Things got a little awkward on Thursday, as Meghan Markle and Queen Elizabeth were stepping off the royal train en route to their first joint engagement in Cheshire. As the pair were preparing to enter an awaiting car at Runcorn, there was apparently a bit of confusion that resulted in the Duchess of Sussex letting the Queen enter the vehicle ahead of her, even as she was reportedly being told to go first.
According to a report from the Daily Mail, the unusual moment was captured by a Leading Britain’s Conversation (LBC) reporter, with the clip suggesting that Meghan was asked to enter the waiting car first and that the Queen might have been “oblivious” when she instead went in ahead. The video shows Meghan looking “flustered,” then asking if she should indeed be the one going first. As a result, the Queen reportedly stood back before she took her preferred place in the vehicle, and was given a blanket to keep her warm.
Due to the obscurity of this custom outside of royal circles, not everyone is aware of the written and unwritten nuances of British royal protocol. However, etiquette expert William Hanson told the Daily Mail that the fact that Queen Elizabeth always sits behind a vehicle’s driver is more of her personal preference, rather than a strict royal custom.
“This is just a case of habit, not protocol (protocol actually says the most important person sits diagonally behind the driver) but the Queen has always preferred being directly behind whoever is driving her.”
Further explaining the dicey situation at Runcorn, Hanson explained that Meghan Markle might not have been aware of the Queen’s preferences and that the royal household might not have told her in advance about where she always sits inside a vehicle. He added, however, that the Duchess of Sussex was “considerate” when she seemed to ask the Queen where she would prefer to sit.
The unintentional awkwardness with the waiting car was not the first time this week that a rather obscure or unwritten royal custom was highlighted in the news. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry, stood behind Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, on the balcony of Birmingham Palace during Saturday’s Trooping of the Colours, due to the fact that William is the eldest of Prince Charles’ two sons. The Daily Mail also added that during the same event, Meghan appeared to ask Harry if she needed to curtsy upon Queen Elizabeth’s arrival, which is indeed specified by protocol if a royal sees the Queen for the first time in a day.