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One debate among some royal watchers is whether the royal family is affectionate. In the Harry & Meghan Netflix docuseries, Meghan Markle implies the royals aren’t warm. She gives an example when she talks about her first meeting with Kate Middleton and Prince William.

According to Meghan, Kate and William are not “huggers” like she is. Former royal butler Paul Burrell backs up what Meghan said, claiming the royals “don’t hug.” Here’s what he had to say about the royal family and how they interact.

Meghan Markle says the royal family has a ‘formality’ that ‘carries over on both sides’

Charles, Camilla, and Kate pose for a photo during a royal engagement.
King Charles, Queen Camilla, and Kate Middleton Princess of Wales | Karwai Tang/WireImage

During Harry & Meghan episode 2, Meghan recounts her first meeting with Kate and William. She seemed bothered by what she implies is a lack of warmth.

“Even when Will and Kate came over and I had met her for the first time. They came over for dinner,” says Meghan during the docuseries. “I remember I was in ripped jeans, and I was barefoot. Like, I was a hugger. I’ve always been a hugger. I didn’t realize that is jarring for a lot of Brits.”

Meghan continues, “I guess I started to understand very quickly that the formality on the outside carried through on the inside. That there is a forward-facing way of being. That formality carries over on both sides. And that was surprising to me.”

Meghan says she can look back on that meeting now and find the humor in it. She is happy she didn’t know much about the royal family before meeting them.

“It’s so funny if I look back at it now, because now I know so much, and I’m so glad I didn’t then,” she says. “Because I could just authentically be myself without so much preparedness.”

Former royal butler Paul Burrell says the royals aren’t ‘huggers’

Burrell tells host Lorraine Kelly he understands Prince Harry’s complaint about King Charles not hugging him after his mother died. According to Burrell, King Charles (and royal family members) don’t show physical affection.

When [Harry] talks about his father touching his knee at Balmoral and not hugging him, I understand that because Charles isn’t a hugger,” says Burrell. “And the royals don’t hug.”

Burrell says Charles didn’t really comfort him either after the death of Princess Diana. The former butler says the royal family isn’t “good” at offering comfort.

“I remember when Charles came to Paris,” says Burrell. “He came to see Diana’s body. And he touched my lapel and said, ‘Are you all right old thing?’ And that was all the comfort I got. They’re not good at giving comfort. That’s what Harry is trying to tell you. They’re not like us; they’re very different. So, I understand what Harry is going through.”

Angela Levin says Kate Middleton is trying to prove Meghan Markle wrong


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During GB News host Nana Akua’s broadcast, she points out how Kate hugged her former history teacher during a royal engagement. Akua says it’s possible Kate just didn’t want to hug Meghan and that’s why their first meeting was so awkward. “Perhaps she just didn’t want to hug you,” says Akua.

Biographer Angela Levin believes Kate is trying to prove Meghan wrong by hugging as many people as she can during public events. “I actually wondered whether she was doing it to show that she could,” Leven tells GB News. “Because I think it’s slightly unusual for you to really hug your former history teacher. I never hugged any of my teachers, however nice they were. She also hugged a young woman who had been on a polar expedition. And she gave her a huge hug, too. They were real monster hugs.”

Akua thinks Kate might have been trying to send a message to Meghan. Says Akua, “She might be rubbing salt into the wound.”

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