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?
Tonight in London, for their third consecutive year, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attended the annual Endeavour Fund Awards, which celebrates the achievements of those veterans injured in service who have taken part in remarkable sporting and adventure challenges over the last year. By choosing to take on what seems impossible, these men and women not only set goals for themselves but have also inspired millions of people around the world. These annual awards bring together The Duke and The Duchess alongside wounded, injured and sick Service personnel and veterans as well as their families, friends and supporters of the military community. The Duke, who founded the @EndeavourFund, spoke on the night: • “The Endeavour Fund came from seeing the gaping hole that can be left after taking off that uniform. The power that sport and adventurous challenge plays in recovery, yes; but most of all - the chance to be part of a team again while attempting to achieve unthinkable challenges - as if being shot or blown up wasn’t enough, you guys continue to impress, inspire and challenge what it means to have a life changing injury.” • Since its launch in 2012, the Endeavour Fund has supported 108 projects that have directly assisted over 6,000 of those injured in service. Congratulations to all those who participated in endeavours over the last year and inspired others to push the boundaries of what’s possible! #EndeavorFundAwards
A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on Mar 5, 2020 at 2:34pm PST
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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