Meghan Markle is not the iconic Mia Thermopolis — even though she’s closer than any of us will ever get. On the third episode of Netflix’s Harry & Meghan docuseries, which premiered on Dec. 8, the Duchess of Sussex nodded to Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews’ 2001 film The Princess Diaries while talking about learning royal protocol in the early stages of her relationship with Prince Harry. And it turns out that she did not get the same training that Mia received from her grandmother, the Queen of Genovia.
“Joining this family, I knew that there was a protocol for how things were done,” she said. “Do you remember that old movie The Princess Diaries with Anne Hathaway? There’s no class [where] some person goes, ‘Sit like this, cross your legs like this, use this fork, don’t do this, curtsy then, wear this kind of hat.’ It doesn’t happen. So, I needed to learn a lot, including the national anthem. It was baptism by fire.”
Rather than consulting one of Harry’s family members, Meghan simply Googled the national anthem and practiced waving etiquette on her own. “I guess you don’t want to wave like like an American,” she said, giving a very exaggerated wave for emphasis. “Everything is just smaller.” Her husband also pointed out that the press had a “lot of invented protocols” that Meghan had to adjust to, in addition to the royal standards.
That said, she still thinks some proper royal training may have been beneficial in the long run, as she told The Cut in an August interview. “That would’ve been really helpful,” she said. “That would’ve been a very key tutorial to have had in advance of all this.” Markle even remarked that she received more training as an actor than she did before joining the royal family. “My entire job was ‘Tell me where to stand. Tell me what to say. Tell me how to say it. Tell me what to wear, and I’ll do it,’” she recalled. “And I’ll show up early, and I’ll probably bake something for the crew.”
Since leaving her working post within the royal family in January 2020, Meghan doesn’t have to follow royal protocols as much except on visits to the UK, but she’s still very aware of her position and title in the public sphere. “It’s important to be thoughtful about it because — even with the Oprah interview, I was conscious of the fact that there are little girls that I meet and they’re just like, ‘Oh my God, it’s a real-life princess.’”