Last month, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, commonly referred to as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, made headlines for their plan to establish their own royal household to distinguish themselves from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Kate Middleton). Many interpreted the announcement as further evidence not only of the alleged rift between the Sussexes and Cambridges, but also Meghan and Harry's growing independence.
The couple, and the Duchess in particular, has become famous for what appears to be a more modern approach to royal duty. In subtle ways, through her work ethic, fashion, and embrace of the public, Markle has refreshed the notoriously conservative royal family.
A new Instagram page is the latest indication of these trends. As part of the launch of the new household, Meghan and Harry have begun their own joint account. Already, @sussexroyal has nearly 3 million followers.
TLDR: The first Instagram post from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is striking for its tone and disregard for some royal protocol.
But while many have focused on the fanfare surrounding the new page, few have examined the radical nature of the Sussexes' first official post.
Yesterday, the couple posted 9 images that reveal a lot about their independent style. In fact, the images show the couple engaging in activities that would normally be considered inappropriate for members of the royal family.
Here are some of the most striking images.
Meghan has never been opposed to hugging members of the public, but photos of these interactions are almost never posted to official royal accounts. According to Elle, hugging has not been traditionally considered normal royal behaviour. This photo of Meghan warmly holding two individuals makes clear that she will not refrain from engaging with the public.
As a female member of the royal family, Meghan is not allowed to show her legs. Hems traditionally extend to the shin. Bare arms and shoulders are also discouraged. Markle has even received criticism for showing skin in the past. This photo is a stark rejection of that restriction. Followers of the @sussexroyal Instagram page can perhaps expect the Duchess to more openly break fashion protocol and take risks.
@kensingtonroyal, the official Instagram page that follows the Cambridges and previously covered the Sussexes' activities almost never includes photos that don't show members of the royal family. Even then, photos of non-royal individuals usually feature award or honour recipients.
In their first post, Meghan and Harry included two photos that don't show them at all. This humility is impressive. It appears that the couple will use their platform to highlight people other than themselves.
Royal protocol reportedly discourages public displays of affection, especially at public events like the one this photo clearly showcases.
In fact, the few posts on the @kensingtonroyal page that display royal affection feature Meghan and Harry.
This final photo in the Sussexes's first post sets the tone for future posts. The couple does not seem interested in hiding their love.
Finally the post caption is of particular note:
"'Welcome to our official Instagram; we look forward to sharing the work that drives us, the causes we support, important announcements, and the opportunity to shine a light on key issues. We thank you for your support, and welcome you to @sussexroyal.”- Harry & Meghan'
First, this is a quite personal note — they even sign it with their first names, a gesture almost unheard of among members of the royal family.
The couple does not seem to shy away from activism and politics. Excitingly, this may mark a new chapter in not only Harry and Meghan's public presence, but also the role of the royal family as a whole.