British Royal Family

What’s the deal with Meghan Markle’s ‘Duchess lean'?

Our etiquette expert weighs in on the simple, yet constantly scrutinised, cross-legged seating position that is leaving Royal watchers divided.

By Ellie McDonald

Whether she's showing face at Buckingham Palace for Trooping The Colour or accompanying the Queen on her top-tier-Royals-only train, Meghan Markle is primped to regal perfection (so much so even her accent is developing a slight English twang).

WATCH Meghan Markle speak to crowds in Cheshire with her posh new accent. Post continues after this video.

But it was her latest appearance at the Queen's Youth Leaders Awards – namely, how she sat in her 'Duchess lean' – that has sent the internet into overdrive.

This is because it's said that a woman in the royal family should not cross her legs when seated.

Meghan, doing her version of the Duchess lean. Although, is her pose breaking Royal tradition?
Meghan, doing her version of the Duchess lean. Although, is her pose breaking Royal tradition?

But is this true? Does it matter the Meghan crosses her legs while doing her own Duchess lean? And what about the men in the Royal family? How come they can sit however they like when even the Queen is schooled into sitting a certain way? Here, we call on Zarife Hardy, director of the Australian School of Etiquette, to sort the fact from fiction.

Is Meghan Markle doing the ‘Princess lean’ correctly? Or has she made her own 'Duchess lean'?

It has been very interesting watching Meghan Markle's transformation.

Traditionally, Royal women have been trained to sit with their legs positioned two ways: 1. Knees together and ankles together (this is the position the Queen predominantly uses). And 2. The Princess slant, ankles together and slightly slanted to one side (you can cross your ankles if it is more comfortable).

Meghan crossing her legs - in front of the Queen! Rule-breaker or trend-setter?
Meghan crossing her legs - in front of the Queen! Rule-breaker or trend-setter?

Royal ladies are also taught to sit with an egg width between their back and the seat, their chin level to the ground, never look down and always look out.

The one royal rule is there is no crossing of the legs in the front position (not lady like and a negative barrier).

Meghan Markle entered the royal arena crossing her legs at the front and is now mastering the princess slant with a slight twist at this stage.

Twisting Royal tradition, one seated event at a time...
Twisting Royal tradition, one seated event at a time...

Why does the Queen sit differently, with her legs together, facing forwards?

The Queen does predominately sit with her knees and ankles together; due to her age, it would be challenging for her to slant her legs to the side now as it requires more balance and core strength. She used to sit using the princess slant or cross.

The Queen sitting front and centre (with her knees facing forward) with *Vogue* editor Anna Wintour during last year's London Fashion Week.
The Queen sitting front and centre (with her knees facing forward) with Vogue editor Anna Wintour during last year's London Fashion Week.

What about Prince William and Prince Harry? Why do they get to sit however they like?

The main position for men is they must sit up straight with their chest out, both feet firmly on the ground, legs no further apart that the width of their hips and hands placed on top of each leg.

We do see their legs occasionally crossed but it is not an official position and you would rarely see them doing this during official duties.

Leaning in and slightly slanting, Catherine; kicked back and chillaxed, William.
Leaning in and slightly slanting, Catherine; kicked back and chillaxed, William.
The kids Harry visited in New Zealand back in 2011 seem to have taught the Prince a lesson in sitting up straight!
The kids Harry visited in New Zealand back in 2011 seem to have taught the Prince a lesson in sitting up straight!

We are seeing more relaxed royal siting positions due to the fact that the entire world has become more casual even the royals. It is not protocol but they are human and with the intensity of the media they are due to slip up sometimes.