The Royal Tradition Prince Harry Broke When He Married Meghan Markle

Before stepping down as senior members of the British royal family, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have broken their share of palace protocol. In March 2020, for instance, at least one image from their 2022 Netflix series, "Harry & Meghan," was shot inside Buckingham Palace, despite filming and photography for commercial purposes being banned there without permission, per The Telegraph. As they reportedly did not obtain Queen Elizabeth II's blessing first, their tag-along photographer even prompted a written complaint by the palace at the time.

While that could be cause for a security concern, Meghan and Harry's other royal rule-breaking tended to lean toward the innocuous. British royals, for fear of forgery, are prohibited from signing autographs, per Time. In 2018, Meghan famously bypassed the rule by simply writing "Hi Kaitlin" inside a 10-year-old girl's autograph book. 

One of the world's most photographed couples, Harry and Meghan are also one of its most affectionate — a rarity in royal couples. Tim Rooke, Shutterstock's royal photographer, told Insider that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex display the most PDA of any couple he has photographed. Rooke noted that while Prince William and Kate Middleton, aka the Prince and Princess of Wales, rarely hold hands in public, "The Sussexes do it if cameras are there or not." 

It is hardly a surprise, then, that Harry and Meghan also bucked a long-standing royal wedding tradition.

Prince Harry's choice of wedding ring makes him unique among royals

By exchanging rings at their May 2018 wedding — a common gesture at non-royal ceremonies — Prince Harry and Meghan Markle broke one of the oldest traditions in British royal history. Traditionally, British royal men do not wear wedding bands, leaving that to the brides, per Hello!. This is the case with Harry's brother, Prince William, and it was with their grandfather, Prince Philip.

While King Charles III, Harry and William's father, dons a wedding ring, he does so on his pinky finger. Furthermore, while Harry's is the modern, platinum wedding band, Charles' is Welsh gold. With royal newlyweds typically gifted the gold from Queen Elizabeth II's personal collection, its historical significance comes from its origin in Wales' Clogau St. David Gold Mine. With the mine no longer in commission, the gold rings are now that much more unique in value. 

Harry and Meghan's mutual exchange of rings also signified a modernity in representing the equality within their marriage. According to Vogue, the royal tradition of the bride-only wedding ring traces back to old-fashioned, upper-class English etiquette. As the 1996 version of "Debrett's New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners" (via The New York Times) read, "Although some brides have adopted the Continental habit of presenting the groom with his own band during the vows, this remains not quite comme il faut ['how one does' in French]." 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding itself broke many royal traditions

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's May 2018 wedding at Windsor's St George's Chapel was an exercise itself in modernizing the British monarchy. As royal biographer Katie Nicholl noted in "Harry and Meghan: Life, Loss and Love," the ceremony reflected Meghan's unique background, an unprecedented one for the royal family, per E! News. "It was — a turning point for the monarchy. Meghan was the first mixed race divorcee to marry into the royal family, something that, decades ago, would have been unthinkable," Nicholl penned. With the wedding incorporating a Black-American bishop and gospel choir, per Town & Country, the multicultural ceremony ushered in many "firsts" for British royal tradition. 

In addition to its groundbreaking historical nature, Harry and Meghan's wedding also tossed many ceremonial protocols to the wind. Tying the knot on May 19, 2018, the couple defied the superstition held since Victorian times that it was unlucky for royals to marry that month, per Reader's Digest. Furthermore, the Sussexes opted for a nontraditional wedding cake, opting for a spring-inspired lemon-and-elderflower cake coated in buttercream and fresh flowers in lieu of the usual fruitcake, per Town & Country.

It also wouldn't be a Harry and Meghan-starring event without some endearing PDA. As Town & Country noted, the couple flouted another royal protocol by holding each other's hands throughout the ceremony.