Constantly surrounded by pomp and circumstance, Prince William decided to push all the ceremony aside and comfort a grieving woman who was still looking for her husband after London's Grenfell Tower fire. Entertainment Weekly reports that "members of the public are only allowed to shake hands with the royals," which means the hug that he offered the woman completely broke royal etiquette.
Last Friday, Prince William and Queen Elizabeth visited the site of the fire, which took place on June 13 and claimed 79 lives. During his time at the event, a photographer captured a moment between William and the still-unnamed woman with his arms around her and her face buried in his chest. It's a powerful image that shows just how devastating the fire was. According to Entertainment Weekly, search and rescue teams are still working around the clock to help recover bodies and find out more about the fire itself.
While it may seem like no big deal that William embraced the grieving woman, The Atlantic reports that the no-touching-allowed rule dates all the way back to the Middle Ages. According to British historian Kate Williams, in earlier times, it was believed that "monarchs were divinely appointed to rule by God, so they were kind of seen as gods, so they demanded to be treated as gods." In other words: hands off.
Things have gotten a bit more casual since then. The official monarchy website even states that "there are no obligatory codes of behaviour when meeting The Queen or a member of the Royal Family." That might make things a little more confusing — or casual, depending on how people look at things like rules and royal tradition. In this case, Prince William was doing his best to console someone, so tradition was probably the last thing on his mind.