Royal fans have defended Prince Harry and Meghan Markle from criticism over their recent public displays of love as they mourn the Queen by pointing out that Zara Tindall and her husband also held hands as they left the service at Westminster Hall.
On Wednesday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex joined other members of the royal family for a brief service in honor of the late Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Hall. The Duchess paid her respects notably with curtseys, and the Duke openly expressed his sadness at the death of his grandmother.
However, when Harry and Meghan left the service behind the Duke’s brother Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton, they opted to hold hands to show support and affection, which has since sparked mixed reactions.
While some have praised Harry and Meghan for the gesture, many others have slammed the Duke and Duchess, saying holding hands was “inappropriate” for the occasion.
“Meghan Markle holds Harry’s hand in church! Clueless and classless,” one person claimed, while another critic said, “As the family officially walks away from the Queen’s coffin, Meghan holds Harry’s hand! How totally inappropriate! She has no idea how to behave on a state occasion and her behavior is rude to the Queen and the Royal Family.”
Since then, there has been a flood of support from people who have come to defend the couple. Many have pointed out the double standard in the backlash, considering the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Tindall and her husband Mike Tindall also held hands as they left the service at Westminster Hall.
Others noted that Princess Beatrice held the hand of her husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi during her grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral in 2021.
“People who moan about Meghan and Harry say nothing about Mike and Zara Tindall holding hands,” one person tweeted, while another conceded there had been no “criticism” directed at Zara and her husband, before noting: “Having a double standard on abuse and Meghan is a shame.”
The hypocrisy of the criticism also led many to believe the backlash directed against Meghan was racially motivated.
“It seems odd that people only criticized Harry and Meghan for holding hands, not Mike and Zara Tindall. That tends to give the game away that people are racists,” one person tweeted.
Another said: “It was amusing to see the ‘I’m not racist but…’ crowd slamming people #Duchess of Sussex for offering comfort to her husband at the END of today’s event, but straining to apologize to Zara Tindall and her husband as they hold hands.”
“BREAKING: Conservatives are absolutely furious because Harry was holding his wife Meghan’s hand, but they’re not mad that Mike was holding Zara’s hand and no one can figure out why,” another tweeted sarcastically.
This isn’t the first time Harry and Meghan have held hands while paying their respects to the Queen. The couple also got involved in the public display of love when they met with the Prince and Princess of Wales at Windsor Castle earlier this week to greet well-wishers.
While royal protocol does not prohibit members of the royal family from engaging in PDA, according to Myka Meier, royal etiquette expert and founder and director of Beaumont Etiquette, who previously recounted persons “There is no actual etiquette or royal protocol that says the couple must go without epidurals,” the royal family rarely does.
According to Meier, the decision is a matter of preference as well as the “type of event they’re attending.” However, body language expert Robin Kermode previously said so Daily Mail that the Queen, who rarely held hands with Prince Philip in public, may have set a precedent.