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Did Meghan Markle break royal protocol with baby shower? Here's what an expert says

While Brits normally don't throw baby showers, the one thrown for the very American Duchess of Sussex was in keeping with U.S. tradition.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, in Manhattan
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, had a lavish celebration in the Big Apple for the newest royal baby!Gotham / GC Images
/ Source: TODAY

She's back in London now, but the reason Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, traveled to New York centers around a tradition far more traditional in America than in her newly adopted home.

“Customarily, the Brits don't do baby showers. It's not something that is traditional over here,” royal commentator Victoria Arbiter told TODAY. “We tend to give gifts after the baby is born.”

The former Meghan Markle made an unannounced visit to New York this week that culminated in a baby shower Wednesday with a star-studded guest list rivaling the one from her May 19 wedding. The trip to the Big Apple is believed to be Meghan’s first back to the States since she tied the knot last year and became a member of British royal family.

Her status as a royal raised questions about whether the mom-to-be should be fêted in such grand fashion. The baby shower was held at the swanky Mark Hotel penthouse suite, which is described on its website as "a castle in the sky." While Meghan's friends probably footed the bill for the shower, she still had to pay for her jet rides to and from New York, with each way reportedly costing $100,000. Kensington Palace said transportation was "privately funded."

Some have questioned whether protocol was broken by Meghan's shower, but Arbiter dismissed any such notion.

“Protocol only refers to etiquette and behavior at diplomatic events and state occasions. Protocol refers to, who walks in a room first? Who sits next to whom? Who makes the first speech?” she said.

Amal Clooney arrives for Meghan Markle's baby shower.
Amal Clooney arrives Wednesday at New York's Mark Hotel for the royal baby shower.Raymond Hall / GC Images

When Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, was pregnant with her first child, rumors circulated that her sister, the former Pippa Middleton, had thrown her a baby shower but nothing was ever confirmed.

That's because Catherine, the future queen consort, has a very different standing than Meghan, whose husband, Prince Harry, is sixth in line to the throne.

Anything like a baby shower for someone like Catherine would normally be kept “incredibly private,” Arbiter said. The royals “are funded by the taxpayer and so they have to take public perception into account.”

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - February 20, 2019
One of the baby gifts brought by Amal Clooney.Raymond Hall / GC Images

Rules are different for the Duchess of Sussex, however.

"Meghan coming home for a baby shower — it's absolutely in keeping with who Meghan is. She's doing it in America, where it is traditional, and she's doing it with her group of very loyal girlfriends," Arbiter said.

"Kate, I would imagine, welcomed lots of friends as soon as the baby was born and they all would have come bearing gifts. She just would have done it the other way around. There's no right or wrong to either. It's just different."

Arbiter also noted that Meghan would never have flown to New York if she didn't first receive the blessing of her in-laws.

“There is nothing that stipulates she couldn't have a baby shower, and frankly, Harry, and the rest of the royal family would be very happy for her to honor her American traditions and customs,” Arbiter said. “She wouldn't be in the States having a shower if it was frowned upon.”