As soon as rumours started swirling back in October 2016 that HRH Prince Harry was allegedly dating American actor Meghan Markle, we knew this wasn’t going to be any old fairytale romance. After a whirlwind courtship that included overnight dates to Botswana, nights out in London’s West End, Christmas with the Queen, a seriously gorge wedding and a plethora of adorable public engagements, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex welcomed a baby boy—Master Archie—in early May.
While the couple quickly drew comparisons to our other royal faves—Prince William and Duchess Kate—the truth is that #Harkle are on a path of their own, one that includes shaking up the monarchy. Because like Amber Moore in A Christmas Prince, HRH Meghan Markle has been making some *big* changes in the royal fam since she first came on the scene. From public (and palace official) confirmations of their romance to keeping the birth of their first child private, it’s safe to say that the royal family isn’t—and will never be—the same. A year after their fairytale wedding, we look back at all of their tiny acts of resistance. Some may be blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shifts, but that doesn’t mean that they’re any less important.
We salute you, #Harkle—and Vive La Resistance!
May 28, 2019: Meghan skips the meet-n-greet with President Trump
Not only is Meghan the queen of our hearts, but she’s now the newest queen of throwing shade. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are set to kick-off a three day visit to the U.K. in early June, with a scheduled meeting with the royal fam planned for June 3. That is, everyone in the royal fam except HRH Meghan Markle. Per reports, the Queen, Prince Charles, Duchess Camilla, Prince William and Duchess Kate will be at Buckingham Palace for Trump’s welcome ceremony, and later that day, Prince Harry will have a private lunch with the president. The following day, Trump will meet for tea with William and Kate.
Meghan is *still* technically on maternity leave and hasn’t been attending any public events since Archie’s birth on May 6, but we can’t help but seriously cackle at what can easily be viewed as subtle, yet potent, shade. Especially since in 2016, Meghan supported Hillary Clinton and slammed Trump in an interview on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.
There has been no official statement detailing the reason for Meghan’s absence, but we can speculate that if say, former President and all-around #zaddy Barack Obama was visiting, the Duchess would’ve been there FOR SURE.
May 8, 2019: Choosing their BB’s name
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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are pleased to announce they have named their first born child: Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor This afternoon Their Royal Highnesses introduced Her Majesty The Queen to her eighth great-grandchild at Windsor Castle. The Duke of Edinburgh and The Duchess’ mother were also present for this special occasion. Photo credit: Chris Allerton ©️SussexRoyal
While the jury’s still out on whether or not we’re *actually* fans of the Royal couple’s homage to Riverdale, there’s no denying that the newest royal baby is very, very cute. And like his parents, he’s already making waves. On May 8, just two days after he was born, the world learned the BBs name: Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. While Archie is already a departure from the typical royal baby names (all bets were on Phillip and Arthur), it’s his last name that’s really shocking people.
Usually, royals only get surnames—like Mountbatten-Windsor—when they won’t be receiving a title. According to the BBC, Archie “could have become Earl of Dumbarton—one of Harry’s subsidiary titles—or have been Lord Archie Mountbatten-Windsor [but] Harry and Meghan have chosen not to use a title for their firstborn,” something the network’s royal correspondent, Jonny Dymond says is a “strong indication that they don’t want to bring him up as a formal ‘royal.’”
April 11, 2019: Nixing the post-birth public photocall
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Today The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are delighted to share their first public moment as a family. They are so incredibly grateful for the warm wishes and support they’ve received from everyone around the world, since welcoming their son two days ago. Photo cred: Chris Allerton ©️SussexRoyal
Just weeks before the arrival of their little bundle of joy, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex released a statement announcing their decision to keep the plans around the birth of their baby “private.” This decision meant that the royal couple refrained from disclosing exactly *where* Meg would be giving birth, and would not be doing an official, large-scale photocall shortly after the birth. (You know, that whole thing where Duchess Kate had to be dolled up and camera-ready literally hours after bringing a new life into the world.)
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very grateful for the goodwill they have received from people throughout the United Kingdom and around the world as they prepare to welcome their baby,” the statement read. “Their Royal Highnesses have taken a personal decision to keep the plans around the arrival of their baby private. The Duke and Duchess look forward to sharing the exciting news with everyone once they have had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family.”
While keeping the location of your birth and not posing for a photoshoot literally minutes after giving birth seems normal AF for us plebes, for the royal fam, it’s a right of passage. Duchess Kate has posed for photos after the birth of all three of her children; and while we seriously commend her for doing so, we’re also seriously applauding HRH Meghan for putting herself, her body and her healing first. Labour is overwhelming enough, so no one—especially the press—is entitled to any part of it.
March 14, 2019: Establishing their own Insta (oh yeah, and household)
On March 14, the Queen announced that the Cambridges (Kate and Wills) and the Sussexes would be *officially* separating their royal houses. While there have been rumours that the split was due to tension between the couples, the move makes sense for the newlyweds. According to royal correspondent Rebecca English, the Duke of Sussex had long wanted to relocate to, “escape the goldfish bowl of royal life for the sake of his marriage and his unborn child.” The move would also give the Sussexes the chance to focus on their own causes and initiatives. Many took the move as a true sign of lil Harry *officially* being all grown up (*tear*).
Relatedly, the couple also created their own Instagram account (@sussexroyal) on April 2, which if you ask us, was an even more clear assertion of their independence.
March 13, 2019: The news that Baby Sussex will be a feminist
Meghan Markle has long been a supporter of women across the world, so it’s no surprise that the royal would publicly announce her intention to raise her future BB the same. Speaking on a panel for International Women’s Day, HRH said, “It’s funny, I’d actually been joking these past few weeks; I’d seen this documentary on Netflix about feminism and one of the things they said during pregnancy was, ‘I feel the embryonic kicking of feminism.’ I loved that. So boy or girl, whatever it is, we hope that that’s the case.”
We stan a feminist Queen.
December 2, 2018: Addressing the “feud”
Once again, the palace was forced to address personal relationships within the royal fam, but this time, between its two leading ladies: the Duchesses. Since pretty much the moment Meg was introduced into the fab four, rumours of a rift between her and Katherine Middleton have been swirling. The rumours really kicked in to high hear after the announcement that #Harkle would be moving out of Kensington Palace and into Frogmore Cottage. (There have also been rumours of “explosive arguments” and talk of Meghan “berating” Kate’s staff.)
“This never happened,” a spokesperson for Kensington Palace reportedly told The Sun about the alleged argument.
This is far from the first time there’s been rumours of a royal cat fight. In the late 1980s Harry and William’s mom, Princess Diana, was reported to be in a “catfight” with her sister-in-law Fergie the Duchess of York. While it seems like the two were actually BFFs by all accounts, the palace never spoke out about their feud, making the royals’ recent comments pretty monumental—and indicative of a desire to set the record straight.
November 24, 2018: The couple announces their move to Frogmore Cottage
No newlyweds want to live with their in-laws, even if we’re talking about their brother and sister-in-law. In November 2018, Kensington Palace confirmed that Harry and Meghan would be leaving their residence at Nottingham Cottage—which is located on the grounds of Kensington Palace—in favour of Frogmore Cottage, which is located at Windsor Castle. Previously, royal experts speculated that the couple would move into the 21-bedroom apartment next door to Will and Kate’s Kensington Palace pad, so this announcement was kind of a big deal.
Kensington Palace confirm my story that The Duke and Duchess of Sussex #HarryandMeghan will move out of KP next year to Frogmore Cottage as their official residence. Their office will continue to be at Kensington Palace with the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge. pic.twitter.com/yzvcv7d75W
— Emily Andrews (@byEmilyAndrews) November 24, 2018
According to a statement by Kensington Palace, “Windsor is a very special place for Their Royal Highnesses and they are grateful that their official residence will be on the estate. The Duke and Duchess’s official office will continue to be based at Kensington Palace.”
The move was the first in many steps the couple has taken towards asserting their independence and individuality, instead of being lumped in with the Cambridges.
October 28, 2018: Meg’s empowering speech about feminism
While visiting New Zealand, Meghan gave an empowering AF speech on feminism to celebrate the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in that country. Meghan has always advocated for women’s rights and is a staunch feminist, but her speech marked one of the few times the royal family has spoken out in support of such a current—and unfortunately still contested—topic.
"Feminism is about fairness”👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/1ELhftxVAs
— Omid Scobie (@scobie) October 28, 2018
October 27, 2018: The couple posts a personal photo and message on Instagram
Once more proving that they’re truly ushering the royal fam into the digital age, #Harkle shared an intimate photo of Prince Harry preparing for his Invictus Games speech taken by the duchess. The black and white photo was a real departure from the royal fam’s usual posts. While Duchess Kate has been sharing photos of her children on their birthdays for the past four years, they seem *very* staged and official in comparison to this candid snap, which allowed us to see the behind-the-scenes of the royal couple. Also, how much do we love imagining Meghan as a proud stage mom, à la Kris Jenner?
May 19, 2018: The wedding
The wedding of the century—don’t @ us!! Not only was everyone thrilled to see the people’s prince marry his American lady love, many people were also thrilled about the way this wedding went down. That is, completely unlike any royal wedding that came before it. From the wedding cake—which was elderflower instead of a traditional fruitcake—to the amazing gospel choir (who sang “Stand by Me“), to the fiery reverend (the first African-American to head a U.S. Episcopal church) who preached about love as the way, to Meghan walking herself halfway down the aisle as a show of independence, #Harkle’s wedding was truly the perfect blending of their two cultures.
— Lungisa Xhamela (@Lungisamusiq) May 19, 2018
It was modern, intimate, a true celebration of Blackness—and clearly completely different from anything the royals—and the world—had ever seen (as evidenced by the royal fam’s reactions, which are hilarious). And that? Was truly empowering.
It should be noted for US audiences that expressing emotion in a Church of England service is technically heresy.
— James Ball (@jamesrbuk) May 19, 2018
December 25, 2017: Meghan’s first Christmas at Sandringham
Proving once more that the modern royal couple isn’t terribly interested in rule-following, Meghan spent the Christmas holidays with the royal fam, even attending Christmas morning church service with them. You guys, this was big. Typically, fiancées aren’t invited to spend the holiday with the royals; in fact, in 2010 Duchess Kate spent the Christmas after her engagement with her family in Berkshire.
Allegedly, Harry said GTFO to that ridic rule and asked the Queen permission to invite his bride-to-be.
December 23, 2017: The Blackamoor brooch affair
Okay, this one isn’t strictly about Meghan and Harry’s actions—but it’s a clear sign of their influence. So, racism and colonialism are unavoidable parts of any story about the British royal family, right? But in December 2017, they *finally* had to actively apologize for it. Here’s what went down: on December 23, Princess Michael of Kent was spotted rolling up to a holiday lunch at Buckingham Palace wearing a seriously inappropriate piece of jewellery. The royal family member showed up at the luncheon sporting a Blackmoor brooch, a decorative style that exoticizes Black people—and, btw, is offensive AF. The princess’s accessory choice seemed particularly offensive considering Markle—who is mixed-race—was in attendance.
Appalling show of disrespect and jealousy from Princess Michael of Kent. She has never gotten over being the "foreigner not really welcome into the family" Meghan however will be welcomed with open arms and adored by everyone.
— The Royal Chef (@DarrenMcGrady) December 22, 2017
(Though, FWIW, the brooch would have been majorly inappropriate even if Meghan wasn’t there.)
In response to the social media backlash, which labeled the royal as racist or at least seriously out of touch, the princess issued a statement via her representative, saying, “The brooch was a gift and had been worn many times before. Princess Michael is very sorry and distressed that it has caused offense.”
Gift or not, the ease with which Princess Michael was able to throw on a racist brooch, with seemingly no thought about *why* this might be offensive, speaks volumes to the status quo in the family. Would she have been called out if Meghan—then a Duchess-to-be wasn’t a part of the royal fam? We don’t know, but we seriously doubt it. Still, her apology does feel like a step in the right direction.
Bonus: Meghan’s wardrobe
Meghan Markle has always been a fashion plate, but her devotion to style doesn’t always mesh with the royal family’s *very* specific style rules. From her pantyhose-free engagement photos, to (initially) wearing a cross body bag (the royals prefer a quaint clutch), to rocking dark burgundy nails (not the required nude), to sporting sleeveless and off-the-shoulder dresses, Meghan has made it clear that (archaic) royal rules be damned, she’s going to dress how she wants. And we love it.
November 27, 2017: The engagement portraits
By this point, we already knew the couple was seriously chic, and their engagement photos confirmed it. In comparison to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who looked seriously youthful in the 2010 photos, Meg and Harry went the editorial route, choosing to pose in a series of shots that literally looked straight out of a magazine. Perhaps styled by her overseas bestie Jessica Mulroney, the duchess-to-be opted for high fashion over formality with a sheer, full-length Ralph & Russo gown. All of the choices presented the royal couple in a modern and intimate light.
September 6, 2017: Meghan opens up to Vanity Fair
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) September 5, 2017
Just under a year after the world *officially* found out about their love, Meghan Markle graced the October 2017 cover of Vanity Fair magazine in a story detailing their relationship. In the story, titled “Meghan Markle, Wild About Harry!” Meghan talked about her upbringing, her time on Suits—and of course, her whirlwind romance with royalty.
“We’re a couple. We’re in love. I’m sure there will be a time when we will have to come forward and present ourselves and have stories to tell, but I hope what people will understand is that this is our time,” Meghan told the magazine. “This is for us. It’s part of what makes it so special, that’s just ours. But we’re happy. Personally, I love a great love story.”
Same girl, same. More importantly? We love a good *public* love story. Perhaps by virtue of Meghan being an actress, or because of the intense media scrutiny on the couple, *or* the fact that the royal couple are young, hip, modern and cool, Meghan’s interview was a first for the royal fam.
November 8, 2016: *That* statement
The moment that started it all. On November 8, 2016, Prince Harry confirmed *all* the rumours swirling around his love life by issuing an official statement about the treatment of his then-girlfriend by the British press. In a statement by his personal communications secretary, the Prince noted the warmth he’d previously received from the press, especially focusing on his work and causes he cares about. “But the past week has seen a line crossed,” the statement said. “His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public—the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments. Some of it has been hidden from the public—the nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers; her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door; the attempts of reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry to her home and the calls to police that followed; the substantial bribes offered by papers to her ex-boyfriend; the bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker, and loved one in her life.”
The statement then went on to say that Harry feared for Meghan’s safety and was “deeply disappointed that he could not protect her.”
The prince’s post wasn’t only gallant AF, but completely unprecedented for the royal fam, who typically refrain from directly addressing the private life of a family member. According to Forbes, the statement was the first time a spokesperson for the family had used such “direct and outspoken language.” According to some royal experts, the palace’s decision to issue a forthright statement was evidence of the fam’s increasingly proactive approach with the media. Before his statement about Meghan, Harry had never made a public statement about his love life.
A few weeks later, Prince William himself weighed in on the debacle, releasing his own statement to clear up rumours that he was unhappy with Harry’s decision to speak out publicly about his relationship. It said: “The Duke of Cambridge absolutely understands the situation concerning privacy and supports the need for Prince Harry to support those closest to him.”