Prince Harry and Meghan Markle took Queen and Prince Philip’s pioneering move to the next level with major royal change

The Queen and Prince Philip's pioneering move in 1970 has been taken several steps further by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle took Queen and Prince Philip’s pioneering move to the next level. All four are seen here at different occasions
(Image credit: Future// Image 1:Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala// Image 2: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle took Queen and Prince Philip’s pioneering move to the next level and helped spark a major royal change. 


The Duke and Duchess of Sussex might have fully embraced life at their Santa Barbara mansion since they “stepped back” as senior royals but their approach to engagements has certainly made its mark. So much so that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle could be seen to have taken the late Queen and Prince Philip’s pioneering move to the next level. 

Whilst it might be expected now to see the likes of the King and Queen Consort and Prince and Princess of Wales undertaking royal walkabouts during visits at home and abroad, this apparently wasn’t always the case. Instead, as per the Royal Family website, this was something that first happened in 1970. 

The Queen is greeted as she arrives in Canberra

(Image credit: Photo by Golding; Murray/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)

It revealed that the "first royal walkabout” took place during Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit to New Zealand and Australia in 1970. This practice was apparently brought in to “allow them to meet as many people as possible” rather than just “officials and dignitaries”. 

However, it could be said that whilst this concept was the Queen and Prince Philip’s pioneering move, it was taken to a whole other level by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The Sussexes have never shied away from giving their walkabouts an even more personal touch and throwback snaps show them hugging members of the public and even appearing to pose for selfies.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle hugging people at different engagements

(Image credit: Future// Image 1: Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images// Image 2: Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

This includes Meghan hugging a member of the crowd during a visit to Sussex in October 2018 and Prince Harry hugging a UK competitor at a reception hosted by the Prime Minister of Australia later that month.

Whilst Kate Middleton had also been photographed hugging people at engagements prior to this, she tended to hug children and it was rarer to see her and Prince William taking this more casual approach. Since then, the Queen and Prince Philip’s pioneering move has evolved. 

Last year following the Queen’s passing, the Princess of Wales was pictured hugging a mourner in the crowd during a walkabout at Windsor Castle. Meanwhile, Prince William’s hug with an elderly man in Scotland in 2022 left fans seriously emotional.

Prince William and Kate Middleton at different engagements

(Image credit: Future// Image 1:Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images // Image 2: Photo Andrew Milligan - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

It seems they have followed in Prince Harry and Meghan’s footsteps and former royal butler, Grant Harrold, expressed his belief to OK! last year that stoicism is something Prince William knows he “can’t get away” with. 

“I think William and the other younger royals have realized that they can’t get away with being aloof,” he explained, as well as predicting, “I imagine a lot of the ceremonial matters will stay [in the future], but things like how we approach conversations with royals could all change. We might see more hugs, fist bumps and casual conversations.”

William, Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall and Catherine, Princess of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visit the National Maritime Museum

(Image credit: Photo by Hugh Hastings/Getty Images)

The Prince and Princess of Wales have certainly been observed being less formal at engagements in recent years. This can perhaps all be traced back to the Queen and Prince Philip's pioneering move to introduce royal walkabouts as well as Prince Harry and Meghan - and who knows how future royals might develop the practice of walkabouts even further.

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use , Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!