No Shellfish, Selfies & More: Ridiculous Rules British Royals Have to Follow
Sure, being a member of Britain’s royal family sounds like a fantasy come true, but it’s not all tea and corgis and fairy-tale weddings. Unlike other wealthy celebrities who have folks waiting on them hand-and-foot, royals can’t exactly do whatever they want.
There are guidelines — and hard and fast rules — that must be followed, no matter what. We can only imagine that it’s a lot of pressure, especially given the (seemingly) arbitrary nature of some of these mandates. From foregoing selfies to nixing your favorite nickname, here are some of the most ridiculous rules British royals have to follow.
You Must Stand for the Queen
This one seems pretty self-explanatory, right? It affects us commoners and the Queen’s fellow royals alike. Everyone is required to rise when the Queen enters or exits a room. And if she decides to stand up at any time, you’d better be prepared to jump to your feet too. But why is this the case?
Princes Are Expected to Wear Shorts
When Prince George, William and Catherine’s oldest son, was younger, he was photographed quite often. One similarity between almost all of those snaps? The prince was wearing shorts. Traditionally, trousers — what Americans consider pants — are reserved for young adult men and women.
The Queen’s Purse Isn’t Just a Fashion Statement
With her bright colors and fanciful hats, Queen Elizabeth II is something of a fashion icon. Eagle-eyed observers have noticed that she’s hardly ever seen without a handbag. Lately, Twitter users have been quick to wonder why. After all, with so many folks at her beck-and-call, the Queen doesn’t need to tote her personal items around with her like the rest of us commoners.
Public Displays of Affection Are Not Allowed
As a general rule, no one should engage in excessive personal displays of affection (PDA), but this rule is even more firm when it comes to the royals and their partners. Apart from holding hands, the royal family members shouldn’t kiss or embrace in public. Of course, exceptions are made for weddings.
Traditionally, Heirs Wouldn’t Travel Together
If you know anything about royals, it’s probably that the line of succession is extremely important. For decades, heirs to the throne were forced to travel separately from one another, meaning that any two heirs couldn’t be on the same plane, for example. As you can imagine, that would throw a real wrench into family holidays.
Royals Must Serve Their Countries — In More Ways Than One
Not all royals get to sit upon the throne, but they do have the opportunity to serve their country in other ways. That is, they are expected to enlist in the military — though it isn’t a requirement by any means. For example, William, Duke of Cambridge, was part of the Royal Air Force Search and Rescue Force, and Harry, Duke of Sussex, served two tours in Afghanistan during his decade-long stint in the Army.
At Least Six Ravens Must Reside at the Tower of London
Dating back to the 11th century, the Tower of London is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. The historic castle is officially dubbed Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, but that’s a lot of words to fit onto a souvenir keychain. Home to the British Crown Jewels, the fortress also plays host to some feathered residents.
Nix Your Nickname
If you have a nickname, nix it. Once you’re a royal, it’s proper names only. Of course, this may seem a bit confusing. After all, the public lovingly referred to Princess Diana as "Princess Di," and in the lead up to their wedding, everyone referred to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as "Will and Kate." So, what gives?
Modesty Is Important to Royals
Unsurprisingly, royals must dress with modesty in mind. Anything too "racy" or "provocative" isn’t allowed, and royal women are not allowed to show cleavage. Royal family fans may recall that Princess Diana often held her evening bag in front of her chest when emerging from a car, shielding herself from the paparazzi — all while being able to step out in dresses with more "revealing" cuts.
Bright Colors Are the New Black
As we’ve already mentioned, the Queen is known for being stylish. It’s likely that you’ll almost never see her in a dark hue or neutral color. Instead, it’s always Easter Sunday in her closet. However, this abundance of bright colors and pastels might not be all a sign of Queen Elizabeth II’s tastes.
Marriage Proposals Require the Queen’s Blessing
For non-royals, there’s an old-school tradition of asking your partner’s family for their blessing before proposing. The British monarchy has its own spin on this tradition. In accordance with the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, royal descendants must seek the reigning monarch’s approval — not their partner’s familial approval — before proposing.
Always Remember to Bow & Curtsy
Traditionally, when greeting the Queen, men are expected to bow their heads and women are expected to curtsy. While you’re also expected to be a bit more subtle and restrained than the over-the-top gestures depicted in grand Hollywood movies, the general idea is to show the Queen that you respect her and, by extension, respect Britain.
Dinner Parties Have a Lot of Rules
When it comes to the royal family, there’s no such thing as a casual dinner. In fact, there’s a lot of planning and protocol that goes into each royal soiree. Even the Queen must observe a tight schedule— and a few non-negotiable rules — during meal time. For example, if she needs to step away from the table before finishing her meal, she is supposed to cross her utensils so the waitstaff doesn’t clear her plate.
Children, Not Best Friends, Make Up the Bridal Party
When most Americans hear the phrase "bridal party," they think of their Maid of Honor or Best Man — all those college friends and siblings and cousins who want to share their special day with them. However, royal weddings are a bit different. Bridesmaids and page boys, who are responsible for scattering petals, are required to be young children, not adults.
There’s a Strict Protocol When It Comes to Drinking Tea
All jokes aside, most of us know that drinking tea — and tea time etiquette — are hugely important across the pond. But, like everything else, there’s a proper way to drink tea. On a near-daily basis, royals take part in afternoon tea — or "high tea" — so even though there are a lot of rules, they are quite practiced.
Bridal Bouquets Have Specific Requirements
Unsurprisingly, there are quite a few guidelines when it comes to royal weddings, so much so that even the bridal bouquet is under scrutiny. It must include myrtle, an aromatic evergreen shrub with white flowers. Evidently, this custom started with Princess Victory and has remained in vogue, especially since myrtle symbolizes hope and love.
No One Is Allowed to Have a “Marilyn Monroe Moment” — For Obvious Reasons
The 1955 film The Seven Year Itch is responsible for the arguably most infamous Marilyn Monroe moment. In the movie, Monroe, in her iconic white dress, deals with a bit of a wardrobe malfunction when her gown billows up around her, thanks to an ill-placed subway grate. Of course, anyone who has worn a skirt or dress before can tell you that even when there’s no grate present, a wayward gust can cause a mess of unexpected problems.
No Selfies, Avoid Touching, Don’t Walk Too Close to the Queen — Any Questions?
Apart from greeting the Queen with a bow or curtsy and standing to honor her presence, there are a myriad of other rules when it comes to interacting with Her Majesty — or any member of the royal family. First, but certainly not least, royals are not allowed to take selfies or sign autographs. Not only are selfies a bit casual, it might also show preferential treatment.
Hats, Tiaras & Headwear All Have a Time & Place
As you may recall from the recent royal weddings, it’s all about the hats. Both men and women donned pretty spectacular headwear for both Willam and Catherine and Harry and Meghan’s nuptials. However, for royal women hats are a must for most formal appearances that happen during the day, a custom that socialiates and aristocrats also follow.
Shellfish Are a No Go
A royal’s health and safety is of utmost importance, and quite a few of these regal rules are enforced for the royal family’s well-being. Although it may not seem like a matter of safety at first, shellfish cannot be served at royal meals. This is because shellfish are common culprits when it comes to both severe allergic reactions and food poisoning.
None of the Queen’s Dogs Are “In the Doghouse”
Queen Elizabeth II has loved her corgis since she was a young girl. As such, she has always been very protective of her canine companions throughout the years. One rule that all staff at both Buckingham and Kensington Palace must follow? They cannot reprimand the royal pooches — no matter what. Don’t lay a paw on them.
The Queen Can’t Sit on a Foreign Throne
As any Game of Thrones fan well knows, she who holds the power almost always sits upon the throne. However, when Queen Elizabeth II visited the set of HBO’s Game of Thrones, she shocked the show’s producers and cast when she politely refused to sit on the now-legendary Iron Throne prop. However, it wasn’t for lack of wanting to do it.
The Queen’s Approval Is Needed for More Than the Wedding Proposal
As we covered earlier, the Queen must give her blessing to any royal proposal. Moreover, until as recently as 2011, there were a few other wedding stipulations she controlled. Namely, royals were not allowed to marry Roman Catholic as per the 1701 Act of Settlement. These days, royals can marry someone of any faith, so long as the Queen gives the okay.
Royals Can’t Refuse a Gift
Look, we’ve all been known to regift an item once in awhile, especially if we don’t have a need for it, right? (Just us?) Well, for royals, regifting isn’t an option. The royal family is required to accept every gift they receive, regardless of how bizarre it may be. Furthermore, Queen Elizabeth II gets to decide which member of the family receives which gift.
Royal Children Can’t Meet with World Leaders
Regal babies truly get the royal treatment. When they’re born, the Tower of London honors a royal newborn with a 62-gun salute, and Green Park, nearer to Buckingham Palace, joins in with a 41-gun salute. When Prince George, William and Catherine’s eldest, was born the royal family was showered with 610 unofficial presents from fans. Still, there are some restrictive customs.
The Queen Has Banned Certain Footwear
We all have those things we inexplicably don’t like, right? Well, for Queen Elizabeth II that thing — aside from garlic — is wedges. That’s right, Her Majesty reportedly hates wedge-heeled shoes. A source close to the royal family told Vanity Fair that the Queen "really doesn’t like them, and it’s well-known among the women in the family."
Princess Anne Changed the Royal Family’s Connection with Competitive Sports
The royals love their horses, but perhaps none of them in recent memory are as known for their equestrian talents as Princess Anne, the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II. In 1971, Princess Anne won a gold medal at the European Eventing Championships, becoming BBC Sports Personality of the Year. She went on to win two silver medals at the same event two years later.
Royal Babies Weren’t Given Last Names
Royal children were homeschooled until Princess Diana, known for being a more relatable royal, sent William and Harry to private schools outside of palace. Since homeschooling was in vogue, there didn’t seem to be a need for royal kids to adopt surnames; instead, they were called by the house or dynasty to which they belonged.
Unlicensed Driving Is Okay for the Queen
During her time as a driver and mechanic in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) in World War II, then-Princess Elizabeth learned to drive every vehicle she worked on, including trucks and ambulances. Although Her Majesty took pride in her work and service, she technically didn’t need to go through all that training to operate a motor vehicle in her day-to-day life.
Royals Can’t Use Certain Words
Perhaps unsurprisingly, politeness goes hand-in-hand with word choice for the royal family. When at dinner, for example, royals aren’t allowed to say they are getting up to use the restroom — they are just told to say "Excuse me." In general, the word "toilet" isn’t okay, so the restroom is always referred to as the "lavatory." Instead of saying "pardon," a royal is expected to say "sorry" if they want to interject. (Even royals say "sorry" too much!)