed to express their political beliefs to the public. Not only is it inappropriate, but it can be contradictory to Britain’s ideals.
After stepping back from official duties, Meghan has given speeches encouraging people to vote in the 2020 election, some of her most political activity since leaving her former life as “a commoner” behind.
She Wouldn’t Have Custody Of Her Child
Can you imagine not having custody of the child you just gave birth to? Well technically, that was the case for Meghan and Harry. Since Archie was born into the royal family, Queen Elizabeth II has custody of him, as well as the rest of her great-grandchildren.
British Royal Family Expert Marlene Koenig says, “The sovereign has legal custody of the minor grandchildren,” a rule that’s been instated since the early 1700s when King George I held the throne.
Being A Duchess Meant Giving Up Garlic And Onions
Being a duchess means giving up the garlic — oh, and onions while we’re at it. Queen Elizabeth II has such a disdain for garlic and onions that she mandates the entire family to forgo the ingredients.
The royal matriarch is known to hate garlic and onions because they cause bad breath, which is something no royal can risk having when talking to another dignitary. Fortunately, Meghan can probably eat whatever she likes now.
No More Personal Space
As a senior member of the royal family, Meghan had to get used to having personal bodyguards following her every move. She already experienced quite a decrease in personal space since first becoming engaged, and it didn’t get any better even after she and Harry departed their royal duties and moved.
The media continue to hound the couple and their son, so they’re still surrounded by bodyguards wherever they go.
New Husband, New Title
For the most part, when she joined the royal family Meghan had to say goodbye to her Christian name along with all of her other nicknames that she’s acquired over the years. Rather than causal introductions, she went by Her Royal Highness (HRH), the Duchess of Sussex.
Today, she goes by Rachel Meghan Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex. Many people are not aware that her birth name was Rachel Meghan Markle!
She Said Goodbye To Her House In Toronto
After scoring her role in the show Suits in 2011, she made her house in Toronto, Canada her new home. It’s luxurious and comfortable, and a home anyone would be happy to call their own. After their marriage, Meghan and Prince Harry moved into a royal cottage.
Today, their home is in Montecito, California. They also lived in Tyler Perry’s Beverly Hills estate for a while when they first arrived in the Golden State in 2020.
She Left One Of Her Dogs Behind
Meghan Markle loves Bogart, her dog, and previous roommate at her Canadian home. While most assumed that Bogart was going to get an upgrade to Nottingham Cottage, they were sadly mistaken. Bogart was now too old to make the trip and she has to regretfully leave him behind.
She did, however, bring her other dog named Guy with her. While in the UK, Guy sure loved getting spoiled with rides with the Queen!
Stepping Back In Their Duties
In January of 2020, Harry and Meghan made a surprising announcement on their official Instagram account: that they’d be pulling back from their activities as senior members of the royal family and instead pursuing the goal of becoming “financially independent” from the family.
“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year” the caption read, adding that they planned to “carve out a progressive new role within this institution.” This is the photo they posted when they made the life-changing announcement.
The Queen’s Initial Reaction To Harry And Meghan’s Withdrawal
In an announcement issued shortly after Harry and Meghan’s Instagram post outlining their new roles in the family, the Queen’s office of Buckingham Palace released its own statement, somewhat discrediting what the new parents had said.
“Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through,” it read. It seems that some of the issues are still being worked through.
She Had To Present Her Newborn To The World
When Princess Diana and Duchess Catherine had their children, they both presented the newborns publicly within hours of their birth, and Meghan was expected to do the same. However, she opted to buck tradition somewhat when it came time to become a mother herself.
Instead of a same-day debut, Prince Harry and Meghan instead waited two days before introducing their son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor to the world on May 8, 2019.
No More Selfies With Fans
Back when she was an actress, Meghan could take selfies with as many fans as she pleased. However, after her engagement to Prince Harry, this was forbidden. She has let the public know as to not seem rude when she denies them. She said that “The Crown doesn’t let me.”
Surely, this was a hard pill to swallow to her many fans. But they were probably able to understand the change.
Wow, Not Supposed To Cross Her Legs
This may not seem like a big trade-off to become royalty, but you cross your legs more than you think while sitting. When you’re a royal, there’s a certain way for women to sit: Legs and knees together, although she the ankles may be crossed.
There’s even a name for this seating style. It’s called the Duchess Slant! Although Meghan was spotted with her legs crossed on at least one occasion, but she quickly corrected her “mistake.”
No More Colored Nail Polish
Although from a style standpoint it might not have been preferred, it might have made Meghan Markle’s life easier knowing she wouldn’t have to concern herself with choosing polish colors anymore.
Much like clothing, there are strict rules for a royal’s nails as well. A member of the royal family is limited to neutral shades ranging from baby pinks to nudes. What’s the point of flashy nail colors when you’re wearing royal bling anyway?
No More Casual Cups Of Tea
Tea is already a big part of living in the United Kingdom. Yet, when you’re a royal, it’s an even bigger deal. Before having tea with the Queen, Markle was coached on the new way she was to hold her tea from now on.
However, Meghan did express her preferences in tea. In a special feature in Vogue, she revealed that she favors herbal infusions, such as mint, over the traditional English breakfast tea.
She Was Given A New Bedtime
Although it is not a law, the Windsors have established a precedent that Queen Elizabeth II determines the bedtime not just for herself, but for everybody. It doesn’t seem right to go to bed before Her Majesty.
Princess Diana was known to break this unspoken rule, which was considered in bad taste. Bedtime restrictions are probably not such an issue for Meghan anymore, as she and her family are in a completely different time zone than the Queen!
No More Autographs
Much like taking selfies, Meghan Markle was no longer allowed to sign any autographs for fans and royal watchers. However, it is for a logical reason.
The fear is that someone will get an autograph that can then be used for forgeries and security breaches. Hey, it’s better safe than sorry. Ruthless people will stop at nothing to try and make a quick buck off someone if given the opportunity.
Hope She Doesn’t Love Shellfish
Another thing that Meghan has given up is eating shellfish or any kind of messy food in general. As much as royals must look their best at all times, they must also look their best eating.
In addition, there is a higher chance of food poisoning with shellfish which is to be avoided in order to prevent illness while traveling. However, we’ve seen other members of the royal family break this “rule.” Prince Charles is supposedly a fan of raw oysters!
Speaking Of Eating…
When the new Duchess of Sussex dines with Elizabeth II, she (and everyone else present) are required to take a cue from the Queen. When the Queen says the meal is over, it’s over for everyone. Forks down, immediately!
Word has it that the Queen is very gracious about this rule and will take her time to make sure everyone else is finished with their meal before she ends things.
She Had To Carry A Bouquet Of Myrtle
Even if Meghan’s favorite flowers were red roses she had to include myrtle in her bouquet. Per tradition, every Royal wedding bouquet should contain some myrtle. These flowers come from a bush planted by Queen Victoria in 1845.
Harry also hand-picked a special addition for the bouquet: some Forget-Me-Nots. This was a tribute to his late mother Princess Diana, who loved the flowers. Luckily for Meghan, these flowers are lovely and can fit into just about any style.
PDA Is Frowned Upon
It seems that Meghan and Harry might not be able to contain their obvious love for each other while they’re in public, even they aren’t supposed to show any “PDA” at all.
There are plenty of photos of them breaking this royal tradition, frequently holding hands at public events. And hey, at least we have these commemorative mugs from the Royal Wedding to remind us how dreamy the couple is together.
No More Games For Meghan
It’s a good thing that Meghan’s new role as the Duchess of Sussex will keep her so busy since she’s not allowed to play Monopoly anymore. This is because the Duke of York finds the game distasteful and vicious (even a version as British as Beatles Monopoly?).
In fact, the only games that Meghan is likely to be involved with these days are The Invictus Games, one of Prince Harry’s charities. The Invictus Games provide a forum for ill or injured armed services personnel to compete in Olympic-level competition.
Wearing Black Is A No-No
In her former life as a famous actress, the lovely Meghan was frequently spotted in all-black dresses and ensembles. But wearing these outfits publicly became a no-no for the Duchess when she married into the royal family.
This one isn’t a hard set rule, just a guideline that most Royals tend to follow. Black is typically reserved for mourning. In fact, royals are supposed to bring a black outfit with them when they travel. Read on to see why.
…But She Was Expected To Bring A Black Outfit When She Traveled In An Official Capacity
When members of the Royal family travel, they are expected to pack a black outfit just on the off-chance that a relative or government official dies during their trip. This stems from when the Queen’s father died unexpectedly while she was abroad.
She was embarrassed not to have had any mourning clothes as she made the return to England. Instead, she had to wait on the airplane until someone brought her an appropriate outfit.
No More Walking Next To Harry
During the “Royal boot camp” Meghan went through before her wedding to Harry, she was given an extensive set of rules. One of these guidelines is that she should always walk a few steps behind her husband.
According to a former Royal butler who sat down with Town & County, “in tradition, a gent tends to walk a few steps in front to protect the lady, if you’re being very traditional and royals normally do lead the way.”
Becoming Emotional In Public = Out Of The Question
Meghan is a world-recognized actor already so this royal rule might not be too difficult for her to adjust to. Royals are to try their best from crying or becoming emotional in public. They are encouraged to remain happy, or at least neutral.
Meghan has always carried herself with composure and in a dignified way, so as already stated, this rule was likely not an issue for her at all as she transitioned to royal life.
No Tiaras Before 6:00 P.M.
This one isn’t exactly a big lifestyle change for Meghan since she just started wearing a tiara during her wedding ceremony. But as a member of the royal family, she’d need to remember that tiaras are considered too formal for daylight hours and should be reserved for evening events only.
In laid-back California, a tiara would probably be seen as pretty over-the-top anyway. We doubt she’s in danger of breaking the 6:00 rule there at all.
She Was Encouraged To Wear A Hat During The Daytime
We’ve already seen that Meghan did an excellent job embracing the royal family’s love of hats. And once she was officially married into the family, she was encouraged to sport a hat or fascinator at every formal daytime event.
After 6:00 she’d likely want to change into something more formal, but as stated before, it’s probably not terribly formal these days as she’s in casual California. Meghan knows full well how to look comfortable and chic at the same time.
She Had To Become A Code Reader
When she became an official royal, Meghan was expected to know how to read social cues from none other than the Queen herself. One of these is known as the “purse trick” and it relates to the rule that once the Queen is done eating, everyone is done eating. Approximately five minutes before she is ready to leave, the Queen will put her handbag on the table.
Those around her, Meghan included, are expected to understand this cue and prepare themselves to leave as well.
Voting Is Not Allowed
As mentioned earlier, this restriction was likely quite difficult for Meghan since she has always been so involved with social causes. But, as the parliament’s website says, “it is considered unconstitutional for the Monarch to vote in an election.”
The royal family must remain politically neutral, in public at least. Now that Meghan and Harry have taken a step back from their official roles, Meghan has been dipping her toes into political waters once again, encouraging Americans to exercise their right to vote.
No More Christmas Day Gifts
When Meghan became a royal, one of the ways her life was going to change is that she’d have to celebrate the holidays like the rest of the royal family does. They exchange their Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve, after a special holiday tea service.
The gifts are put out on display and opened in front of everyone. Typically the family exchanges humorous gag gifts for the occasion, a tradition everyone seems to enjoy.
She Has To Accept Every Gift Given To Her
Royal figures are frequently given gifts. They are committed to accepting every single gift presented to them, unless it’s a food item. Further, they must release an annual list of every gift they received during the year.
Meghan received her first official Royal gift in 2017: an apron that Prince William accepted on her and Harry’s behalf on a trip to Finland. Pictured here are Harry and Meghan accepting a gift while visiting South Africa.
Meghan Won’t Necessarily Be Allowed To Keep Her Gifts
Although all members of the royal family are expected to accept any gifts they’re given, they don’t necessarily get to keep them. Instead, they give any gifts they receive to the Queen, who then decides what to do with them.
According to the Daily Mirror, she can choose what to do with the items, whether it’s to incorporate them into the Royal Collection, donate them to charity, store them, or discard them.
She Must Stand When The Queen Stands
This rule is certainly no surprise but could be intimidating to someone who is a new member of the royal family.
Anytime the Queen stands, everyone must stand. Meghan must also curtsy whenever she greets the Queen. Essentially, no one can act like a “normal” person when they’re around the Queen of England and must learn all the proper protocols when it comes to interacting with her! It’s not an easy life.
Absolutely No Cleavage!
As we mentioned earlier, there should be absolutely no cleavage on display by any member of the royal family. Meghan adjusted her fashion choices to fit in with her new family but back in her acting days she really wowed in some spectacularly racy dresses.
This striking silver choice was absolutely appropriate for an L.A. Awards event but would likely drop some jaws if she decided to wear it next time she and Prince Harry visit Buckingham Palace!
She Gave Up The Right To A Gender-Reveal Baby Shower
The “gender reveal” party or shower has become an increasingly common event among expecting parents. Meghan did not participate in anything like this when she and Harry decided to have children together. This isn’t a strict rule, just a tradition of the royals to keep a baby’s gender secret until it is born and officially announced.
Meghan’s friends did throw her a baby shower, though, during a surprise trip she made to New York City!
Meghan Cannot Go Out Bare-Legged
At least she’ll still be able to show off those great legs… just in some skirts that aren’t quite so short and with stockings or another type of legwear underneath. When Kate Middleton stepped into the international spotlight she helped to bring pantyhose back in style, so hopefully this is a transition that was relatively easy for Meghan to make.
It is difficult to imagine that she’s carrying on the tradition now in sunny California, however.
Royals Cannot Wear Fur
This rule was put into place by King Edward III in 1337. His ban has been broken a few times but it’s unlikely Meghan will ever wear fur. A known animal-lover, Markle doesn’t support the use of genuine animal goods in fashion, instead preferring vegan leather and fake fur as seen here.
In fact, Markle revealed in a 2016 interview that she tries to maintain a vegan diet during the week, though she does splurge on the weekends when she feels like it.