The Deeper Significance Behind Prince Harry’s Decision to Wear a Wedding Ring

Elise Taylor
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The Deeper Significance Behind Prince Harry’s Decision to Wear a Wedding Ring

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will both wear a wedding ring—which is actually a bit unusual for the royal family.

Mere days after their grand wedding at Windsor Castle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped out in public for the first time for a garden party at Buckingham Palace. On display? Their wedding bands—the duchess’s, made of Welsh gold, the Duke’s of platinum.

Their is an unusual pronoun in this instance. Because, for the royals, it is often just about her wedding ring.

While Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, and Queen Elizabeth wear wedding rings, their husbands, Prince William and Prince Philip, do not. Prince Charles wears one, but on his pinky finger, tucked behind his signet ring.

Back in 2011, the palace said the choice to wear a wedding ring is a “personal preference.” And perhaps there’s nothing else to it. But it’s worth noting the “no” option has roots in the traditions of a certain social strata: “It is code, like so many of these things . . . there is a group of upper-class people who think the less of that stuff you wear the better, less bling,” Peter York, coauthor of The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook, told The Telegraph. A 1996 version of Debrett’s New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners, the definitive English upper crust etiquette book, stated, “It is customary for the bride alone to sport a wedding ring, and although some brides have adopted the Continental habit of presenting the groom with his own band during the vows, this remains not quite comme il faut.”

So what does it mean that Harry has bucked the trend of his blue-blooded brethren?

“I think it shows, as if proof were needed, that Harry is the least conventional member of the Royal Family,” Penny Junor, author of The Duchess, tells Vogue. “Harry’s chosen to do what most married men do today. I like it.”

She’s right. Prince Harry and Meghan are certainly doing things their way—which is, often, a modern approach. Sometimes it’s small: like choosing lemon elderflower as their wedding cake, instead of the traditional fruitcake. Sometimes it’s larger: Harry eschewing the “stiff upper lip” mentality by opening up about his struggles with mental health, or Meghan Markle speaking out in support of the #MeToo movement.

Beyond a piece of jewelry, or even a confirmation of commitment, this wedding ring is another way of showing that Harry and Meghan won’t necessarily abide by the royal rulebook of generations past.

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The Must-See Moments From the Royal Wedding

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Prince Harry and Prince William

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Queen Elizabeth in Stewart Parvin

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Doria Ragland in Oscar de la Renta

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Meghan Markle in Givenchy and Cartier jewelry

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Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip

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Catherine Duchess of Cambridge and Jessica Mulrone in Di Carlo Couture

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Kate Middleton in Alexander McQueen

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Marcus Mumford and Carey Mulligan in Erdem

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Princess Eugenie of York

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Amal Clooney in custom Stella McCartney, Lorraine Schwartz jewelry and Gianvito Rossi shoes and George Clooney in Giorgio Armani

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Charlotte Riley and Tom Hardy

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Prince Charles of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall Camilla

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Serena Williams in Versace and Alexis Ohanian

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Peter Phillips and Autumn Phillips

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Sarah Duchess of York

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David Henson and Hayley Henson

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Sarah Rafferty and Santtu Seppala

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Former British Prime Minister John Major and Norma

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James Corden and Julia Carey

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Princess Anne

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David Beckham in Dior Homme and Victoria Beckham

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Sophie Countess of Wessex in Suzannah

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Prince and Princess Michael of Kent

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Prince and William and private secretary Miguel Head

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Pippa Middleton and James Matthews

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Oprah in Stella McCartney with a Gabriela Hearst bag

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Patrick J Adams and Troian Bellisario

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David Furnish and Sir Elton John

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Carol Middleton and Michael Francis

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Princess Beatrice

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Sir Clive Woodward and Jayne Williams

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Abigail Spencer and Priyanka Chopra in Vivienne Westwood, Philip Treacy hat, Jimmy Choo by Off White shoes and Lorraine Schwartz jewelry

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Gabriel Macht and Jacinda Barrett

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Gina Torres

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Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre

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Tom Inskip

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Jonny Wilkinson and Shelley Jenkins

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Caroline Greenwood and Will Greenwood

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Rebecca Deacon and Gibraltarian Adam Priestley

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Clive Woodward and Jayne Williams

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Nacho Figueras and Delfina Blaquier in Àcheval Pampa

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Joss Stone

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Elizabeth Spencer, Louis Spencer, Victoria Aitken and Kitty Spencer

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Tom Parker Bowles

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Lady Edwina Louise Grosvenor and Dan Snow

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James Haskell and Chloe Madeley

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Cressida Bonas in Eponine

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Earl Spencer and Karen Spencer in Pamella Roland

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Chelsea Davy

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Sofia Wellesley and James Blunt

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Mike Tindall and Zara Tindall

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Watch Hamish Bowles on the Dos and Don’ts of Royal Wedding Etiquette:

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