What Happens When a Commoner Marries Royalty?

Updated on May 20, 2018
revmjm profile image

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She researches and shares remedies for using certain products for illnesses.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced engagement in November 2017.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced engagement in November 2017.

Most people know that being a royal is different from being a commoner. When a commoner marries a royal, the commoner becomes a royal by marriage. Even though that person is not a royal by birth, he or she will have to follow the royal rules.

Over the years, the royal protocol has not been challenged even though some of the laws are strange and antiquated. Those particular rules range from what to eat in public, what to wear, and even what board games the royals can play.

Kate Middleton married Prince William in 2011. Now she is the Duchess of Cambridge. Meghan Markle married Prince Harry on May 19, 2018. She becomes a duchess as well. Like Duchess Kate, Markle’s life will change a great deal. They will change even more for Meghan because she an American, biracial, a divorcee, and she is older than Harry.

Below are some of the things commoners must do when they marry into the royal family.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's New Titles

According to British royal protocol, Meghan will not become a princess just like Kate Middleton did not become a princess because of their pre-wedding status as a "commoner."

Queen Elizabeth gives all royals a title on their wedding day. Meghan Markle is no exception. On the day of their wedding, the queen bestowed a title on both Harry and Meghan. Meghan will never use Mrs. as her title but that the one that is the counterpart of the new title Prince Harry was given. Usually, the men are given the title of duke and the women are given the title of duchess.

Prince Harry is now the Duke of Sussex, and his new bride is the Duchess of Sussex. The vacant titles had not been used since 1843.

Even though her full name is Rachel Meghan Markle, her middle name was printed in Buckingham Palace’s announcement of the engagement. She has used her middle name all her life. Throughout the wedding ceremony, Harry was not referred to by his real first name as Henry, and Meghan was not referred to by her real first name as Rachel.

Souvenirs and Coin

When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement in November 2017, memorabilia was sold. It is a thriving business for the country.

When Prince William and Duchess Kate married in 2011, it was estimated that the country spent £222 million on memorabilia, according to the Centre for Retail Research. A range of china personally approved by them was released. The Royal Mint also released a commemorative coin in their honor.

Prince Harry and Meghan approve their Royal Collection wedding souvenirs and decided on a design for their coin.

Meghan Markle played Rachel Zane on "Suits"
Meghan Markle played Rachel Zane on "Suits"

No Career

Once a person becomes a member of the royal family, there will be no time for a career because everyone will have royal duties to fulfill.

Grace Kelly gave up her acting career to become the Princess of Monaco when she married Prince Rainer. Meghan Markle gave up her successful acting career even though she had a starring role in the legal drama, "Suits."

Meghan will be so busy with charities and public appearances that she will not have time for a separate career other than being a royal and fulfilling her royal duties.

No More Political Views

No matter how politically active a commoner was before marrying a royal, she or he must break all political ties. They will no longer be able to vote or talk about their personal political preferences. Additionally, they will not be able to hold public office.

No Social Media

The royal family is not allowed to have social media accounts. Meghan Meghan had a blog and was very active on social media before she became engaged. She has since deleted all her social media footprints.

Eating Habits Will Change

A commoner's eating habits changes as a royal. There are eating rules that must be followed. First of all, royals don't eat shellfish in public for fear of an allergic reaction and potential food poisoning.

If the queen is present, the meal starts with her and stops with her whether others have finished eating or not. When Queen Elizabeth puts down her utensils, everybody else should stop eating as well.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada before their engagement
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada before their engagement

Fashion Will Change

Before Duchess Kate married Prince William, she wore clothes that are forbidden now by the royal family. The former actress Meghan Markle has worn several things that are forbidden now that she is married to Prince Harry.

  • She has worn ripped jeans.
  • Her hair has been in a messy bun.
  • She has worn mismatched earrings.
  • She did not wear stocking the day she and Prince Harry announced their engagement.
  • She wore a sheer dress in her engagement photo.

You will never see a royal wearing ripped jeans and having messy buns. Meghan turned a few heads when she was seen that way before she became engaged. It is doubtful that she will push the envelope now that she is officially a royal.

Prince Harry and girlfriend Meghan Markle at the Invictus Games in 2017
Prince Harry and girlfriend Meghan Markle at the Invictus Games in 2017


A public display of affection is not a common occurrence with the royals. There was plenty of it when Prince Harry and Meghan were dating. Once they are married, it is not expected to continue.

You rarely see Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip touching in public. It is the same situation with Prince Williams and Kate Middleton. They barely touch each other in public. We know they touch each other in private because they have three children to prove it.

Must Get Permission

Several things must be in place before a commoner can marry a royal. The queen has to give permission, according to the Royal Marriages Act of 1772. In Meghan Markle's case, she had to be baptized and confirmed into the Church of England.

The British royal family is not as strict with the marriage laws as it used to be. Queen Elizabeth's uncle, Prince Edward VIII, had to abdicate the throne to marry a divorcee. Meghan Markle is a divorcee, but the queen gave her grandson permission to marry her.

Christmas with the Queen

The queen expects her family to spend the three-day holiday with her. That includes going to church together on Christmas Day, having lunch, and watching Queen Elizabeth's taped speech to her country on television.

That is the only holiday that the queen expects her entire family to be with her.

The Royal Family is not allowed to play Monopoly.
The Royal Family is not allowed to play Monopoly.

No Board Games

The royal family doesn't play any board games. In 2008, Prince Andrew, Duke of York was banned from playing Monopoly at home with his family. It was said to be too vicious.

Prince William and Duchess Kate
Prince William and Duchess Kate

Gift Rules

You have probably seen the many gifts people give the royal family. They receive thousands of gifts and bouquets of flowers. They must accept all the gifts with a smile no matter how bizarre they are.

They cannot refuse any of the gifts that are offered. They do not keep any of them anyway. The gifts are donated to charities.


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    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      23 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, Anne!

    • profile image

      Anne Cox 

      23 months ago

      Intriguing article. Fascinating, too.


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