Beyoncé, Queen of America, conducted her first diplomatic relations with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, over the weekend at the London premiere of The Lion King, and for a brief, shining moment, we could put all that is wrong with the two nations they represent out of mind. It was certainly a more joyous moment than, say, the Trump family’s recent trip to London. Yet a certain segment of the press, relying as ever on nefarious “anonymous sources,” couldn’t let the moment pass without injecting a little bit of controversy into the otherwise fairy-tale moment.
You see (sigh), there’s chatter that Beyoncé broke that old, amorphous notion of “royal protocol” during the premiere. According to sources who spoke to Entertainment Tonight, royal security had expected Meghan and Prince Harry to walk the carpet last, and had to clear the carpet for them to do so.
Of course, anyone familiar with Beyoncé Protocol knows that typically Queen Bey likes to be the last up the red carpet, and that’s exactly what happened over the weekend. She was accompanied by husband Jay Z as she did so.
The ET source also says that Beyoncé and Jay “completely upstaged” the royal couple, at least by the metric of crowd excitement. Which shouldn’t be a surprise. Beyoncé does star in the movie in question, and unlike the Sussexes, it’s not like she’s in London all that often. She’s also, you know, Beyoncé.
Any rumors of drama must be stemming from the handlers and security backstage, though, as Beyoncé and Meghan seemed completely overjoyed to meet each other, with Bey reportedly even telling Meghan that her newborn son, Master Archie, was beautiful. Even if there were a few flummoxed security guards hanging around, it’s odd that anyone would possibly care about who went in what order. Everyone got out of the event unharmed and alive, after all.
Still, accusations of breaking “royal protocol” and “tradition” have haunted Meghan ever since she went public with her relationship with Harry. But, as we’ve explained, there’s no ancient guide written by quill in some centuries-old bound book outlining every single thing a royal family member and anyone who shares space with them is expected to do. And hard and fast rules should not pertain to Meghan and Harry, who are not directly in line for the throne. So a lot of reports of Meghan (and now Beyoncé) breaking protocol seem to play fast and loose with the idea in the first place.
We’re sure that some of those reports of Markle’s breaking of protocol are greeted by fans with a bit of enthusiasm about her shaking up of the dusty British monarchy. We can’t help but think that critics, however, are just eager to “tut-tut” the first woman of color to join the royal family. It can come across like these “anonymous sources,” and the various British tabloids that use them, are chiding her for not belonging by pointing out her supposed missteps, and now they’re doing the same to another powerful black woman.
Can’t we just enjoy the moment?
Besides, does royal protocol even count when it’s happening at an event held by an institution even more globally powerful: Disney? If Mickey Mouse says Beyoncé gets to walk last at the Lion King premiere, then Beyoncé gets to walk last. If Queen Elizabeth II has a problem with it, she can take it up with him personally.