Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton’s curtsies have been compared in a viral TikTok video posted eight months after a backlash against the Duchess of Sussex.
Meghan said in her December 2022 Netflix docuseries that she performed her first-ever curtsy to Queen Elizabeth II incorrectly, in a style better suited to “Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament,” as the duchess put it. However, her description sparked a backlash on social media and accusations of cultural insensitivity.
Eight months on, her off-the-cuff account is still drawing a significant audience from online critics. A TikTok video posted four days ago has been viewed over 885,000 times and liked more than 38,000 times.
The post contained a clip of Meghan reenacting a flawed curtsy, bending forward in an exaggerated bow, from the Harry & Meghan Netflix docuseries. The footage is followed by a series of clips of Kate curtsying at royal events.
One comment read: “Love princess Kate she is very kind and lovely God bless her and her beautiful family.” Another poster wrote: “Thats what done it for me.”
In the original episode, Meghan described her curtsy to the queen: “I mean, Americans will understand this, we have ‘Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament.’ It was like that.”
What is particularly interesting about the enduring power of the debate is that, in Prince Harry’s book Spare, he wrote that Meghan’s curtsy may have been better than she let on. He added that she was given a crash course by Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York.
Harry wrote: “Fergie came outside, somewhat aflutter, and said: Do you know how to curtsy? Meg shook her head. Fergie demonstrated once. Meg imitated her.
“There wasn’t time for a more advanced tutorial. We couldn’t keep Granny waiting,” the prince added.
“Meg went straight to her and dropped a deep, flawless curtsy.” Meghan, he wrote, said: “Your Majesty. Pleasure to meet you.”
The two accounts do not appear to match, not only because Harry wrote that Meghan’s curtsy was flawless, but also because the prince added that Meghan had just been given a demonstration by Ferguson. It is therefore difficult to see why Meghan would fall back on American cultural reference points next to a “tutorial” from an experienced duchess.
Yet, eight months on, Meghan’s account of her awkward bow continues to stir a backlash and has become the enduring memory of the duchess’s curtsies.
The montage of Kate includes a clip of the Princess of Wales’ curtsy at church at Sandringham in Norfolk, England, on Christmas Day, 2018.
Meghan also performed a curtsy that day, although it is not included in the TikTok video. It was described as “perfect” in a People magazine headline at the time.
The duchess was criticized for her curtsy to the queen at Sandringham in December 2017. Some said that it was not deep enough but, even then, there was no hint of “Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament.”
So, Meghan’s account to Netflix appears to have taken such deep root in the public consciousness that it has replaced the real curtsies she has performed during her time as a working royal, including the ones that were caught on camera.
Jack Royston is chief royal correspondent for Newsweek, based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jack_royston and read his stories on Newsweek‘s The Royals Facebook page.
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