In Spare, the Duke of Sussex writes about the moment his then-girlfriend met members of the royal family – including the British monarch – at the Royal Lodge in October 2016.
However, Prince Harry’s recollection of the curtsy differs slightly from the exaggerated one Meghan recreated in the couple’s Netflix docuseries, in which she compared it to something from “Medieval Times”.
The duke writes that the couple were on their way to the Royal Lodge – Prince Andrew’s official residence – to meet his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, their daughter Princess Eugenie and Eugenie’s now-husband, Jack Brooksbank. Meghan had already known Eugenie, considering the two went to a final “fun grenade” Halloween party that same month before her relationship with Prince Harry went public.
What they didn’t expect was for the Queen to make a surprise visit, and that she would be there when they arrived.
“We entered the large front sitting room and there she was. Granny. The monarch. Queen Elizabeth II. Standing in the middle of the room,” Harry writes, per Newsweek. “She turned slightly. Meg went straight to her and dropped a deep, flawless curtsy. ‘Your Majesty. Pleasure to meet you.’”
He continued: “Euge and Jack were near Granny and they almost seemed to pretend not to know Meg. They were very quiet, very proper. Each gave Meg a quick kiss on the cheek, but it was pure royal. Pure British.”
Harry also revealed that the Duchess of York helped Meghan practice her curtsy outside the Royal Lodge, with Fergie demonstrating once as Meghan imitated her.
“As we walked towards the door Fergie and I both leaned into Meg, whispering quick reminders,” he added. “When you first meet the Queen it’s Your Majesty. Thereafter it’s just Ma’am. Rhymes with ham.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have previously opened up about Meghan’s first meeting with the royal family. In 2021, Meghan admitted during the couple’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey that she didn’t know she had to curtsy when meeting the Queen. But she explained how Prince Harry pointed out that because she’s also the monarch, it was expected.
“Apparently I did a very deep curtsy, I don’t remember it,” Meghan told Oprah with a laugh, after recounting the same story about practicing for a few moments outside before nervously meeting the Queen.
In their six-part Netflix docuseries, Harry & Meghan – which premiered on 8 December – the couple once again recalled Meghan’s introduction to the Queen after they began dating in 2016.
“My grandmother was the first senior member of the family that Meghan met,” Prince Harry said in the docuseries. “She had no idea what it all consisted of. So it was a bit of a shock to the system for her.”
Meghan added that while they were on their way to meet the Queen, Prince Harry asked her if she knew how to “curtsy.”
“We were in the car, driving and he’s like: ‘You know how to curtsy right?’ and I just thought it was a joke,” the duchess admitted.
Prince Harry acknowledged the difficulty of explaining royal protocol to his American girlfriend, telling the camera: “How do you explain that to people? How do you explain that you bow to your grandmother? And that you would need to curtsy, especially to an American. That’s weird.”
Meghan also compared curtsying to Medieval Times, Dinner and Tournament, a dinner theatre featuring staged medieval-style games such as jousting, and made the joke that “Americans will understand this”.
She then recreated the deep and “flawless” curtsy she gave to the Queen, bowing her head dramatically and spreading her arms wide. “It was like that. Like, I curtsied as though I was like…Pleasure to meet you, Your Majesty,” she said.
However, the moment drew some criticism from Harry & Meghan viewers who claimed that the duchess was being “disrespectful” towards tradition.
Royal author Gyles Brandreth called the Meghan Markle’s demonstration of her curtsy to the Queen “mocking” and “embarrassing”.
“Nobody curtsies to the Queen like that, and nobody would have advised her to do it that way,” he told Vanessa Feltz’s Drivetime show on TalkTV. “It’s embarrassing, because it is mocking – and nobody curtsies to the Queen like that, and nobody would have advised her to do it that way.”
Meanwhile, one viewer commented: “Is she trying to be funny? Relatable? As an American, it’s really not that hard to grasp curtsying to the Queen.
“How disrespectful and offensive,” someone else said of Meghan’s comments.