kate middleton and meghan markle perform a hongi greeting

Why Meghan Markle might be needing tips from Kate Middleton before New Zealand royal tour

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are embarking on their first long-haul royal tour next month

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The Duchess of Sussex is about to embark on her first royal tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga, but before she sets off, Meghan may want to ask for some last-minute pointers from her sister-in-law Kate. The former actress had the chance to practise a traditional Maori greeting on Tuesday night as she attended an exhibition on Oceania – pressing her nose against other guests' noses in what is known as a 'hongi'.

But as some fans noticed, Meghan kept her eyes wide open as she took part in the symbolic greeting. Traditionally, the eyes should be lowered or closed. The greeting is used among New Zealand's Maori people and serves a similar purpose to a handshake. Through the greeting, a visitor is no longer considered a visitor but one of the people of the land.

Meghan kept her eyes open during the greeting

When Kate visited New Zealand on her and William's official tour in 2014, she performed a hongi a handful of times, including when she met Maori elders in Christchurch, Wellington and Dunedin. The Duchess shared a particularly sweet moment with five-year-old Mataawhio Matahaere Vieint, crouching down and closing her eyes as she rubbed noses with the little girl.

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Kate performs a hongi during her tour in 2014

Meghan debuted her hongi on Tuesday during a visit to the Oceania exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. Stunning in a black Givenchy dress, she greeted members of Ngati Ranana, a London-based Maori cultural group. Meghan was shown artwork by four New Zealand women; artist Sarah Hudson, who welcomed her in the traditional way, later said: "We thought it might be a nice bit of practice before she comes to the Pacific next month and it's nice to be able to practice something that's customary for us. She's honouring our heritage and it's so humbling."

Meghan attends the Oceania exhibition ahead of her royal tour:

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Meghan was carrying out her first solo engagement. She and Prince Harry are due to tour Australia, Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand next month. The tour will kick off on Tuesday 16 October, just four days after Princess Eugenie's royal wedding in Windsor.

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