Meghan Markle can’t seem to resist breaking with royal tradition — respectfully, mind you — whenever possible. Throughout her relationship with Prince Harry, Markle has written her own rules about how to live among the royal family while still honoring some of her future in-laws’ most treasured traditions. Now, it would seem she’s leaning into that instinct to do her own thing, attending the Commonwealth Youth Forum in London on April 18. While meeting with a forum of young delegates from across Britain’s Commonwealth countries is routine for royals, it is not for royal fiancées. This makes Markle’s attendance at the event an unprecedented move.
The Commonwealth Youth Forum is part of a much larger event, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Per Vanity Fair, royal fiancées typically don’t take part in this particular week at all. Thanks to a short video shared by Kensington Palace, though, it’s clear Markle actively engaged with delegates at the forum.
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) April 18, 2018
Why is this a big deal? Well, for starters, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting is a high-profile event. It convenes every two years in London and involves 53 leaders from across the Commonwealth. Historically, the forum serves to establish policies on contentious issues and current events. There’s often a special focus on issues that directly affect nations of Commonwealth members. Examples of prior discussions include apartheid rule in South Africa and military coups in Pakistan. Although the Commonwealth members don’t always agree on a solution, they release a statement at the conclusion of the summit expressing their opinions.
The Commonwealth Youth Forum encourages cross-cultural connections and entails the discussion of political policies that affect young people.
Naturally, it stands to reason the royal family would not want to risk any faux pas at a meeting of such importance. Also, given the controversial nature of some of the subjects addressed, the royal family would have to be confident that whoever represents them maintains a certain level of decorum. In other words, they wouldn’t want someone there who couldn’t address a tense conversation diplomatically.
That’s quite a bit of pressure to put on Prince Harry’s betrothed, but if her attendance at royal events so far is any indication, the family clearly has faith in her ability to act appropriately. “Clearly the feeling is that she is equipped and ready for the job even before the ring is on her finger,” a former courtier reportedly told Vanity Fair. “This is quite unusual. C.H.O.G.M. is a very important official meeting. It’s quite something for Meghan to be involved.”
Markle has had some notable previous breaks with royal tradition before this moment, including holding Prince Harry’s hand in public, nixing tights for her wardrobe to major public events, wearing cross-body bags instead of carrying clutches, and even giving autographs to the public.
Markle will also attend the Women’s Empowerment Reception on Thursday, April 19, which will be a forum of charities and organizations devoted to promoting gender equality through girls’ education. Additionally, it’s worth noting that April 19 marks exactly one month until her wedding day — exciting!