Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are both gearing up for their wedding on Saturday, May 19, 2018, and there are still plenty of things to be done before they can become officially man and wife. For a start, royal protocol dictates that the bride-to-be will have to become a British citizen and be baptized into the Church of England. But while it may seem as if it’s Markle who’s making all the compromises, rumor has it that the American actress has asked Harry to make a big sacrifice for her, too.
Indeed, while it may be the childhood dream of many girls to be whisked away by a handsome prince, they may not realize what happens after that in real life. After all, while the British royal family may wield enviable wealth and power, they are still bound by multiple laws and – albeit self-imposed – conventions. Markle has already had to give up all the social media accounts she established in her acting days, for instance, as individual royals just don’t do Facebook.
And the prospective Mrs Windsor has had to make several other adjustments, too, as there’s apparently strict rules about what she can wear in public. Markle can’t now wear colorful nail polish, for example, as the Queen reportedly does not approve; neither can she sport ripped jeans of the sort that she was seen wearing when she and the prince were just dating.
So it is perhaps only fair that Harry should have to give something up for Markle as well. And the demand she has reportedly made of him was simple – he had to stop smoking. That may seem like a perfectly reasonable request, considering the dangers surrounding the addiction. But the royal family’s history with the habit is a complicated one. And, as a royal newbie, even Markle may not know the whole story.
Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI, was a very heavy smoker, for one, which may have led to him being diagnosed with lung cancer in 1951. Then, the following year, the monarch was dead of a coronary thrombosis. And after seeing this fate befall her beloved father, Elizabeth never picked up a cigarette.
However, Princess Margaret, the Queen’s sister, also suffered from a heavy addiction to nicotine. Indeed, she went in the opposite direction to her sibling after their dad died and actually began smoking even more. Reportedly, there were even times in her life when she would go through up to 60 cigarettes a day. And, sadly, she ended up suffering a similar end to her father’s. Margaret also needed a lung operation, in 1985, thanks to the damage smoking had done; she would pass away in 2002 from a stroke.
Furthermore, Prince Philip also enjoyed tobacco as a young man. Shortly before he and the Queen wed, however, his fiancée asked him to give it up. And while it reportedly took him until the morning before their marriage ceremony in 1947, that was the day he was said to have smoked his last cigarette – and he’s seemingly never looked back since.
Prince Charles, on the other hand, has apparently taken a similar anti-smoking approach to his mother; it was thanks to Charles that the royal family dropped its endorsement of the tobacco company Gallaher, for example. But, unfortunately, his own sons, William and Harry, could not resist the temptations of the evil weed.
Yet while Prince William subsequently gave the habit up, it appears as if his brother couldn’t do the same. Reportedly, Harry hasn’t managed to quit smoking since he began as a 15-year-old at Eton College. And while the prince has rarely been seen lighting up in public, every now and again dedicated members of the paparazzi have managed to snap him smoking away in private.
The U.K. tabloid press would often publish these clandestine photos, too, as they helped portray Harry as the “bad boy” of the royals. Indeed, the media has seemingly eaten up every scandal that has surrounded the prince – and there have been a few. But every so often a story has emerged that indicated that Harry, like others in his family, has suffered from genuine addiction issues.
What’s more, in 2001 Harry was caught smoking something considerably more illegal than tobacco: namely, cannabis. Charles acted swiftly to nip this in the bud, however. To wit, the Prince of Wales dispatched his son to a drug detox center in order to scare him straight. And the tactic seemed to work; at the very least, there were no further drug-related scandals for the young royal after that.
Then when Harry joined the army in 2006, it seemed as if his “party prince” days were finally coming to an end. Nonetheless, he still continued to smoke, despite attempts to quit every now and again. “He made out he was a non-smoker then started cadging cigs,” one of his fellow soldiers informed The Mirror in 2008, adding, “He still owes us a few.”
In 2015, meanwhile, a website dedicated to TV comedy show Dish Nation spoke to an anonymous insider about Harry’s habit. “He was photographed smoking a cigarette recently, but he just doesn’t care,” the source said. “He feels that his ‘ciggies’ are a small pleasure he enjoys and are no major problem. But while the Queen feels that he should quit for his health, Harry is standing firm that the smoking will stay.”
Still, the insider went on to divulge one intriguing piece of information. Specifically, they revealed, “[Harry] does say that should his wife want him to stop smoking, he would. And, obviously, he would never smoke around his children in the future.” And that tidbit would become pertinent just a couple of years later, when Harry announced his intention to make Meghan Markle his wife.
Indeed, in November 2017 an unnamed “pal” of Harry’s spoke to the Daily Mail about the big change his friend would be making for his marriage. “Harry has promised no smoking at all at home. It’s not nice for Meghan as a non-smoker,” they stated. “So there’s no more hanging out of the window for a quick puff. Harry has quit for Meghan.”
And Harry may have needed to hang out of the window for a puff, as smoking was banned in most royal residences in November 2017. Ironically, Prince Charles’ official home, Clarence House, was the only exception to this royal decree. But this was irrelevant, as the heir to the throne had declared it a smoke-free zone years ago.
In their ban, however, the royal family had actually been somewhat behind the rest of the U.K. That’s because Britain had made smoking in enclosed public places illegal everywhere else by 2007, and so this had been in place for almost a decade when the royal residences eventually followed suit.
It’s fair to say, then, that the societal push-back against smoking has come a long way. During King George VI’s reign, for example, lighting up a cigarette was seen as an elegant thing to do. And Queen Elizabeth’s father, sister and husband-to-be were by no means the only ones who indulged at that time; many around the monarch smoked, including millions of her subjects. These days, though, we all know the serious health risks.
And, happily, smoking is less prevalent in the U.K. than it once was. In 2016 the number of English smokers fell to its lowest recorded level, for instance, with a Public Health England survey concluding that only one in six of the country’s adults indulged in the habit. Remarkably, more than 500,000 citizens had ceased smoking in the previous year.
But sometimes it is not a campaign a smoker needs to help quit, but the concern of a loved one – such as an adoring fiancée. All things considered, then, Markle may have done Harry a huge favor by promising to say “I do” if he pledges in turn to say “I don’t.”