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Royals

Why Meghan Markle Stood Behind Kate Middleton for Her Balcony Debut: 'There's a Pecking Order'

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When Meghan Markle made her official Trooping the Colour debut last Saturday, she wasn’t front and center on the palace balcony.

The new Duchess of Sussex notably stood behind her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, and brother-in-law, Prince William — and it all came down to a royal “pecking order.”

“She was not as prominent perhaps as some people might have expected, but there’s a pecking order,” Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, tells PEOPLE. “There was no slight intended, but William being the older, more senior brother would go out [first] with his wife.”

Frank Augstein/AP/REX/Shutterstock

During Kate’s Trooping the Color debut in 2011, she stood in the front, but to the far left of the balcony.

“[Meghan] was still in a good position,” adds Little. “She was central rather than the alternative of being in the front row and along the balcony to the left or right.”

A palace source says Meghan’s balcony position “would have come from her. There’s no one laying this out, telling her where to stand. And there were a lot of kids who everyone would want at the front.”

James Whatling/MEGA

During the annual celebration, which honors Queen Elizabeth’s birthday, the newest royal arrived to Buckingham Palace alongside her husband, Prince Harry. The couple recently returned from their honeymoon after tying the knot on May 19.

RELATED VIDEO: Commercial Flights, Color-Coded Luggage & More: Here’s How to Travel Like Your Favorite Royals

The Duchess of Sussex opted for a pale pink off-the-shoulder dress by Carolina Herrera with a matching hat by Philip Treacy. She also wore pink for her very first royal outing on May 22, as well as an almost identical hat.

For more on Meghan Markle’s big balcony debut, check out this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

The day started with a grand military parade and the arrivals of the royals via carriages. Meghan and Harry shared a carriage ride (her second!), while the Queen arrived on her own.

Mike Marsland/WireImage

In addition to the Queen, Prince William and Kate Middleton, and their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte (Prince Louis stayed home during the festivities!). Prince PhilipPrince Charles, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall were also in attendance.

Once everyone arrived, the family gathered together on the balcony to observe the iconic fly-past by the Royal Air Force.

Frank Augstein/AP/Shutterstock

And Meghan was all smiles as she took in the historic annual event.

“She was still near the heart of the action,” Little says.

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