Sunday Times

If you do get to meet them, here’s what NOT to do


● Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, might be trying to put South Africans at ease by declining to send out an etiquette directive to their hosts, as usually happens before a royal visit to any country, but it seems to have caused more unease than anything else.

“I have no idea how to speak to them,” said Jacky Poking, secretary of the Bo-Kaap Civic & Ratepayers Associatio­n, who will meet the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Heritage Day when they explore the historic Cape Town neighbourh­ood.

“We haven’t received any official brief on etiquette. I think it’s because the Sussexes want to keep it informal. I don’t even know how we’re supposed to greet them.

“We are very excited to introduce them to the BoKaap. They are going to Africa’s oldest mosque [Auwal Masjid], then they are going for tea at one of the local’s houses. They will get to taste the traditiona­l savoury and sweet snacks: melktert, koeksister­s, samosas, that sort of thing.”

One person who probably won’t have qualms about etiquette is Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who will host the couple for tea in Cape Town. Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation chair Niclas Kjellström Matseke said Tutu had “a very good relationsh­ip with the Queen”.

He said discussion­s would be about “people and the environmen­t”.

“There were discussion­s about what canapés we would serve and whether it would be South African or not, but we haven’t really concluded yet. What I can say is that it will be outstandin­g and delicate.

“When they leave they will receive a special gift made by some great women in a township in the Western Cape. If there is time afterwards we will show them the exhibition of the legacy of Tutu at the museum in the Desmond & Leah Tutu Foundation building.”

A recent directive from Buckingham Palace to the couple’s neighbours at Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor estate might help etiquette confusion. The guidelines include no petting their dogs, and do not ask to see baby Archie or offer to babysit.

The dogs aren’t accompanyi­ng them to SA, but Archie is, so be warned.

As for greeting them, palace etiquette states that Meghan should first be addressed as “Your Royal Highness” and thereafter as “Ma’am”.

Harry should be met with a handshake, as should his wife, though it is customary for women to give a small curtsy when meeting a member of the royal family. It is totally verboten to whip out your phone and take a photo of any royal during conversati­on, let alone ask for a selfie with them.

Hugging is also strictly off limits, although Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, has been known to flout that rule. She’s not the only royal to occasional­ly break with etiquette: Harry committed a huge blunder at the fifth anniversar­y of the Invictus

Games this year when he shut the door of the car he’d just climbed out of. For security reasons, the royals may never open or close their own doors.

Meghan’s wardrobe in SA, despite the season, will include stockings. Other than that, we have no idea what she will wear — her spokespers­on, Julie Burley, declined to answer questions about her wardrobe.

It is totally verboten to whip out your phone and take a photo of any royal during conversati­on

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