Stepping out by herself for work for the first time since she traded showgirl life for a prince, Meghan Markle pulled off a double-header: she broke protocol and showed off an unusual skill.
The guest of honour at the opening of the Oceania art exhibition at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, Meghan had to stifle laughter as she took part in a ‘hongi’ – a traditional Maori greeting of rubbing noses.
The Duchess of Sussex, 37, visibly smiled as she leaned in to bump faces with New Zealand’s high commissioner Sir Jerry Mataparae, who himself stayed tight-lipped.
Meghan also did hongis with Sir Jerry’s wife Janine and performers from Ngati Ranan, a London-based Maori club that entertained guests.
If the former Suits star’s moves looked slick, it’s because she’s no novice. Meghan also did a hongi at an Anzac Day service she attended with husband Prince Harry by her side.
Tuesday’s hongis, combined with kisses, were captured by ITV’s royals correspondent Chris Ship:
I nose what’s going on here: a hongi, a symbolic pressing of noses, was shared between the Duchess of Sussex and a group of performers at the UK’s first exhibition of historic and contemporary art from the #Oceania region pic.twitter.com/3aAdOlX7oF
— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) September 25, 2018
But that wasn’t all she showed off.
To mark her solo debut as a royal at the exhibition on Tuesday (British time), Meghan played her independent woman card by breaking protocol in a subtle way.
After shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries with one of the night’s hosts, Meghan casually shut her own car door.
“First time I’ve seen an on-duty princess shut her own car door … ” noted one Twitter user.
— Emily Andrews (@byEmilyAndrews) September 25, 2018
During the outing, Meghan viewed more than 200 pieces of art from Australia, New Zealand and Tonga – countries she and Harry, 34, will visit next month – from the past 500 years.
While her car etiquette and hongis drew attention, her other showstopper was her outfit, with its reported $25,000 price tag later making headlines.
The duchess wore a long-sleeved midi dress by Givenchy, her wedding dress designer and current favourite, and carried a clutch from the same couture house, which headed by Brit Claire Waight-Keller.
She teamed the structured dress with her go-to Aquazzura pumps and – her big ticket item – a pair of earrings that were reportedly $16,550 Birks Snowflake Snowstorm diamonds.
Meghan’s tailored, contemporary working woman look, in unroyal black, was a total contrast to the outfit Kate Middleton wore for her own first solo outing.
While Meghan has been deemed fit for work by herself four months after her wedding, Kate had to wait six. She was swung onto the October 2011 job at the last minute after Prince Charles had to fly to Saudi Arabia and Prince William was busy with RAF commitments.
Kate’s interpretation of black tie was an Amanda Wakeley sea foam green evening gown with silver strap details, worn with Jimmy Choo heels, with the same half-up, half-down look she chose as a bride.
While Meghan was without her husband this time, there are reports they skipped a close friend’s wedding on the weekend to “sneak” away for a a couple of days in Amsterdam.
The pair jetted off to celebrate the launch of celebrity hangout Soho House’s newest branch, according to the Evening Standard.
Meghan and Harry mingled with showbiz A-listers including Eddie Redmayne and Stanley Tucci over the weekend, which featured a lobster spaghetti dinner and kicked off with a tour of Amsterdam’s red light district.
Harry and Meghan skipped that one, according to the UK newspaper, but did climb aboard for a boat ride through the city’s canals.