Meghan Markle closing her car door this week shocked the nation.
Could it really be that a duchess actually stepped out of her chauffeur-driven car and was forced to use her bicep muscles to push her car door shut?
Her protection officer had opened the car door for her initially but stepped back to give her room while she was greeted by the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London Sir Kenneth Olisa for her first solo engagement. Given the fact her protection officer was no longer by her side, Meghan didnt think twice about dutifully closing the door for herself.
And so she should. After all, its closing a car door.
But the furore among some royal fans was instantaneous – why did Meghan close her car door? Why did her protection officer not jump to close it for her? Had she broken royal protocol? Was she ignoring royal protocol to show the world she is an independent, strong woman? Whatever next?
The fact of the matter is Meghan had not broken royal protocol – there are no royal rules stating one cannot close a car door, despite what some royal fans seem to believe.
Historian Ted Powell says the only reason royal protection officers usually open and close car doors for their subjects is to do everything necessary for the safety and security of the Royal Family. It is not a formal protocol rule.
Despite the apparent belief that actions such as closing doors are too taxing for royals, the shocking truth is: members of the Royal Family have been fending for themselves for years. And its not just shutting car doors either. Its holding umbrellas, carrying bags and even driving themselves around too.
Dont believe us? Heres the proof…
They close car doors…
This is what were used to seeing – royal aides holding doors open for members of the Royal Family.
But now Meghan has started a new trend. Or has she?
Not quite. Firstly, Tuesday night wasnt actually the first time Meghan had closed her own car door.
On Thursday 20 September, Meghan invited members of the Grenfell Tower community to Kensington Palace for the Together cookbook launch. As she arrived at the Palace with Prince Harry and her mother, Doria Ragland, Meghan stepped out of her car and, lo and behold, closed her own car door.
Added to which, Wills and Kate have both been spotted opened and closing their car doors themselves a few times over the years.
Prince Harry famously opened his car door for new wife Meghan Markle on their wedding day as they headed off for their evening reception, too.
Why the furore?
Historian and author Ted Powell explains why there has been such a furore surrounding Meghans car door antics.
The question of whether Meghan was right or wrong to close her own car door might seem trivial. She is not the first royal to have flouted royal etiquette and its always something royals have struggled with.
Shortly before Edward VIII became King he famously decided to walk the two minutes from Buckingham Palace to the Duchy of Cornwalls offices rather than calling for a car. It started to rain and he put up his umbrella. Inevitably he was photographed doing so and then widely criticised for being caught in the shockingly informal pose of carrying his own umbrella.
The more serious issue underlying this is about the way the Duchess is somehow being disempowered as a member of the royal family. Before she became the Duchess of Sussex we saw Meghan Markle as a modern and empowered woman. The undercurrent here is that now she is a member of the royal family she is very constrained by the role. She is losing the natural force of her personality. If she were a man this would be seen as a form of emasculation. She is no longer able to do the simplest things for herself.
While Meghan is taking time to adjust to her role she is also making important statements in the activities she is pursuing. Maybe she will reinvent royal protocol and silly observations about whether she closes her own car door will fall away.
They hold their umbrellas…
Even the Queen isnt exempt from this whole fending for oneself lark – shes often seen holding her own umbrella.
Even when her umbrella is down and its not raining, the Queen still carries around her umbrella. And everyone knows what a pain carrying a closed umbrella around can be.
In fact, the Queen Mother was often seen shielding herself from the rain, too.
Good enough for the royals… but not Rafael
Prince Philip has also been seen shielding himself and the Queen from the odd shower in times gone past.
And Prince Charles is no stranger to umbrella-holding, either.
In fact, it seems holding your own umbrella is fairly standard practice in royal circles, as Kate Middleton, Prince William and Prince Harry will testify.
They carry their own bags…
Occasionally, royals are seen carrying their own baggage, too. While those that found Meghan having to close her own car door shocking might also find this a head-turner, Harrys been doing it since he was a child.
This is more like it.
The assistant to Kates Private Secretary Sophie Agnew and the Duchess of Cambridges PA and Stylist Natasha Archer carry items of luggage as they arrives at Tezpur Airport in April 2016 in Assam, India, where the Duke and Duchess were on a week-long tour of India and Bhutan.
They open doors…
The Queen and Prince Philip might have still had the door opened for them, but it was Prince William who was doing the manual labour.
William and his grandparents were having a tour as they opened the East Anglian Air Ambulance Base at Cambridge Airport in July 2016 and during the tour, William was seen holding open the door for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
All of this fuss over Meghans car door-closing is starting to seem overzealous, no?
And Prince Harry is getting in on the act too, here opening a door at an engagement earlier this month.
They hold their own drinks…
Yep – as well as closing car doors, the royals even hold their own drinks, as Kate proves here holding her own mug of tea.
They even wipe their own faces…
No, the Royal Family do not have assistants who follow them around wiping their faces if they spot beads of sweat.
They drive themselves around…
For those that think a royal cant even close a door, what about driving?
Monarchy fans will know the Royal Family love a jolly good drive – with the Queen regularly spotted driving her Range Rover around her estates.
The royal households do come with dedicated chefs but even Prince William cooked his own dinners while studying at Eton College during his boarding school days.
They clean their own glasses…
What the Queen does or says goes. It just does. So if the Queen can stop in her tracks and clean her own glasses without having the need to call one of her aides to assist, were guessing the Royal Family members can be as independent as they wish.
You see – theyre just like us really. Keep closing those doors, Meg.