When Meghan Markle met Her late Majesty for the first time in October 2016, she had no idea when she dressed that day that an introduction to the Queen was on the agenda. Her outfit choice—jeans and a black sweater—was planned for a casual Sunday lunch in Windsor, with no plans of seeing the sovereign. But, when the Queen stopped by Royal Lodge unexpectedly to join their lunch, Meghan had no time to prepare, Prince Harry writes in his forthcoming memoir Spare—and had to wing it, including learning how to curtsy on the fly.
Harry writes that the couple were heading to lunch when they “got word” that the Queen was there, stopping by Royal Lodge—home of Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson—“on her way from church back to the castle.” Meghan, who had only planned to meet Ferguson for the first time that day, was initially excited about meeting Harry’s grandmother, telling him “Fun! I love grandmas.” Harry quickly informed his girlfriend that this wouldn’t exactly be an ordinary “meet the family” moment: “You’re about to meet the Queen,” he told her, asking her if she knew how to curtsy. When Meghan “shook her head” Ferguson gave her a quick tutorial immediately after arriving at Royal Lodge.
When they entered the home, Harry saw his “Granny” was wearing a “brightly colored dress and matching hat”—a sea change from Meghan’s casual outfit. “I could see Meg regretting her jeans and black sweater,” he writes. “I was also regretting my shabby trousers. We didn’t plan. I wanted to tell Granny, but she was busy asking about Meghan’s visit.”
Despite the fashion faux paus, as Us Weekly reports, the meeting went well. Harry writes in Spare “after 20 minutes, Granny announced she had to be going…She locked eyes with Meg, gave a wave and a warm smile.”
However, when Meghan met Harry’s father, then Prince Charles, she was more prepared. Apparently the now King doesn’t approve of women who wear too much makeup, so Harry instructed Meghan to tone hers down for their first introduction at Clarence House, Charles’ home.
“Meg looked beautiful,” Harry writes, adding that for this introduction, Meghan wore a “full skirt, patterned with flowers.”
Harry also told his then-girlfriend how to wear her hair, saying “Pa [Charles] likes it when women wear their hair down.” He also added that was the Queen’s preference as well, and that she often commented on “Kate’s beautiful mane.”
For this meetup, Harry also had time to prepare Meghan on proper greeting protocol, Us Weekly reports.
“Meg and I had rehearsed this moment several times,” he writes. “For Pa, curtsy. Say ‘Your Royal Highness’ or ‘Sir.’”
He told Meghan to give Charles a kiss if he “leans in,” and a handshake if he doesn’t. For Charles’ wife, then the Duchess of Cornwall and now Queen Consort Camilla, Harry told Meghan a curtsy wasn’t necessary, which shocked her. “You sure?” she asked.
“I didn’t think it appropriate,” Harry writes.
Harry and Meghan enjoyed a pleasant evening with Charles and Camilla, where conversation turned to their shared love of dogs.
“Meg talked about her two ‘fur babies,’ Bogart and Guy, both of whom were rescues,” Harry writes.
Rachel Burchfield is a writer whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family. In addition to serving as the royal editor at Marie Claire, she has worked with publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. She cohosts Podcast Royal, a show that provides candid commentary on the biggest royal family headlines and offers segments on fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and lifestyle.
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