The One Reason Prince Harry & Meghan Markle Can Hold Hands in Public but Kate Middleton & Prince William Can’t

A flurry of photos of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle holding hands, hugging and even—gasp—kissing, surfaced last week, and it got us thinking: How come we never see Prince William and Kate Middleton canoodling in public?

Thankfully, there’s a simple explanation.

While there is no royal law that forbids future monarchs (or second-in-line-to-the-throne princes, for that matter) from showing affection, Queen Elizabeth II set a precedent that encourages royals to keep their hands to themselves.

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She and her sweet 96-year-old hubby, Prince Philip, have rarely been photographed being lovey-dovey in her entire 64-year rule because she likes to keep it profesh. Remember, being queen (or any royal) is not all cocktails and garlic bans.

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So when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are on royal tour or attending a charity function, they’re technically on the clock as representatives of the British monarchy and must act as such.

There’s also the fact that her majesty has been grooming Prince William to be king since he was a teenager, and what she says goes.

But why, you might ask, does Prince Harry not have to abide by these rules? 

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Once Prince William and Kate welcome their third child, Prince Harry will slide down to sixth in line for the throne. This basically means he’s off the hook and can enjoy the freedoms of being a fabulous royal (e.g., kissing Meghan Markle) without all the rigid protocol that comes along with it.  

Which brings us to our next point... 

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The Invictus Games, which Prince Harry himself founded in 2014, are not as serious of an event as the traditional royal outing. Hey, even William and K-Middy have been known to high-five and hug at sporting occasions like Wimbledon or the Olympics.

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When it comes down to it, the level of PDA a royal is allowed really depends on the setting, the occasion and who’s watching.

On their 2016 trip to Tiger’s Nest Monastary in Bhutan, the Duke and Duchess were seen holding hands and laughing while hiking on a trail tucked away from the public eye. They even took a normal husband-and-wife picture at the summit! 

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When they visited the Taj Mahal days later, however, the pair stood side by side with their hands folded in front of them. This is because the Indian landmark is a more formal setting.

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That’s a lot of rules to remember. Harry definitely got off easy on this one—not to mention all the kisses. 

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Cat mom, yogi, brunch enthusiast

Lex is an LA native who's deeply obsessed with picnics, Slim Aarons, rosé, Hollywood history and Joan Didion. She joined PureWow in early 2017.