Why Prince William ‘Recoiled’ Over Meghan Markle’s Hug During First Meeting

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Prince Harry wrote in Spare that his brother Prince William and wife Kate Middleton were major Suits fans, but when William met Harry’s then-girlfriend Meghan Markle for the first time, things started off on a very awkward note. Harry detailed, via Page Six, that his brother physically “recoiled” when the American actress gave him a hug to say hello.

“[It] completely freaked him out,” Harry wrote of the hug, “He recoiled. Willy didn’t hug many strangers. Whereas Meg hugged most strangers.”

William was expecting Meghan to curtsy, but Harry hadn’t advised her to, as he didn’t think the casual meeting warranted it. “Will had hoped that she would greet him with standard reverence per the protocol because she didn’t know it and I hadn’t told her,” Harry wrote, according to the outlet. “When meeting my grandmother [the late Queen Elizabeth II], I’d made it clear [curtsying was needed]—this is the queen, but when meeting my brother, it was just Willy, who loved Suits.” Harry added that Kate Middleton had also been present with her children outside.

Kate was also not keen on Meghan hugging her during their first meeting, Meghan herself revealed in her and her husband’s Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan, released last month. Hugging as a greeting generally isn’t as common in the UK as it is in the U.S. and is typically reserved for friends or close family.

“Even when Will and Kate came over, and I had met her for the first time, they came over for dinner,” Meghan recalled. “I remember I was in ripped jeans, and I was barefoot. Like, I was a hugger, I’ve always been a hugger. I didn’t realize that that is really jarring for a lot of Brits. I guess I started to understand very quickly that the formality on the outside carried through on the inside. That there is a forward-facing way of being. And then you close the door and you are like, ‘Oh, great. Okay, we can relax now.’ But that formality carries over on both sides. And that was surprising to me.”

Senior News and Strategy Editor

Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.