The royal family’s ‘huge mistake’
THE royal family made a huge mistake in not sending a member of the household to see Meghan Markle's dad before the wedding, according to a top etiquette expert.
William Hanson told Page Six the royal wedding fiasco sums up what happens when the royal household is not used to commoners marrying into the family.
He stressed that Meghan, 36, must learn how to behave from her fellow commoner and future sister-in-law, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
"My heart bleeds for Meghan, it's not really what she's banked on. I do think it's interesting, one of the issues seen this week with members of royalty marrying commoners, is that when you marry someone who has not grown up in this environment, no matter how bright and intelligent they may be, it can be disconcerting and accidents can happen.
"The royal household should have sent someone out to talk to Mr. Markle immediately and others in Meghan's family. But that didn't happen - and it has blown up in their faces.
"When Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, married Prince William, the Middleton family were much more attuned to their position, what they had to do and what was expected of them.
"Prior to royalty marrying commoners, they married other royals, whether British or European, or aristocrats. These unions were often loveless and didn't do too particularly well, but you know what to do and how to behave - it's part of their breeding."
As Prince Harry and Meghan turned up in Windsor on Thursday for a rehearsal and tea with the Queen, Hanson added there is the problem of dealing with the British class system.
"In America, the class system is celebrity and our royal family have taken on celebrity status, but they are a level above this and should be held to higher standards."
Hanson said that former Suits actress Meghan will have been hopefully taking "princess lessons" from the Duchess of Cambridge. He adds she has already refined her public dress sense - even wearing the required pantyhose at formal events.
"There isn't really a duchess or princess finishing school … so it is a lot of learning as you go, on the job. Just like Catherine - who took advice from Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall - Meghan will have been talking to those who have done this and got the tiara before her," he says.
"Meghan is very independent, very headstrong and I would hope she would not be too headstrong or stubborn to accept or listen to this advice. I hope that she does listen to her new relatives, as well as Harry and members of 'blood royalty.'"
On Thursday, Meghan released a statement confirming that her father, Thomas Markle, would not be at the wedding following a photos-for-cash scandal, as he recovered from heart surgery.
And when asked what the etiquette is for who should walk Meghan down the aisle Saturday, Hanson picked her mother, Doria Ragland, over Prince Charles or William, adding, "It has to be her mother, because it is symbolic, you are passing the bride over to her new family."
Although Meghan's warmth and tactile behaviour has endeared her to many Brits, Hanson stressed that she must take a "gently, gently" approach, saying she can't continue to be so informal, and adding, "If she starts ripping up the rule book from day one, it's going to be a recipe for disaster.
"This is an institution that has been going on longer than any of us and will continue to do so. Meghan needs to remember she is a small cog in a very old machine. She has to remember it's not about her - it's about the causes she is going to be championing, her own personal beliefs are irrelevant.
"Although she can do a huge amount of good with her profile, and I think she is going to open up the monarchy - not just in the UK but around the world - she can't do it all at once, it has to be gently, gently, softly, softie."
However, he said that compared to the Duchess of Cambridge, Meghan has a more relaxed role - simply because Prince Harry is now sixth in line to the throne with the recent birth of Prince Louis.
"Catherine has got a different role, she's got a harder task, as she has got to be remembered, but can't do anything that she'll be remembered too much for. It's the same act the Queen has perfected.
"People feel fantastically connected to her, catching a glimpse of what she said is a thrill, but nothing you ever said can be remembered."
The good thing, Hanson says, is that Prince Harry now has a purpose in life with charities and his Invictus Games, which will help avoid any issues.
"With Harry and Meghan, they can be a little bit more relaxed," he said.
This story originally appeared in the NY Post and is republished here with permission.