In addition to their titles as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were also widely viewed to be the holders of another unofficial title: most affectionate royal couple! However, Harry’s cousin Zara and her husband Mike Tindall recently proved that they are also not afraid of a little PDA.
While walking around the fairgrounds at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park on Sunday afternoon, Zara and Mike were seen sharing a sweet kiss on the lips as Queen Elizabeth‘s granddaughter held onto her husband’s butt.
Mike was later seen returning the gesture of affection, as the pair — who welcomed their youngest daughter, Lena Elizabeth, in June — continued to stroll around the event.
Their PDA continued just days later, when the parents couldn’t stop smiling and keeping each other close at the Isle of Wight’s annual Cowes Week Regatta.
Royal etiquette expert Myka Meier, founder and director of Beaumont Etiquette, tells PEOPLE that there are no formal rules on royal couples being lovey-dovey in public — it’s at their own discretion.
“Senior members of the royal family would likely not be told how to interact or when they can or can not show PDA and would be trusted to use their better judgement as to when it’s appropriate,” she explains. “The royals often adjust PDA to mirror the formality of the event they are attending. At a somber or more formal event, we are less likely to see PDA than at a casual event where it would be deemed more fitting.”
She adds, “It’s also important to note that when attending official events on behalf of the royal family, royals are taking on professional roles, versus being on their own private time, which the recent photos of Mike and Zara Tindall not on official royal duty would be an example of.”
As soon as Prince Harry and Meghan went public with their romance last year, it was clear that they were not afraid to show PDA. And those displays of affection have continued since Meghan became an official royal at their wedding in May.
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“They are not afraid to hold hands. They don’t mind showing their emotions,” veteran royal photographer, Mark Stewart, recently told PEOPLE.
Since they made their very first appearance together at the Invictus Games in Sept. 2017, the royal couple has held hands, rubbed each other’s backs and linked arms in public — they even snuck their signature move into Prince Louis‘ official christening portraits and shared a kiss on the lips at Harry’s charity polo match this summer.
The couple’s closeness was on display during Meghan’s very first royal outing with her then-fiancé during December’s visit to Nottingham. They walked around holding hands and with their arms around each other as they greeted enthusiastic fans in the town center.
“While Prince Harry and Meghan holding hands is atypical for royal engagements, it is a seemingly welcomed gesture to show unity and celebration of their engagement period,” Meier told PEOPLE at the time. “There is no protocol that says they can not show affection on official engagements, and this gesture makes them relatable and lovable to the public.”
She continued, “Meghan and Prince Harry holding hands at a royal engagement is a refreshingly modern approach to their new role both as a couple and as representatives of the royal family.”
Harry and Meghan‘s open affection is indeed a departure from usual royal behavior. A certain decorum tends to be the norm when it comes to official royal outings. Prince William and Kate Middleton, for example, rarely show PDA.
“It is rare to see royal couples holding hands on official outings,” Myka shared. “While we are much less likely to see The Duke and Duchess holding hands in public, we often see Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall holding hands – it’s all simply a matter of preference for each couple and is also likely dependent on the nature of the event they are attending. A more serious engagement would warrant a more serious level of professionalism, which each royal is sure to follow.”
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Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip never show affection in public either. Despite their closeness (70 years of royal marriage!), they are never seen holding hands in public due to the “stoic values” of their generation, royal biographer Gyles Brandreth told PEOPLE.
Harry and Meghan follow suit, respectfully refraining from holding hands around the prince’s grandmother.
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