The one reason Prince Harry & Meghan Markle can hold hands but Kate Middleton & Prince William can’t


A flurry of photos of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle holding hands, hugging and even—gasp—kissing, surfaced last week, and it got us thinking: How come we never see Prince William and Kate Middleton canoodling in public?

Thankfully, there's a simple explanation.

While there is no royal law that forbids future monarchs (or second-in-line-to-the-throne princes, for that matter) from showing affection, Queen Elizabeth II set a precedent that encourages royals to keep their hands to themselves.

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Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton's love story
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Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton's love story

THE MEET-CUTE

Let’s rewind to the year 2002, when Prince William and Middleton were two young sophomores at the University of St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland. Middleton (philanthropist extraordinaire) volunteered to model in a charity fashion show, and William (a real life prince) paid £200—about $360—to sit front row. Although the Duke of Cambridge was immediately interested in the future Duchess, she was going steady with some university plebeian. When she ended the relationship later that year, her knight prince in shining armor was ready and waiting.

Photo credit: Getty

THE HONEYMOON STAGE

The first photos of Prince William and his new girlfriend surfaced in April 2004. Over the course of the next year, the young lovebirds made several public appearances together in the form of romantic ski getaways and plus-one wedding dates. They even held a joint luncheon with their families to celebrate their June 2005 graduation from St. Andrews.

Photo credit: Getty

THE BREAKUP

After four years of young love, the pair broke things off (gasp) in 2007. A few months prior to their official split, the Middleton family invited William to join them on a holiday getaway to the posh Scottish castle, Jordanstone House. The prince agreed to attend but changed his mind at the last minute, which (understandably) upset K-Middy and sparked tension in the relationship. Over the next few months, the couple rarely saw each other and called it quits in April.

Photo credit: Getty

THE REKINDLING

Following their breakup, both William and Kate became darlings of the London socialite scene. Thankfully, their separation lasted only five months, and by August 2007 they were back together. The pair decided to do things differently this time around and kept their relationship low-key. Naturally, the prince whisked Kate off to the Seychelles, booked an entire resort for their private use and checked in under the names of Martin and Rosemary. You know, for privacy.

Photo credit: Getty

THE ENGAGEMENT

William popped the question while he and Middleton were enjoying a romantic jaunt in Kenya in October 2010. The couple kept their happy news a secret until the following month when the royal family officially announced their engagement to the press and K-Middy stepped out sporting the late Princess Diana’s stunning blue-sapphire-and-diamond ring on her left ring finger. Oh, this old thing?

Photo credit: Getty

THE WEDDING

On April 29, 2011, the wedding of the decade our lifetime took place at Westminster Abbey in London. Kate rolled up to the ceremony in a Rolls-Royce Phantom VI (because why not?) and stunned in an ivory silk and tulle Alexander McQueen gown. After sealing the deal, Middleton emerged from the Abbey with two new titles: Mrs. William Arthur Philip Louis and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge. Not too shabby.

Photo credit: Getty

THE FIRSTBORN CHILD

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their first child, Prince George Alexander Louis, on July 22, 2013. George was only one day old when he made his first public appearance on the steps of St. Mary's Hospital and—since practice makes perfect—the four-year-old is a natural ham in front of the camera.

Photo credit: Getty

THE SECOND-BORN PRINCESS

Two years later, royal baby fever struck again when the family welcomed their second child, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, on May 2, 2015. Char’s birth earned her a spot behind Prince George as the fourth heir in line to the throne, which bumped Uncle Harry down to fifth in line. Sorry, Harry, but you can’t beat Char’s royal dedication. Have you seen her first curtsy?

Photo credit: Getty

RELATED: HER MINI MAJESTY: PRINCESS CHARLOTTE BEARS AN UNCANNY RESEMBLANCE TO QUEEN ELIZABETH II

...AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER

From uni to parenthood, the Duke and the Duchess have come a long way. The family of four currently resides at Kensington Palace in London, which recently underwent a $6.5 million renovation. Sounds like they may be making room for baby number three... JK, there’s plenty of room. It’s a palace.

Photo credit: Getty

RELATED: ROYAL TOUR ALERT: KATE MIDDLETON IS OFFICIALLY MODEST

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Element 1

She and her sweet 96-year-old hubby, Prince Philip, have rarely been photographed being lovey-dovey in her entire 64-year rule because she likes to keep it profesh. Remember, being queen (or any royal) is not all cocktails and garlic bans.

Element 2

So when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are on royal tour or attending a charity function, they're technically on the clock as representatives of the British monarchy and must act as such.

There's also the fact that her majesty has been grooming Prince William to be king since he was a teenager, and what she says goes.

But why, you might ask, does Prince Harry not have to abide by these rules?

Element 3

Once Prince William and Kate welcome their third child, Prince Harry will slide down to sixth in line for the throne. This basically means he's off the hook and can enjoy the freedoms of being a fabulous royal (e.g., kissing Meghan Markle) without all the rigid protocol that comes along with it.

Which brings us to our next point...

Element 4

The Invictus Games, which Prince Harry himself founded in 2014, are not as serious of an event as the traditional royal outing. Hey, even William and K-Middy have been known to high-five and hug at sporting occasions like Wimbledon or the Olympics.

Element 5

When it comes down to it, the level of PDA a royal is allowed really depends on the setting, the occasion and who's watching.

On their 2016 trip to Tiger's Nest Monastary in Bhutan, the Duke and Duchess were seen holding hands and laughing while hiking on a trail tucked away from the public eye. They even took a normal husband-and-wife picture at the summit!

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35 PHOTOS
Prince William and Kate Middleton try archery & other sports in Bhutan
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Prince William and Kate Middleton try archery & other sports in Bhutan

Prince William, and Duchess Kate during an Bhutanese archery demonstration on the first day of a two-day visit to Bhutan on the 14th April 2016 in Paro, Bhutan.

(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Kate and William get prepared to shoot arrows, a wrap is applied to Kate's arm to protect her wrist.

(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

The Duchess of Cambridge throws a dart during a Bhutanese sporting demonstration.

(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Kate and William, clearly excited to try their hand at archery.

(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Kate looks on as the Duke of Cambridge fires an arrow during an Bhutanese archery demonstration.

(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Kate smiles upon arrival at a demonstration of Bhutanese sports at the National Stadium.

(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

William fires an arrow while Kate watches.

(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Kate reacts after trying her hand at archery.

(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Duchess Kate and Prince William watch his first arrow -- which apparently went a little off-course!

(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge walks with Prince William, Duke of Cambridge as part of a ceremonial Chipdrel on arrival into the Tashichhodzong.

(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

The Duchess of Cambridge meets children before a Bhutanese archery demonstration on the first day of the Bhutan visit.

(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

The Duke and Duchess laugh as William shows off his archery skills.

(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Kate and William watching a demonstration.

(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Prince William looks on at an archery display in Thimphu's open-air archery venue.

(Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Duchess Kate reacts after she throws a dart during a Bhutanese sporting demonstration.

(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge react as they take part in archery at Thimphu's open-air archery venue.

(Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Kate cracks up after she fires an arrow and it goes a little bit astray.

(Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

William kindly warns the watching crowd that they might want to move a little to the side.

(Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Oops -- what target?

(Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Prince William gives his best shot, taking part in dart throwing.

(Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Scared, Kate?? The Duchess hilariously reacts to her latest dart toss.

(Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Ah, well! The classic Kate faces continue. 

(Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Prince William looks on as Duchess Kate fires an arrow.

(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Britain's royals seemed to have a blast having a go at archery.

(Photo: ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

Duchess Kate laughs at herself after throwing darts.

(Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

"You just hold it here, dear," William helps instruct Kate on how to hit the bullseye.  

(Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press)

Yes, that's pretty sharp! Kate and William laugh before they try firing a few arrows.

(Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press)

Kate's face though! She braces herself for William's first arrow.

(Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press)

The Duchess reacts during dart throwing at Thimphu's open-air archery.

(Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Their faces are too good -- Kate's hilarious reaction after she fires her first arrow!

(Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

The Duchess of Cambridge puts her head in her hands because she missed the target while taking part in khuru, a traditional Bhutan sport.

(Photo by Danny Martindale/WireImage)

This girl loves her sports.

(Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press)

It's okay Kate, we've all been there!

(Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Even taking part in athletics, the Duchess was perfectly polished in her Paul and Joe wool cape.

(Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press)

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Element 6

When they visited the Taj Mahal days later, however, the pair stood side by side with their hands folded in front of them. This is because the Indian landmark is a more formal setting.

Element 7

That's a lot of rules to remember. Harry definitely got off easy on this one—not to mention all the kisses.

RELATED: Save the Date for Kate Middleton's Baby Bump Debut

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29 PHOTOS
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry together at the Invictus Games
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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry together at the Invictus Games
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are seen on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are seen on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are seen on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are seen on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are seen on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are seen on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are seen on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are seen on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30: Meghan Markle (R) is seen on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30: Meghan Markle (R) is seen on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are seen on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are seen on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30: Meghan Markle (R) is seen on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are seen at the Closing Ceremony on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 at the Air Canada Centre on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are seen at the Closing Ceremony on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 at the Air Canada Centre on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30: Doria Radlan and Meghan Markle are seen at the Closing Ceremony on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 at the Air Canada Centre on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30: Meghan Markle and Doria Radlan attend the Closing Ceremony on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPT. 25: Prince Harry and girlfriend Meghan Markle hold hands as they arrive at the tennis event at the Invictus Games at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto on Monday September 25, 2017. (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 25: Prince Harry (R) and Meghan Markle (L) attend a Wheelchair Tennis match during the Invictus Games 2017 at Nathan Philips Square on September 25, 2017 in Toronto, Canada (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation )
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 25: Prince Harry (R) and Meghan Markle (L) attend a Wheelchair Tennis match during the Invictus Games 2017 at Nathan Philips Square on September 25, 2017 in Toronto, Canada (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation )
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 25: Prince Harry (R) and Meghan Markle (L) attend a Wheelchair Tennis match during the Invictus Games 2017 at Nathan Philips Square on September 25, 2017 in Toronto, Canada (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation )
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 25: Prince Harry (R) and Meghan Markle (L) attend a Wheelchair Tennis match during the Invictus Games 2017 at Nathan Philips Square on September 25, 2017 in Toronto, Canada (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation )
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 25: Prince Harry (R) and Meghan Markle (L) attend a Wheelchair Tennis match during the Invictus Games 2017 at Nathan Philips Square on September 25, 2017 in Toronto, Canada (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation )
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 25: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend a Wheelchair Tennis match during the Invictus Games 2017 at Nathan Philips Square on September 25, 2017 in Toronto, Canada (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation )
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 25: Prince Harry (R) and Meghan Markle (L) attend a Wheelchair Tennis match during the Invictus Games 2017 at Nathan Philips Square on September 25, 2017 in Toronto, Canada (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation )
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 25: Prince Harry (C) and Meghan Markle (L) attend a Wheelchair Tennis match during the Invictus Games 2017 at Nathan Philips Square on September 25, 2017 in Toronto, Canada (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation )
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 25: Prince Harry (R) and Meghan Markle attend a Wheelchair Tennis match during the Invictus Games 2017 at Nathan Philips Square on September 25, 2017 in Toronto, Canada (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation )
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 25: Prince Harry (R) and Meghan Markle (L) attend a Wheelchair Tennis match during the Invictus Games 2017 at Nathan Philips Square on September 25, 2017 in Toronto, Canada (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation )
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