While attending the opening of the Oceania exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts on Tuesday during her first solo royal outing, many praised the Duchess of Sussex as “humble” and “down to earth” for ― wait for it ― closing her own car door as she exited the vehicle.
Others didn’t see the big deal:
It’s typical for a security officer to open and close the door for royalty, Diana Mather, director and senior tutor at The English Manner, an international protocol, etiquette and hospitality consultancy firm in the U.K., told HuffPost.
“It is really for safety,” Mather said in an email, adding that Harry doesn’t usually close his own door on official visits. “Also, royal ladies need to make sure they get in and out of a car in the most elegant way and not worry about the door!”
Harry likely doesn’t close his own door because he “has been royal since birth,” so it just comes naturally, according to lifestyle and etiquette expert Elaine Swann.
“He instinctively allows doors to be opened and closed for him (unless he is driving himself as we saw on their wedding day, when he drove to their wedding reception),” Swann said.
As for Meghan’s “humble” door-closing gesture, William Hanson, a British etiquette expert, said that he doubted that she “thought long and hard” about it.
“I suspect it was force of habit, but it is interesting to see that many have noticed as usually dignitaries have a member of staff to do this for them,” Hanson said via email.
He added: “That comes from a security point of view, mainly, not just for perpetuating airs and graces. There would have been little security bother last night with Meghan closing her own door as she exited the car on the side closest to the Royal Academy.”
Still, Meghan’s closing of her door does send something of a message, Hanson said.
It’s “yet another silent signal that she is going to be doing things her own way and helping adapt and progress the British monarchy,” Hanson said. “The key thing to stress is that it’s not a protocol breach!”
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