The misconception about the Royal Family and breaking protocol

Danielle Stacey
Royal Correspondent
Harry embraces war widow Daphne Dunne, 98, in Sydney (Getty)

Royal protocol is not as straightforward as it used to be and ‘rules’ about how the Royal Family should behave are constantly evolving.

Prince Harry and Meghan are said to have ‘broken royal protocol’ on more than one occasion, during their tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand – from hugs and handshakes to going barefoot and selfies.

However, these guidelines are not formally set in stone.

Prince Charles’ former butler Grant Harrold explains to Yahoo UK: “Traditions and protocols have evolved over time, but there are no written rules.

“Our generation is different and the way we act is different, so why should it be any different for the royals?”

When Prince Harry reached out to give India Brown, 19, a hug during a public walkabout in Melbourne, he said to her, “You are going to get me into trouble.”

Many believed that this was because he was breaking royal protocol, but it’s actually more down to time restraints.

Harry hugs super fan India Brown in Melbourne (Getty)

Harrold says that if the Royal Family hugged every single person they met, they would be there all day.

Engagements are planned meticulously and with the hectic schedule of the royal tour, palace aides are always keen for things to run smoothly and to the minute.

Princess Anne explained on ITV’s Queen of the World documentary why she doesn’t shake hands with everyone she meets. 

She said: “We never shook hands, the theory was that you couldn’t shake hands with everybody, so don’t start, so I kind of stick with that, but I notice others don’t.”

When it comes to hugging, it can also depend on the context and environment.

Harrold says: “Never hug a royal unless they offer it first.”

Meghan and Harry met Luke Vincent, 5, in Dubbo (PA)

During the sailing event of the Invictus Games, as the royal couple’s boat pulled up alongside team USA to congratulate them on the race, one competitor leapt across and lifted Harry in the air with a giant bear hug

“This would be a breach of protocol as Prince Harry did not offer it first. It could also be a security issue, however, the prince seemed to take it in good humour,” explains Harrold. 

He also says that when it comes to children and the elderly, the royals are much more relaxed.

“They bring themselves down to their level,” Harrold adds, “That’s why you’ll see them high-fiving and embracing them.”



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