If asked to describe your most awkward moment, it probably wouldn’t take you long to come up with a response — though, you may be reluctant to share. We hear that. The truth is: life is really just a series of awkward moments strung together with some good and not-so-good experiences. Luckily, most of us have the privilege of embarrassing ourselves in front of just a few people. But for those in the public eye, an awkward moment can be captured by millions. Even the British royal family — who are arguably the epitome of grace and class and poise — are not exempt from experiencing an awkward moment or two, or three, or — ahem — you get the point. Even the Queen of England has had her share of embarrassing experiences.
It isn’t surprising, then, that all eyes have been on Meghan Markle. As a former commoner who’s newly learning the ropes in front of the whole world — and, you know, a human being — she’s already had quite a few moments that the masses deem "awkward." Here’s just a few.
The award mixup
During Meghan’s engagement to Prince Harry, the soon-to-be royal was tasked with presenting awards at the Endeavour Fund ceremony. The organization, founded by Prince Harry in 2012, provides support for sick, wounded, and injured members of the military. Each year, outstanding servicemen and women are recognized with awards. Although this event usually goes off without a hitch, the 2018 ceremony experienced a few hiccups.
While on stage with a co-presenter, there appeared to be a mixup with the notes. Following a long and awkward silence, Meghan’s co-presenter revealed, "Excuse me — we’ve got different notes." Although her stage partner was becoming visibly flustered, Meghan swooped in and tried to help. "I’ve got mine, hang on," she said of her notes. Meghan deflected some of the tension with a few laughs, encouraging the audience to do the same. Despite the initial confusion, the presenters got it together within a few minutes and, thankfully, the ceremony didn’t end up like the 2017 Oscars.
A giggle fit in church
About a month after the surviving the discomfort during the Endeavour Fund ceremony, Meghan made headlines again for another awkward moment. In March 2018, at the Commonwealth Day service in Westminster Abbey, One Direction singer Liam Payne took the stage. The artist performed the John Mayer hit "Waiting on the World to Change." As a video shared to Twitter shows, Payne nodded to the audience and fist-bumped each of his guitarists after the conclusion of the song. While many of those in attendance could be heard applauding, Meghan and Harry were captured on camera sharing a knowing glance. Harry can be seen raising his eyebrows to Meghan before she erupts in laughter and bows her head.
Did they dislike the performance? Did they think the fist-bumping was a bit much? It’s impossible to say. Nevertheless, the two were literally caught giggling in church and, sure, it may have been an awkward moment, but it was a pretty funny one, too.
One month into being the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan was faced with a protocol conundrum. Leading Britain’s Conversation shared a video of the "charming moment" to Twitter and a conversation did indeed follow. In the clip, Meghan can be seen walking behind the queen. A security member directs Meghan to enter the backseat of a vehicle that is awaiting them, but Meghan hesitates. She asks her grandmother-in-law: "What is your preference?" After which, the queen responded, "You go first."
Should Meghan have waited for the Queen to enter the vehicle? "Even if she wasn’t the queen it’s generally good manners to let an elderly person sit down first," one person tweeted in response to the video.
However, etiquette coach William Hanson revealed to Elle, saying, "The Queen always sits behind the driver" — which is more of a "habit" and "not protocol." This is unique to the queen because "the most important person" is supposed to sit diagonal to the driver. That’s a lot for a new duchess to remember, so can you really fault her for this awkward exchange?
A (nearly) great fall
Just days after her first solo trip with the queen — and yes, the car confusion — Meghan, along with her hubby, attended Harry’s cousin’s wedding. For the event, the duchess chose a flowing long-sleeve wrap dress by Oscar de la Renta paired with a simple fascinator and white heels. Now, if you’ve ever walked on a grassy area while wearing heels, you know that you’re really tempting fate. But, as a royal woman, there’s really no such thing as not wearing heels to formal events. Even wedges, which would provide more stability, are out of the question. Of course, this pretty much guarantees the occasional, literal misstep.
As a video shows, Meghan slips on the grass while walking through the church grounds alongside her husband. Fortunately, she was holding Harry’s hand at the time and was able to avoid a full-on fall — along with the grass stains that would surely follow.
The wardrobe malfunction
Meghan has always been one to purposefully challenge the strict royal dress code — and, really, why shouldn’t she? — but she has also done so accidentally. While attending the wedding of Harry’s close friend in August 2018 — on her birthday, no less — Meghan suffered what we can now only refer to as a "wardrobe malfunction." According to Entertainment Tonight, the topmost button of Meghan’s dress came undone and revealed a black lace bra. As a recent inductee of an über conservative family — you know, the royal family — it was likely pretty awkward for the duchess.
What is perhaps more embarrassing, however, is how many reacted to the gaffe. "Meghan stepped out in dark-color like someone attending a funeral, and did she deliberately flaunt her bra for the camera?" one person tweeted. "Love fashion, but did not like the near exposure of Meghan Markle’s ‘birthday suit," added another (via Yahoo Entertainment). Eek. Sorry, Megs!
When the video of Harry and Meghan at the Young Leaders Reception started making its rounds on Twitter, you probably couldn’t help but cringe. In the snippet, Meghan appears to hold Harry’s hand while Harry not-so-slyly moves his hands away, clasping them together instead. Did Harry really fend off his wife’s hands? According to one expert, there might be more to the story.
"I don’t think Prince Harry knows what to do with himself since he couldn’t or wouldn’t hold Meghan’s hand," body language expert Blanca Cobb told Cosmopolitan. Since PDAs in the presence of the Queen are more-or-less taboo, this could certainly be the case. "[Meghan’s] arm and hand don’t swing naturally," Cobb further explained. "It’s as if she’s keeping it within Harry’s reach for when the moment presents itself that they can hold hands." While the moment is awkward and yes, it does seem like a diss, Harry was likely just trying to do the "right" thing in front of Grandma.
An overly-affectionate back rub?
When it comes to PDAs, there’s a load of opinions. As a public figure, especially as a member of British royalty, Meghan’s public displays of affection have been analyzed thoroughly. Should she and her husband hold hands? Should they not hold hands? Should locking lips be allowed? Should they "get a room"? Even back rubs have been called into question. In October 2018, Cosmopolitan reported on "an awkward PDA moment" between the prince and duchess. While the publication declared the touch "too much," royal reporter Rebecca English, who shared a clip of the exchange on Twitter, dubbed it "an affectionate rub."
Others shared Cosmo‘s take. "Not ‘affectionate’ at all but rather a constant reminder he should know she is around and ‘deserves’ his full attention," one person tweeted in response. "Very embarrassing coming from a 40-year-old woman." Ouch. Although there’s perhaps no denying that this exchange came off as awkward, the extent of the awkwardness is up for debate.
A snub of royal proportions
After a video of the royal family surfaced on Instagram, viewers began to suspect some tension between Prince William and Meghan. While the duchess appeared to be talking to her brother-in-law, he, as Cosmopolitan reported, "seemingly ignored her to spend approximately one million years adjusting his scarf." The moment certainly looked hella awkward, but we don’t know all what occurred in this seconds-long exchange.
Body language expert Judi James gave Cosmopolitan her expert opinion of the exchange. Although she said William’s "distancing could be caused by tensions," it could be something entirely different. "After the tragic dramas of his parent’s marriage, William has always appeared keen to avoid any public emotional displays that might draw too much ongoing attention from the press and it could easily be this, rather than Meghan herself, that he’s keen to avoid."
Alternatively, Meghan may not have even been talking to William. The expert revealed that "she could have been smiling at Kate rather than William, meaning he might genuinely have been out of the conversational loop at that particular point."
Being dubbed "a fat lady"
So, imagine you’re about seven months pregnant. Now imagine being called "a fat lady." Oh, boy. In a truly cringey moment, this is what happened to Meghan Markle. While meeting with volunteers, beneficiaries, and staff members at Mayhew, an animal welfare charity Meghan supports, a woman presented Meghan with the, um, compliment? An elderly Jamaican-born woman named Peggy McEachrom told Meghan, "What a lovely lady you are. May God bless you." The woman, addressing Meghan’s baby bump, continued, "And you’re a fat lady!" Without skipping a beat, Meghan laughed off the awkward encounter. She kindly responded, saying, "I’ll take it!"
Although this term is not exactly thought of as a compliment in the U.K., nor in the states, it was a harmless expression according to one twitter user. "I am a Jamaican. This is a Jamaican lady. This is how we Jamaican[s] say, ‘You are very pregnant," the person tweeted (via SheKnows).