Oh Meghan and Harry, how we've missed you. Last night, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made their first joint return to the public eye when they attended the Endeavour Fund Awards at London's Mansion House, and we loved having them back.
One thing we couldn't help but notice was how refreshed the pair seem now they have taken the decision to step away from life as full-time working royals (plus, how gorgeous Meghan Markle looked in her vibrant blue Victoria Beckham pencil dress). But those weren't the only things that drew our attention yesterday - there also seemed to be a notable difference in the way the Sussexes conducted themselves.
Typically, when it comes to greeting members of the public, the royal family keep defined boundaries in place. For Meghan and Harry, during official engagements we've usually seen them shake hands or - for more familiar people - share a brief hug (see here and here). But last night seemed different.
As you'll spot in the video of the Endeavour Fund Award highlights that was posted on the Sussex Royal Instagram account, the Duke and Duchess made a habit of greeting people with a close embrace and a kiss on both cheeks. Is this part of the new life for Meghan and Harry, that means they're not so rigidly bound by royal tradition?
As it states on the official royal website, "there are no obligatory codes of behaviour when meeting The Queen or a member of the Royal Family". That said, usually people tend to "observe the traditional forms".
For men, the traditional etiquette is "a neck bow (from the head only)", while women tend to do "a small curtsy". Alternatively, the website notes, "other people prefer simply to shake hands in the usual way."
But now Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are on the countdown to relinquishing their roles as senior members of the royal family, perhaps these guidelines are something that no longer affect them.
Having said that, it might be a case of having to wait and see whether there's any ongoing change to the way the Sussexes conduct themselves as private citizens. This was the third year in a row that the couple attended the Endeavour Fund Awards. which celebrates injured members of the Armed Forces Community who have gone on to use sport and adventurous challenge as part of their recovery. So it might just be that they were greeting particularly familiar people in the video, with whom they have built close relationships.
The Duke and Duchess will remain in the UK until at least Monday, when they'll attend the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, alongside brother and sister-in-law Prince William, Kate Middleton and numerous other senior members of royalty. Between now and then, there won't be much downtime, as the couple have several other official engagements as they see out their last weeks representing Queen and country.
From April 1, neither Meghan nor Harry will carry out official engagements on behalf of Queen Elizabeth. While they keep their Duke and Duchess titles as a formality, they will not be allowed to use the word 'royal' as part of their Sussex Royal branding, so will be making changes to their official Instagram page and their website in due course.
For now, we'll just enjoy having them back in the UK, even if it is brief.
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