12 Words or Phrases to Never Say If You Meet a Member of the Royal Family

Queen Elizabeth runs a tight ship when it comes to obeying royal protocol. The royals can’t take selfies, must travel wearing a black ensemble and must stick to a strict dress code. (There are even rule on how you should address Liz.) But did you know that there are also a variety of words and phrases the family makes a point to ban from their vocabulary?

Yup—according to royal author Kate Fox, there are over a dozen terms avoided in conversation by the British Royal Family. Lucky for us, she addressed the proper ways to speak when coming in contact with members of the family in her book, Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behavior.

We’re not going to lie, some of them are pretty surprising. In addition to not being able to say the world “toilet,” the group must also avoid common terms such as “patio” and “lounge.”

So, if you plan on getting together with Her Majesty or simply just want to learn the tricks for communicating properly with the queen, keep reading for 12 words and phrases to never say to a royal.

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1. Portion

We know this seems a bit odd, but Queen Elizabeth, Prince William, Charles and the rest of the group won’t say “portion” when referring to food. In fact, they prefer to use the term “helping”. For example, Prince George would likely ask for another helping of cake after he finished his first piece.

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2. Toilet

This might be the only one that we were familiar with before writing up this piece. However, we didn’t know that the word was frowned upon because of it’s French origins. So, if you’re ever in the presence of the queen make sure to refer to the restroom as the “lavatory” or, our favorite, the “loo.” (Oh, and also make sure to excuse yourself.)

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3. Patio

While many people with homes have patios or decks, the 95-year-old monarch’s fam describes their outside area as a “terrace.” How fancy.

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4. Perfume

When complimenting someone on their fragrance, a royal won’t use the word “perfume.” Instead, they would refer to it as “scent.”

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5. Lounge/ Living Room

We’re all familiar with this term for our favorite room in the house (in Britain, some would even call it a lounge), but Her Majesty and the rest of the royals refer to their main gathering area as the “sitting room.” Of course, our living room will never compare to the sitting or drawing room of Buckingham Palace.

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6. Couch

And what do they sit on in the sitting room? Not just any old couch, but rather, a sofa. Per Reader’s Digest, the term “couch” is only used in the middle and lower class.

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7. Posh

Technically this slang term means elegant or stylishly luxurious—something that we believe encompasses every member of the Windsor family. But they themselves won’t use the word to describe themselves or in conversation.

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8. Refrehsments

The royal family is known for entertaining and holding official engagements across the country. And while most of these events feature food and what we often call “refreshments,” Liz, Charles and Will will only call what’s served “food and drink.”

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9. Tea

While the more common form of the word is the caffeinated drink that you sip, in the U.K. the term also refers to an evening meal that takes place between 5 and 7 p.m. But the British royal family will only use the term when speaking about the former. Instead, the latter is called “supper.”

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10. Dessert

At the end of our meals, it’s common to follow up with a dessert or sweet. However, members of the royal gang never refer to a sugary or chocolate snack as such. Instead, when the queen has a craving, she will ask for “pudding.”

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11. Pardon

Looking to excuse yourself? Or do you need someone to repeat something? Before you do either, make sure to not say “pardon” and instead simply say “excuse me” or “sorry.” Sure, it doesn’t seem as formal as it should, but what the queen says, goes.

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12. Mom And Dad

This includes “mum.” Why? Because no matter what age you are, in the royal gang all parents are always referred to as “mommy and daddy.” This means Prince Charles still causes the monarch, “Mummy.” How sweet.