Royals

Why the Queen allowed Duchess Catherine to break protocol and kiss her in public

The kiss that got everyone talking!

Image: Getty
If there's one thing we've learned about the royal family, it's that everything they do - and we mean everything - is steeped in tradition and protocol. So when traditions and protocols are broken everyone gets excited - even more so when the Queen doesn't appear to bat an eyelid.
Earlier this week we were treated to seeing the Cambridge family explore the garden that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, created collaboratively for the Chelsea Flower Show. The Queen also visited the garden and was shown around by the duchess and Prince William.
But what was extraordinary was how the Queen was greeted by William and Catherine.
Both kissed her on both cheeks, a greeting that you'd expect to be reserved for behind closed doors when the royal family is firmly out of the spotlight. Catherine quickly followed the kisses with a curtsy - the accepted way for a female to greet Her Majesty in public - but the world had already started talking.
What did it mean?
One Twitter user said: "It's like the formal part was an afterthought. I think they forgot the cameras were there."
Another commented: "Interesting kisses before courtesy. I figured it'd be more formal first."
You can understand Prince William, second in line to the throne, getting away with kissing his grandmother in public. He's done it and we've seen Prince Harry kiss his grandmother too. But can a granddaughter-in-law get away with it?
Some believe it shows just how highly the Queen thinks of Catherine.
Duchess Catherine and Prince William show the Queen around the garden that Catherine co-created for the Chelsea Flower Show. Image: Getty
In recent months the Queen has shown that she holds the duchess in high regard in other ways, too.
In March, the Queen singled Kate out for a solo official visit. Kate accompanied her to Kings College London to open Bush House, an education and learning facility.
According to People, it was the first time since Kate married into the Royal Family in 2011 that she has made a public appearance with the Queen without another member of the royal family present. However it was also noted that ahead of Kate and Prince William's wedding, the Queen viewed Kate's wedding dress with her privately.
And then on April 29 the Queen made Catherine a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victoria Order (GCVO), the highest accolade Her Majesty can bequeath.
The Royal Victorian order was created by Queen Victoria in 1896, as a way for the sovereign to personally thank and honour those who have served the Sovereign or the monarchy in a particular way.
Catherine and the Queen's first solo outing together. Image: Getty
Of course, it could also be a reflection of the Queen's increasingly relaxed approach to royal protocol, an acceptance of a more modern monarchy.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, got her first official solo outing with Her Majesty within a month of marrying Prince Harry. The pair giggled their way through an outing in Cheshire and travelled there in the Queen's personal train, which is only ever used for top-tier senior royals.
While the Queen is said to have spoken to Prince Harrry and Duchess Meghan about their public displays of affection, the pair are still openly affectionate in public. She seems to have also turned a blind eye to Meghan's wearing of pants instead of skirts to official engagements. Meghan gave a brief speech at her and Harry's wedding reception, and also wore a gown that exposed her shoulders - breaking two protocols less than 24 hours after marrying into the royal family.
Ahead of the birth of William and Catherine's first child, the Queen stepped in to make sure all of their children would become HRHs. While Prince George would always have been a prince, Charlotte and Louis would have been given lesser titles due to George V's declaration that "the grandchildren of the sons of any such sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of dukes of these Our realms."
Duchess Meghan's first solo outing with the Queen in June 2018. Image: Getty
In April Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan were widely criticised for leaving an overly informal comment on William and Catherine's Instagram account, wishing Prince Louis a happy first birthday.
"Happy Birthday Louis!" @sussexroyal commented. "Sending lots of love from both of us."
The comment was followed by a birthday cake and balloon emoji and signed off with an "xo".
Some argued that part of the charm of the royal family was in its formality and when that is lost, so is its mystique.
Whether this also applies to how the royal family members greet one another in public perhaps remains to be seen.