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12 Dec 2017 4:20
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  •   Home > News > International

    Will Meghan Markle need to go to 'Duchess school'?

    She's an experienced actress, but will she need some Princess Diaries-style training to learn how to be a royal?


    Next May Meghan Markle will marry Prince Harry and become a member of the Royal family.

    She's had a 15-year career in film and television, and the question now is, how will she become a royal?

    Here's a look.

    Will she need to have Princess Diaries-style training to learn how to be a Royal?

    In the 2001 film The Princess Diaries Anne Hathaway's character — an American teenager — finds out she's a princess of a fictional country called Genovia.

    Cue intensive training in sitting, speaking and waving.

    So will Ms Markle get a similar education from the House of Windsor?

    Probably not, says royal expert and Flinders University Associate Professor Giselle Bastin.

    "She's probably pretty good at that kind of thing and being a highly-trained actor she would be a very good observer of human behaviour, so I'm sure she'll be able to pick that stuff up," Professor Bastin said.

    "The protocols and etiquette she will be taught about will be to do with the rules of precedence, who she has to curtsy to, and perhaps some more tips for perhaps how she will dress for some occasions.

    "But I think — in the main — it's largely a myth that they get tutored at great length on how to be a princess."

    Didn't Princess Diana have lessons?

    Nope.

    "Diana for example said there was a great big story about how she had all of those lessons before her wedding to Prince Charles, but she in fact had nothing at all," she said.

    "It's something you pick up on the job, being royal, and I get the sense of watching her ... that Meghan's going to pick everything up pretty quickly.

    "She seems to be quite a self starter."

    But it doesn't mean Ms Markle won't have to make some changes

    That will include the way she speaks and who she speaks to.

    "She will just learn to be — she seems to be quite controlled about what she says and how she says things — but she will learn to give away even less about some details of her life," Professor Bastin said.

    "She'll learn to be more candid.

    "She'll learn probably that when it comes to meeting the public that she'll be the one who asks question, she doesn't answer questions so much, the royals always lead conversations."

    Professor Bastin said it was about self preservation as much as preserving the royal's reputation.

    "Everything they utter in public gets seized upon," she said.

    "So they've become much better at saying as little as possible in public because they know it will be seized upon and perhaps blown out of proportion."

    What do partners of the Royal family have to give up?

    There's no hard and fast rule, but there is an expectation they will give up work.

    It's been rumoured that Ms Markle will be giving up her role in the television show Suits.

    "There is a tradition that they give up their full-time work but not because it's seen as something that they shouldn't do ... for example Prince Edward's wife Sophie Wessex kept working for several months in fact two or so years after her marriage," Professor Bastin said.

    "It's something that they encourage to give up because it puts them in the situation where there's the potential for being compromised.

    "So people might enter into business with them just to get near them and they can't balance their professional decisions with their royal status so there's always this commercial compromise.

    "Diana was certainly meant to be a full-time princess so she had her job mapped out for her.

    "Catherine never really took on a full-time job knowing full well she'd have to stop doing whatever she was doing because she wouldn't have had complete autonomy or independence within that professional role given that she was a senior member of the royal family."

    What about her clothing?

    There was a bit of talk about the fact Ms Markle didn't wear stockings to her engagement announcement.

    But is that really a big deal? And will we see her style change?

    "It may do," Professor Bastin said.

    "I think it will be fairly slow because Catherine didn't give up her sense of street wear for a long time, mind you it was very expensive street wear.

    "But she still kept wearing her boots, and she didn't make an automatic transition to looking like a much older royal person, she kind of eased into it a bit.

    "It was a fairly easy transition considering she had a conservative dress sense anyway. I think Meghan will be the same."

    What will the next year hold?

    "The tradition is that they always accompany their royal partner for the first couple of years — maybe 18 months — then they start doing the occasional solo appearance, and there will be less pressure on them to be seen as often as some other royals because they're not in the top three of the line of succession," Professor Bastin said.

    "Harry and Meghan are actually in a perfect place.

    "They'll have a lot more time to themselves and make decisions and do things on their own without having to get ready for the throne."

    © 2017 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved


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