The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have had a whirlwind two years of marriage.
But it wasn’t long before the couple announced that they were stepping back from the royal family.
Their decision to step down as royals comes into force from 31st March, and so royal reporters have explained that they are currently taking time to come together and work out their next steps – and their new chapter as a financially independent family, along with their one-year-old son.
So while it seems we won’t be hearing much from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for the foreseeable, we thought it would be a lovely chance to take a look back at their brief time as royals.
MORE: Frogmore Cottage: What is Prince Harry and Meghan’s UK home actually like?
During their time as senior royals, they certainly made an impact, with their impressive charity work, a handful of overseas trips, and some brilliant patronages.
And through it all, the Sussexes did things their own way, to ensure their happiness – even if it meant going against regular royal tradition.
As the couple celebrate two years of marriage today, we explore 7 ways Harry and Meghan broke the royal rule book during their time together as part of the monarchy.
Meghan made a speech on her wedding day
Long before she met her future husband, Meghan Markle was confident and outspoken, and never afraid to speak out on issues she was passionate about. And on her wedding day, it seems she (understandably!) was keen to have her say, reportedly making a speech at the wedding reception in Windsor, at Frogmore House.
According to tradition, it is unusual for royal brides to make a speech at their wedding – but we say, more power to her!
Given that the Duchess of Sussex underwent a huge life upheaval to marry Harry – moving from her home in Canada, leaving behind her acting career and friends and family – she was likely keen to thank her family and friends for their support, and share her excitement for her new chapter with her husband.
If only we could have been a fly on the wall on that special day…
Hugging members of the public at royal engagements
Usually, royals reserve their greetings for members of the public to handshakes alone, prefering to keep things a bit more formal.
But for Meghan, who was used to a warmer, more friendly California approach (she was brought up there), it quickly became clear that she wished to be a little closer to the supportive public, choosing to hug and put her arms round the Brits who came out to greet her and Harry at royal events.
The announcement of baby Archie’s birth
Normally, the announcement of a royal birth is rather formal. Official news outlets receive word first, and then a plaque is displayed at Buckingham Palace, sharing the details of the birth.
But, Harry and Meghan chose to do things a little differently, in order to keep the moment as special and private as possible.
The Duke and Duchess announced their happy news with an Instagram post, reading ‘It’s a boy!’, alongside the details of the birth.
And then, Prince Harry made an informal announcement outside the stables of Windsor Castle, dressed very simply in a jumper and chinos.
The first glimpse and photos of baby Archie
While Princess Diana and Prince Charles, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge all made their first appearances with new babies on the steps of the hospital where they’d given birth – the Lindo Wing – Harry and Meghan chose a different route.
While Meghan gave birth to her son at The Portland Hospital in London, the stay was entirely private, and the new family only made a public appearance to a select group of journalists and photographers two days later, at Windsor Castle, when they’d had a few days together at home.
Archie’s name and title
Harry and Meghan chose a distinctly non-royal name for their first born, naming him Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
It’s different to those chosen for previous royal babies, who have all been given incredibly traditional names – such as Archie’s cousins, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
The couple also broke the rule book in choosing not to give their son a royal title. While he had every right to a title, such as Prince, they opted not to give him one, although the reasons why were not confirmed.
However, some speculated that Harry was keen to give his son more of a normal life, without the pressures of living as a royal. Instead, their son will simply be referred to as Archie – with the use of ‘Master’ for formal occasions. After all, he is still seventh in line to the throne.
Speaking out about their unhappiness with life as royals
Members of the royal family famously abide by the ‘Never complain, never explain’ rule, which is the reason they seldom give interviews or comment on any family matters. But the Duke and Duchess of Sussex chose not to follow this unspoken rule during an ITV documentary filmed late last year.
During their official visit to South Africa, they were followed by Tom Bradby, who was filming a documentary, Harry & Meghan: An African Journey.
And while the programme displayed their charity efforts there, it also examined the struggles they’d faced since first getting together, and since getting married.
For the first time, Harry and Meghan publicly admitted to being unhappy with royal life, and in particular the media scrutiny. When asked by Tom if she was okay, Meghan replied, “Thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m ok. But it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”
Before he added, “And the answer is, would it be fair to say, not really ok? That it’s really been a struggle?”, to which the Duchess responded, “Yes.”
Stepping back as members of the royal family
Of course, the biggest one has to be their decision to step down as members of the royal family.
In the beginning, it seems that Harry and Meghan were keen only to step back, and reduce their royal duties (not stop them completely), supporting the Queen where they could but also become financially independent from ‘The Firm’.
However, as time and discussions went on, it became clear that they could not do both – so in the end, they made the decision to give up life as royals altogether.
The couple will no longer be permitted to use their HRH titles, cannot represent the Queen in an official capacity, and will need to pay rent on their royal home, Frogmore Cottage.
While it’s not yet known what the couple will do moving forward, we’re looking forward to finding out later this year.