The Duke and Duchess of Sussex reportedly want this trip to be as informal as possible.
We’re only a day into Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s royal tour of southern Africa, and there’s already some gossip. If you’ve been following the couple’s adventures today in Cape Town, then you no doubt have seen their pics with some of the locals. They’re hugging people, shaking hands, laughing, and dancing—all things that are relatively informal by royal standards. This is reportedly an intentional move on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s part. Katie Nicholl, a royals expert, wrote this week that Markle and Prince Harry are wanting this trip to have “minimal fuss, formality, or protocol.”
“This isn’t a holiday, and they don’t want it to look like one,” a source tells VF. “This has been months in the planning, and a lot of hard work has gone into the schedule. Their royal highnesses want to do some serious work on the ground, particularly at a community level.”
Check out just a few pics from the trip, below:
Locals allegedly don’t have to worry about greeting Markle or Prince Harry in any specific way. “It’s very much how they want things done,” the source continues to VF. “There is no protocol that says you have to bow or curtsy when you meet them; it’s really up to the individual.”
Why the couple is approaching their tour like this is unclear. Some sources say it’s to get their popularity back on track after a few weeks of bad press. (Meghan Markle and Prince Harry garnered criticism in August for chartering a private jet on holiday despite their environmental activism. Harry later addressed the controversy, saying he mostly flies commercial but sometimes has to make exceptions—and he always offsets his CO2 in those cases.)
Regardless, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s move to be more informal in southern Africa is confusing some officials. “I have no idea how to speak to them,” Jacky Poking, secretary of the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association, said to South Africa’s Sunday Times. “We haven’t received any official brief on etiquette. I think that’s because the Sussexes want to keep it informal. I don’t even know how to greet them.”
If these reports hold water, I have a feeling Meghan and Harry don’t really care how anyone greets them. I think Poking can rest easy.