In the second episode of the Netflix docuseries titled Harry & Meghan, Meghan recalled her first meeting with Prince Harry’s grandmother shortly after they began dating in 2016.
The duchess said she wasn’t prepared for the introduction to the British ruler and didn’t know she was going to be meeting the Queen until just “moments before”.
“My grandmother was the first senior member of the family that Meghan met,” the Duke of Sussex recalled. “She had no idea what it all consisted of. So it was a bit of a shock to the system for her.”
Meghan then noted that there “wasn’t some big moment of ‘Now you’re gonna meet my grandmother.’”
Meghan recalled 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 then acknowledged the difficulty of explaining the 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.”
The docuseries then saw Meghan reflecting on the realisation that she would need to curtsy to the Queen upon meeting her, at which point the duchess compared the protocol to “Medieval Times, Dinner and Tournament,” a dinner theater featuring staged medieval-style games such as jousting.
Meghan, who claimed that “Americans will understand this,” made the joke while sitting on the couch next to Prince Harry, who appeared slightly uncomfortable.
“It was like that. Like, I curtsied as though I was like…” Meghan continued as she bowed her head dramatically and spread her arms wide. “Pleasure to meet you, Your Majesty.”
As the duchess reenacted the deep curtsy and greeting she offered the Queen, the camera zoomed in on Prince Harry’s face.
“Like, was that okay?” Meghan continued while laughing, before adding: “It was so intense.”
As previously noted by the royal family’s website, there were “no obligatory codes of behaviour when meeting the Queen,” but many people wished to “observe the traditional form. For women, traditional form is “a small curtsy”.
This is the moment that Meghan describes meeting the late Queen Elizabeth for the first time and how she did not understand why she needed to curtsy to Harry‘s grandmother…
He looks a little uncomfortable about the whole thing#HarryandMeghan pic.twitter.com/H9qr7DqwHq
— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) December 8, 2022
Protocol also dictates that all members of the royal family bow to those with the title His Majesty or Her Majesty, which meant that Prince Harry and the rest of his family members bowed to the Queen whenever they greeted her.
On social media, the scene in the Netflix docuseries has been described as “uncomfortable” by viewers, with many expressing discomfort over the duchess’s “disrespectful” recollection and Prince Harry’s reaction.
“I’m an American and I just cringed so hard,” one person tweeted about the scene, while another said: “Is that meant to be funny? Gosh the lack of respect.”
“Is she trying to be funny? Relatable? As an American, it’s really not that hard to grasp curtsying to the Queen,” someone else said.
According to another viewer, the scene is difficult to watch even despite it being filmed before the death of the Queen in September. “I know this was recorded before HM died but this smarts a bit….there’s an element of mockery to it,” they wrote.
“How disrespectful and offensive,” someone else said of Meghan’s comments.
Others were focused on the duke’s reaction, with some suggesting Prince Harry appeared “embarrassed”.
“He looks VERY uncomfortable,” someone else alleged.
Some defended Meghan on the basis that Harry should have explained the proper protocol when greeting the monarch to his partner before he introduced her to the Queen.
“Harry should have made sure Meghan knew how to curtsy and when to curtsy before meeting his grandmother. Why is everyone else at fault but not her boyfriend who should be looking out for her?” one person asked.
Another revealed that they found the curtsy scene “so funny “. “Watching Meghan do that deep bow and Harry’s face,” they added.