Over the summer, it appeared as if Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton put their allegedly rocky past behind them. The duchesses reportedly bonded about being mothers after Meghan gave birth to Baby Archie, and developed a genuine friendship that wasn't just for the sake of optics.
However, on Sunday, royal watchers begin to question a return of their rift when Meghan and Kate stood on separate balconies during Sunday's Remembrance Day ceremony. Meghan joined the Queen's daughter-in-law Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and Princess Anne's husband, Sir Timothy Laurence. Meanwhile, Kate watched with Camilla and Queen Elizabeth on a nearby perch.
While the uncoupling of Meghan and Kate was intentional, it wasn't because of any bad blood. Instead, there's a royal pecking order to uphold at these types of events, and the balconies at The Cenotaph are small, fitting only three people on each one.
The current hierarchy lists the Queen first, followed by Prince Philip (who did not attend). Next in line, is the eldest son of the sovereign, Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla. Afterward, that leaves Prince William who ranks higher than his brother Harry, and their wives's positions, which flow in accordingly.
Last year, Meghan wasn't joined by any of the royals and stood next to German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s wife Elke Budenbender.
"Variations occur when special guests are present, such as Queen Máxima of the Netherlands and the President of Germany's wife in recent years," explains Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine. Also, depending on which members of the family are present for an event, the positioning can vary, but always follows the same order.
Therefore, royal protocol reigns over personal relationships.