Based on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s tell-all interview, it’s clear that being part of the British royal family isn’t all tiaras and travel. There are some pretty stringent—and strange—etiquette guidelines and traditions that the Windsors adhere to. For example, did you know that members of the fam couldn’t eat garlic in the presence of the queen? Here, 26 of the most bonkers rules that the royal family must follow.
26 of the Most Ridiculously Strict Rules the Royal Family Must Follow
1. They Must Accept All Gifts Graciously
While the royal family must accept every gift that they receive (even if it’s something super lame), it’s up to King Charles who gets to keep which gift.
2. They Can’t Just Propose Willy-Nilly
According to the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, royal descendants must seek the monarch’s approval before proposing.
3. Prince Philip Was Required To Walk Behind The Queen
During their marriage, Her Majesty’s husband had to always walk a few steps behind her. Time will tell if this tradition carries on with King Charles and Queen consort Camilla.
4. There’s A Strict Dress Code
Members of the royal family are expected to dress modestly and never overtly casual. (Serious question: Can you imagine a life without sweatpants?) That doesn’t mean that they can’t have some fun, though.
5. And They Always Travel With An All-Black Ensemble
The royal family is nothing if not prepared. A respectable all-black outfit is packed with them on their travels in case of a sudden death where they must attend a funeral.
6. Two Heirs Cannot Fly Together
That’s in case something tragic were to happen. Once Prince George (who is second in line to the throne after Prince William) turns 12, he will have to fly separately from his dad.
7. No Politics Allowed
Members of the royal family are not allowed to vote or even publicly express their opinion on political matters.
8. PDA Is Frowned Upon
Although there is no formal law that forbids future monarchs from showing affection, Queen Elizabeth II set a precedent that encouraged royals to keep their hands to themselves. This is why you rarely see Prince William and Kate Middleton smooching in public, or even holding hands. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, on the other hand, clearly were not under as much pressure to adhere to this protocol.
9. The Monarch Is Not Allowed To Sit On A Foreign Throne
Even if the throne was from the Seven Kingdoms.
10. When The King Stands, So Do You
And don’t even think about sitting until His Majesty does.
11. They Leave The Table Discreetly
If a royal must use the restroom during a meal, they don’t announce it to the table. Instead, they apparently simply say “Excuse me,” and that’s that. (If only your toddler would do the same.)
12. Tiaras Are Only Worn By Married Women
No ring? No tiara.
13. There Are No Autographs Or Selfies Allowed
So put that selfie stick away.
14. Curtsies Are Encouraged
While the official website for the British Monarchy says that there are “no obligatory codes of behaviour when meeting a member of the Royal Family,” it also states that many people wish to observe the traditional forms. That means a neck bow (from the head only) for men and a small curtsy for women.
15. They Rarely Eat Shellfish
This isn’t a requirement, but a wise rule that many royals, including Queen Elizabeth, adhered to because of the increased likelihood of food poisoning.
16. The Queen Signaled When A Conversation Was Over
While King Charles will undoubtedly come up with his own signals, his mother used accessories to send messages during her rule. If Her Majesty moved her purse from her left arm to her right, then it was time to stop talking. That apparently signaled to her staff that she was ready to move on.
17. When The Monarch Finishes Eating, Then So Do You
Dining with royalty? No extra portions for you.
18. Royal Wedding Bouquets Contain Myrtle
This tradition started with Queen Victoria and continued with the Duchess of Cambridge's marriage in 2011. This pretty flower symbolizes good luck in love and marriage. Aww...
19. Six Ravens Must Live At The Tower Of London
According to legend, at least six ravens must remain at the giant fortress or else the monarchy will fall. But no one actually believes that, do they? Well, apparently so, since there are indeed seven (one spare) birds living at the Tower currently.
20. They’re Not Allowed To Play Monopoly
When the Duke of York was presented with the board game, he revealed that it’s forbidden in the royal household because “it gets too vicious.” Royals—they’re just like us.
21. You Must Address Royals Properly
This one’s a little confusing. Apparently, when you first meet female members of the royal family, you should use “Your Royal Highness,” and then “Ma'am” in later conversation. For male royals, it's “Your Royal Highness” and then “Sir.” And under no circumstances should you address the king as “Charles.”
22. Never Touch the Monarch’s Accessories
According to Capricia Penavic Marshall (former U.S. chief of protocol and author of Protocol), the queen’s handbag wasn’t only for looks. In fact, the monarch used it to send non-verbal signals to her staff. And under no circumstances could anyone else touch it.
23. Wedding Dresses Have to Be Approved
It remains to be seen if King Charles will want to weigh in on fashion. But not only did Queen Elizabeth need to approve the wedding in general, she also had to say yes to the dress. Kate Middleton showed her grandmother-in-law her custom gown by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen in the design process, as did Meghan Markle.
24. Eating Garlic Is A “No-No”
According to the Sunday Express, “Garlic [was] banned from being included in foods eaten by royal family members. With many meetings between official visitors, it is thought to be advised against to prevent any awkward bad breath.”
25. They Must Avoid Bright Nail Polish
If Middleton paints her nails, it must be a neutral color. Royals are supposed to refrain from wearing bright, distracting colors while carrying out official duties.
26. They Can't Speak Without Permission
Markle revealed that she was “silenced” by the royal family once she started dating Prince Harry. During the CBS interview, Oprah Winfrey asked: “Were you silent? Or were you silenced?” The duchess immediately responded, “The latter.”
Markle continued, “Everyone in my world was given very clear directive—from the moment the world knew Harry and I were dating—to always say, ‘No comment.’ I would do anything they told me to do.”
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