We love Meghan Markle for her low-key—yet chic—style, humanitarian efforts and penchant for rocking a messy bun. But the real reason the 38-year-old duchess stole our (and probably Prince Harry’s) heart? She isn’t afraid to shake up the royal family’s strict protocol. Here, 13 ways that Meghan is creating her own set of royal rules.

Meghan Markle holding hands with Prince Harry
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1. She's Not Afraid of a Little PDA

Yep, the happy couple has been photographed holding hands, hugging and even kissing. And while there’s no formal rule that forbids members of the royal family from doing so, Queen Elizabeth II has set a precedent that encourages royals to keep public displays of affection to a minimum. Guess these two lovebirds just can’t help themselves.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry engagement shoot
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2. She Ignores the Pantyhose Policy

Meghan made headlines when she first ditched the tights for her engagement shoot—apparently an unspoken rule in the royal family.

Meghan Markle and the Queen

3. She Spent Christmas with Her Majesty

The future royal was the first fiancée to spend Christmas with the queen at her Sandringham estate. (Even Meghan’s soon-to-be sister-in-law Kate Middleton didn’t receive this honor when she was engaged to Prince William.)

Meghan Markle wearing all black outfit
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4. She Dresses in Head-to-Toe Black

This dark hue is normally reserved for more somber occasions (like funerals or Remembrance Sunday), but Meghan looked ultra chic in her ensemble during a visit to Cardiff Castle in Wales…and again at the British Fashion Awards…and again in New York City

Meghan Markle signing autograph in Cardiff
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5. She's open to autographs

Royals aren’t allowed to give autographs for security reasons, but Meghan cleverly worked around protocol to make a ten-year-old girl’s day by simply writing “Hi Kaitlin” instead of signing her own name.

Meghan Markle hugging public
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6. She's a Hugger

Meghan frequently hugs children (and adults) at public events even though royals typically keep their hands to themselves (again, for security reasons). Aww...

Meghan Markle in black evening dress
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7. She Delivered a Speech at Her Wedding

In British weddings, it is traditionally the groom, father of the bride and best man who make a speech. But Meghan reportedly broke centuries of tradition and gave one of her own at her wedding to Prince Harry, thank you very much.

Meghan Markle in pant suit

8. She Wears the Pants (Literally)

Meghan has proven time and time again that she’s a fashion force to be reckoned with—like when she donned a structured Alexander McQueen tuxedo during an evening appearance with Prince Harry, instead of the traditional ball gown. The result? Flawlessness.

RELATED: All the Times Meghan Markle (Literally) Wore the Pants

Meghan Markle attends the first annual Royal Foundation Forum
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

9. She Doesn't Shy Away From Politics

While royals aren’t supposed to express their political views (which is why Kate Middleton wore a green dress for the BAFTAs), Meghan, a longtime activist, didn’t mince words when discussing Time’sUp and the #MeToo movement at the Royal Foundation Forum.

RELATED: The Royal Gang’s All Here: Will, Kate, Harry and Meghan Make First Royal Appearance Together

10. She Had a Modern Wedding Cake

Forget the traditional vanilla-cake-and-white-icing confection—the couple dove into a lemon elderflower cake with buttercream frosting and fresh flowers on their special day. We’d do anything for a slice.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Christmas Day service
Joe Giddens - PA Images/Getty Images

11. She Got Married In a Church as a Divorcée

A church wedding is fairly standard for the royals, but the Church of England only decided that divorced people could remarry in church in 2002. (Come on guys, what took you so long?) That means Prince Harry was the first family member to have a church wedding with a divorcée. (Meghan was previously married to producer Trevor Engelson.)

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry smiling together
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12. Her Hair Isn't Always—Gasp—Perfect

Kate may be known for her signature blowouts and pristine updos, but Meghan favors a perfectly-imperfect style. (And totally rocks the look, if you ask us.)

RELATED: 9 Beauty Products That Meghan Markle Swears By

meghan markle toenail polish
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13. She isn't afraid of the dark side

Markle attended Cirque du Soleil in January 2019 with her husband, Prince Harry, and wore a blackish-red polish on her toenails. As we all know, dark colors are looked down upon by members of the royal family, since natural hues are preferred.

RELATED: Listen to ‘Royally Obsessed,’ the Podcast for People Who Love the Royal Family

Additional reporting by Greta Heggeness.

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