All The Royal Rules Prince Harry Has Broken

Prince Harry has been at the center of many of the royal family's biggest PR disasters. From showing up to a costume party dressed like a Nazi to using drugs and being photographed naked at a party in Las Vegas, Harry's kept Buckingham Palace's press office pretty busy throughout his time as a royal. Even now that he and Meghan Markle have left the royal family, they remain a thorn in the monarchy's side, so to speak, because despite living in the United States, they still make plenty of headlines.

Harry's always been a rebel, so breaking the rules is kind of his thing. He's not the only one, however. His aunt, Princess Anne, is also known for frequently breaking royal rules. While he was a working member of the royal family, Harry was regularly caught eschewing protocol — but not necessarily for the sake of being a rebel. Oftentimes, it was because he simply wanted to show his human side to the public. Other times, he made exceptions for his wife, Meghan, the biggest of which was their decision to leave their royal lives behind and jet off to the U.S. to live lives independent of the monarchy.

Harry's penchant for doing the unexpected is what makes him relatable. While some royal members' attempts to be more relatable have backfired in the past, Harry doesn't really seem to have this problem, and his tendency to break ancient rules might be the reason why.

Harry dodged his security detail to pet a dog

When Prince Harry was presented with the chance to pet the dog who won "Britain's Got Talent" in 2015, he seized the opportunity. This move presumably left his security detail slightly disgruntled.

Harry dodged his security when he left the Royal Albert Hall stage, where he'd been meeting with the "Britain's Got Talent" acts, to pet a Border Collie named Matisse. Matisse and his owner, Jules O'Dwyer, were crowned the winners of the show earlier that year. Harry seemed unable to leave Matisse behind without giving the good boy a cuddle, so he went back to do just that, leaving his security behind. O'Dwyer was flattered by the prince's attention and love of her dog and told The Sun, "He actually broke with protocol on his way out. It's great that Matisse has got the royal seal of approval." She added that Harry and Matisse connected instantly. "Matisse can feel when he's met someone who is appreciative of dogs. It was clear he was comfortable and relaxed with Harry so it was a lovely moment," she recalled. "He said if he had a dog he would want Matisse, or a dog as clever as Matisse."

Clearly, Harry made both the dog and its owner's day. The stern talking-to he likely got from his security detail was probably well worth it.

He is a hugger, despite royal protocol discouraging it

Most members of the royal family might prefer a firm handshake or a curtsy. However, Prince Harry's up for going right in for an embrace, and boy, has he made many a fan happy with his bear hugs.

In 2012, Harry broke royal protocol when he hugged English darts player Adrian Lewis after the latter won a game. Lewis was so flabbergasted by the prince's hug, he had no idea what to do, so instead of just hugging the royal back, Lewis kissed Harry on the cheek. "I thought, 'What are you doing? That's the heir to the throne you're kissing.' He just looked at me — I hope he didn't mind and I don't get beheaded before the final," Lewis said (via the Mirror).

Harry broke protocol again in while visiting Australia in 2018 when he hugged a fan holding a sign that read, "Been Here Since 4 am! Loved U Since I Was 8!!!" Harry's heart seemed to melt and he gave her a big old hug, leaving her in tears. "You're going to get me in trouble," he joked as they parted (via E! News). While volunteering at Homeboy Industries in 2020, Harry handed out another hug to a heartbroken team member whose son's father had recently died. "Harry was immediate. He just threw his arms around her and held her for a long time. It was very, very touching," the nonprofit's founder, Father Greg Boyle, told Us Weekly.

He once signed a girl's cast

Members of the royal family are not to give you their autograph, no matter how nicely you ask ... except if the royal happens to be Prince Harry, that is. The reason members of the royal family are forbidden from giving autographs is quite surprising, but it makes sense when you think about it. Since some of them, like Prince Harry, have the power to sign legislation and government documents, it could be disastrous if someone managed to copy their signature. When royals willingly hand out autographs like Hollywood celebrities, they open themselves up to possibly having their signature forged. So basically, it's for their own safety as well as their country's.

Still, Prince Harry made an exception to this rule in 2010 when he met Charlotte Wilkinson-Burnett, who at the time was an Air Training Corps cadet. She had fractured her arm and was wearing a cast. When Wilkinson-Burnett asked Harry to sign her cast, the prince clearly didn't have the heart to say no, and obliged. "Get well soon! Harry," he wrote.

Harry's rule-breaking moment made plenty of headlines, with many outlets speculating whether or not he would be getting a stern talking-to from his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. Wilkinson-Burnett, of course, was thrilled, telling Express, "The cast is coming off on May 18 but I'm keeping it now — it's going in a glass box."

Prince Harry closes his own car doors

Prince Harry's wife, Meghan Markle, got into plenty of trouble for breaking royal rules and traditions, one of which was closing her own car door. Turns out, when you're a royal, you have people for that. But a year after this faux pass made waves, Prince Harry was caught doing the exact same thing when he attended the fifth anniversary of the Invictus Games in London. Of course, the press noticed, and the prince made headlines for being independent. Before this incident, some outlets reported that Harry was following Meghan's lead when he arrived at the Royal Marine base in Devon in February 2019 and shut his own car door. Cue the wave of shocked headlines.

So why do royals usually have their car doors opened and closed for them? Well, it's mainly for security reasons and not necessarily because they think they're above everyone else, etiquette expert William Hanson told BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat.

After Harry's breach of protocol at the Royal Marine base made headlines, its representatives took to X (formerly Twitter) to make light of the situation. "We thought the visit had gone so well until we saw this report of an epic planning fail on our part. We can only apologise to the nation for letting you all down. You have a right to expect better Royal car door etiquette from your Commandos," the tweet read. We bet Prince Harry thought the whole ordeal hilarious.

Harry brought Meghan to the queen's holiday events

While many of the details surrounding Prince Harry and Prince William's feud are still shrouded in mystery, one possible inciting incident might have been that time Harry got permission from Queen Elizabeth II to bring Meghan Markle to the royal family's Christmas celebrations — and the queen said yes.

In the world of the monarchy, traditions are important. One such important ancient tradition is that fiancées don't get to spend Christmas with the royal family. Princess Catherine, for instance, had to spend Christmas in 2010 with her family despite being engaged to William at the time. It's just the way things worked.

Then came Meghan, and the tradition was broken, and according to a family friend, it didn't even take much convincing from Harry. "If Harry asks for something, the queen would say yes as she adores him," they told People. "Attending as a fiancée is a first for the family," an insider told Us Weekly, but they explained that the queen was likely happy to make the exception because Meghan had already moved to the U.K. at that point and didn't have any family nearby to spend Christmas with.

Harry's wedding date broke royal tradition

Inviting Meghan Markle over for Christmas celebrations with Queen Elizabeth II wasn't the only time Prince Harry broke royal tradition for his then-fiancée. He did so again when he and Meghan picked their wedding date.

It's been tradition for royal couples to get married on a weekday. The queen and Prince Philip had their nuptials on a Thursday, Princess Diana and King Charles III said "I do" on a Wednesday, and rule sticklers Prince William and Princess Catherine wed on a Friday. When it was Prince Harry and Meghan's turn, they decided to get married on a Saturday.

The month was also a little, erm, controversial, thanks to an age-old superstition that getting married in May spells trouble for your marriage. The person behind this unspoken tradition? Queen Victoria, who believed that the superstitious rhyme "Marry in May, and rue the day" had some merit. Harry and Meghan weren't the first royal couple to get married in May, however: Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones tied the knot in May, as did Princess Anne's son, Peter Philips. Alas, both these couples' marriages ended in divorce, so Queen Victoria might have been on to something.

Harry's wedding cake was anything but traditional

When you're a member of the royal family (or about to become one) there are some things you simply can't do at your royal wedding. For starters, you aren't supposed to have anything other than fruit cake at the event. This tradition was also started by Queen Victoria, whose 1840 wedding was celebrated with a fruit cake. The royals who came after her followed suit, except for Prince Harry, of course. Instead, he and Meghan Markle decided to go with an elderflower cake with buttercream frosting topped with fresh flowers.

Their wedding cake baker, Claire Ptak, told Town & Country that the couple never considered sticking to tradition. "We discussed that they wanted something very unique and outside the box; they didn't feel that there should be any kind of constrictions, to do something within tradition," she told the outlet. She explained that Harry and Meghan knew exactly what they wanted, and that she really admired that about them. The couple's clear direction also made designing and planning the cake a breeze, Ptak said.

Harry opted to wear a wedding band

Traditionally, royal husbands really don't wear wedding bands. Yes, really. Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II's husband, never wore a wedding band in the 73 years they were married. Princess Catherine and Prince William also stuck to tradition, as William has famously gone without a wedding band. When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married, however, the prince not only opted for a wedding band, but he also went against tradition by choosing platinum instead of Welsh gold, which is favored by the royal family.

Speaking to Vogue, royal author Penny Junor said that Harry's decision to wear a wedding band spoke volumes. "I think it shows, as if proof were needed, that Harry is the least conventional member of the royal family," she said. "Harry's chosen to do what most married men do today. I like it."

It might seem odd for men not to wear wedding bands these days, but it used to be the norm. It only changed when World War II broke out and men found themselves far away from their wives and children. They started wearing wedding bands as a reminder of their loved ones and the tradition stuck. While many of the royals seem to favor old traditions, Harry is definitely more of a modern man.

When it comes to PDA, Harry is game

Catching royal PDA moments on camera is rare — so rare, in fact, that even the slightest bit of PDA will make headlines. But Prince Harry and Meghan Markle blessed the public (and photographers) with plenty of PDA while they were working royals. It wasn't surprising — Prince Harry had never been a stickler for the rules, and he definitely wasn't about to become one when it came to showing affection to his wife in public.

When the couple made their public debut at the Invictus Games, Harry held on to Meghan's hand as they made their way to their seats, and when they announced their engagement, the two held hands throughout the entire photo call. They also shared a kiss outside the church after they got married. There was no shortage of PDA when it came to these two, not even when they were technically "working" while on royal tours. During the couple's South Africa tour, plenty of pictures surfaced of them holding hands and sharing loving glances. During an interview with British reporters (via X), Meghan even became a little flustered when she was asked about Harry's return (he was visiting other countries while she remained behind). "We're reuniting today, which I can't wait for. I miss him so much," she gushed. Photos taken the following day showed the couple holding hands and looking thrilled to be back together at last.

Harry's up for taking a picture any time

When you're a member of the royal family, you're like an A-list celebrity with limitations: no autographs, no hugging fans, no selfies. It should come as no surprise that Prince Harry has ignored all three.

The reason royals don't take selfies with fans is because of security reasons, royal commentator Victoria Arbiter told Business Insider. "Royals would always rather have a personal interaction than have people clamoring for selfies," she explained. "If you grant one, then it quickly becomes overwhelming. From a security standpoint, they're also not ideal as they warrant a certain closeness." Prince Harry doesn't seem to mind this closeness, at least not when it comes to young fans. In 2014, he posed for a picture with a young girl, who also sported a head of red hair, while he made his way to BBC radio's studios to talk about the 2014 Invictus Games.

Harry broke this particular royal rule once again in 2018 while he and Meghan Markle were visiting Australia. They ran into a fan that Harry thought looked just like Meghan. Meghan started talking to the girl and Harry took a picture of the two of them. After leaving the royal family behind, Harry has continued to pose for selfies, and he and Meghan made headlines when they took a photo with a fan and her daughter while they were out on a date in 2023.

Harry left royal life behind and spilled plenty of royal secrets

In 2020, Prince Harry pulled the ultimate rebel move and announced that he and his wife, Meghan Markle, would be stepping down as working royals. They proceeded to trade the U.K. for the U.S., and barely a year after their departure, they started dropping royal bombshells left and right. Harry and Meghan granted Oprah Winfrey an interview in which Meghan revealed that she struggled with mental health issues and stated that the palace wouldn't let her get help. The couple also claimed that some royal family members had been concerned about what the color of their son's skin would be. They did not say which member of the family it was.

In 2022, Harry released a Netflix docuseries with Meghan simply titled, "Harry & Meghan," in which they gave viewers an inside look at the workings of the palace and the institution's relationship with the British press. Harry claimed that the palace leaked stories about him and Meghan to the media and that they refused to help when the press was tearing Meghan apart. One month after the docuseries came Harry's tell-all memoir, "Spare." Two of the most shocking revelations in this book centered around Prince William, with Harry claiming that his brother and Princess Catherine encouraged him to wear a Nazi costume to a party because they thought it would be amusing and that William once got into a physical fight with him over Meghan.

Harry accepted expensive gifts on his 2024 Nigeria tour

Now that Prince Harry is no longer a working member of the royal family, he can technically do as he pleases. However, many still ridicule him for breaking the royal rules he used to be subjected to before he left the monarchy.

During Harry and Meghan Markle's 2024 Nigeria tour, the couple was showered with gifts from their hosts. Royal pundits would tell you that, had they still been working royals, they would have had to decline most of these gifts. There are a slew of rules when it comes to accepting gifts when you're a royal. For one, a gift's value is not allowed to exceed a certain amount, the receiver should gauge whether the gift is possibly being given as a bribe and whether it's appropriate. Extravagant gifts should, by principle, usually be declined. Even the gifts that are accepted by royals need to go through a logging process so the royal family has a record of items received by members of the firm.

But Harry and Meghan can do as they please, and they accepted around 20 gifts from the Nigerian people, which included clothes, jewelry, and artwork. We bet some of these items were way above the royal approved monetary value. The couple seemed grateful for the hospitality with which they'd been received, with Meghan telling People, "It was incredibly memorable and special. That alone is the best souvenir to take with us — all the memories we've made."