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12 Ways Meghan Markle Is Modernizing the Monarchy

Prince Harry's future wife is putting her own spin on royalty.
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As Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's May wedding date draws near, it's clear that Markle is embracing royal life on her own terms. From her whirlwind romance with Prince Harry to the unique flair she has already added to her royal appearances, Markle is a breath of fresh air for the British monarchy. And as her royal responsibilities grow, Markle modernizing influence will only grow.

Here's how the future royal is breaking with tradition and creating her own set of royal rules:

1. Meghan's background is unlike most royal fiancées.


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The American-born Markle has a refreshingly different background from most royals. While she is well-educated (having graduated from Northwestern University), successful (she starred on Suits for seven seasons), and a longtime humanitarian and activist, Markle differs from the royals in a few ways. First and foremost: she's American and she's biracial—and has spoken candidly about her experience as a mixed race woman. She's also an entrepreneur, having founded her now-defunct lifestyle site, The Tig, in 2014. And, Markle is a divorcée: she split from her first husband, Trevor Engelson, in August 2013.

2. She doesn't shy away from hot-topic issues.


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Members of the royal family are strongly discouraged from making political statements, which means they rarely comment on social movements. This can be a difficult stricture for even experienced royals to navigate: Duchess Kate faced backlash after she chose not to wear black to this year's BAFTA Awards, where most attendees stuck to an all-black dress code in support of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements. But Markle, a longtime activist who has championed women's causes in the past, recently spoke in support of women at the Royal Foundation Forum. It was a candid and refreshing moment for those who have longed for the royals to use their platform—and as many pointed out, supporting women's empowerment is hardly a radical political stance.

3. Meghan and Harry are not afraid of PDA.


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Since their first appearance together at the Invictus Games, Harry and Meghan have not been afraid of showing their affection for each other. The couple is often photographed holding hands or hugging. Will and Kate typically refrain from showing PDA, keeping their appearances as representatives of the monarchy strictly professional. As the future King of England, Will may have to adhere to a different set of expectation; Harry, on the other hand, can be a bit looser with his public persona—particularly when it comes to his future wife.

4. Meghan is adding her personal touch to the royal wedding.


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While there are many wedding traditions Markle is reportedly embracing for her upcoming nuptials, she is also adding her personal touch to the big day. One break from tradition is that Markle is planning on making a speech at her wedding reception. The couple have also reportedly requested a wedding cake made of bananas, which would be the first royal wedding cake to be made of the fruit.

5. Meghan has spoken about her relationship in the press.

Markle shared details about her relationship with Harry on the October cover of Vanity Fair. While it's not surprising for a royal to appear on a magazine cover (who could forget Harry's T&C cover in 2017!), the story itself was revealing and intimate. Royals tend to make public statements about their personal lives only through the Palace, and with this magazine cover, Markle made it clear she was discussing her relationship on her terms.

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6. She was welcomed into the royal family before her wedding.


Just a month after announcing her engagement to Prince Harry, Markle spent her very first Christmas with the royal family. Her attendance alone broke royal protocol—fiancées are typically not invited, and even Duchess Kate did not attend Christmas with the royals until she and William were married in 2011. But Markle was quickly included in the royal holiday festivities: she joined a bevy of royals at the Queen's annual Christmas lunch and was seen curtsying to the Queen at Christmas mass in Sandringham.

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7. Markle is relaxed with crowds of royal well-wishes—and interacts with them happily.


Markle's career as an actress may have prepared her for the crowds, fans, and attention the royal family receives, so she doesn't shy away from well-wishers. On one visit to Cardiff, Wales, Markle wrote a sweet note to a young girl in the crowd, leading many to believe that she was signing an autograph. Giving autographs is strictly against royal protocol, since there's a risk of signatures being copied or forged. But Markle swiftly found a way to make the little girl's day without breaking protocol: she wrote "Hi Kaitlin" with a heart.

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8. Meghan frequently hugs people she meets at royal events.


Protocol dictates that a royal will often offer a handshake to greet people, but Markle has proven to be even more casual and approachable when greeting others. While visiting a cafe in Scotland, Markle greeted an employee with a hug. But she's in good company with her friendly greeting: Harry, Will, and Kate, have all been seen embracing people at various times. It's also a rule Princess Diana famously broke often—one of the many sweet ways Markle echoes her late mother-in-law.

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9. Meghan's hair isn't always perfectly coiffed.


Exhibit A: Markle's now-infamous messy bun. The entire internet seemed to have an opinion on the up do. And while team T&C is partial to the sophisticated-yet-casual style, critics were quick to point out that the hairstyle defied royal protocol. As Kate's signature blowouts or formal chignons indicate, royal tradition typically dictates sleek, neat hairstyles for women, People reports. Protocol aside, Markle's hairstyle ethos is relatable, authentic, and effortlessly chic.

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10. Meghan's fashion choices are nontraditional.


Markle's fashion choices are sometimes seen as unconventional in the world of royal ensembles. The sheer Ralph & Russo gown she wore for her engagement portraits was more revealing than the standard cocktail dresses that royal brides usually choose. Markle also wore a non-traditional outfit for her first formal event with Harry: a black pantsuit by Alexander McQueen. Many expected Markle to wear a gown but Markle knows the power of a good suit—and we'd guess she's saving her first big gown moment for a weekend in May.

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11. And she wore an all-black ensemble.


Yet another fashion-related royal rule: royals don't typically wear all-black outfits unless they're attending a somber event, like a funeral, Hello! reports. But Markle chose an all-black ensemble for her first visit to Wales with Prince Harry, adding a green handbag for a muted pop of color. While it may have not been in line with etiquette, it was undeniably stylish.

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12. Meghan's chic purse collection sets her apart from other royals.


Royals have a history of using their purses for more than just stashing backup mascara. The Queen sends secret signals to her staff with her signature Launer purse, while Princess Diana used clutches to cover her chest in photographs. Royal etiquette dictates that a clutch or bag with a small handle are both appropriate options so royals can avoid shaking hands with certain people, Harper's BAZAAR reports. Markle has worn handbags outside those constraints—she favors crossbody bags that leave her hands free.

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*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com

*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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