Even though we fought a war to declare independence from Britain’s royal family nearly two hundred and fifty years ago, millions of people in the U.S. are still enthralled with the royals. Now that an American citizen, Meghan Markle, is set to marry into the family, obsession with all things royal is back at a fever pitch.
Although Markle isn’t officially a royal yet, she’s been subject to certain rules of conduct since her engagement with Prince Harry became public knowledge.
Most people expect that the royals have to adhere strictly to things like etiquette rules — can’t go accidentally offending a foreign diplomat, after all — but there are also a lot of lesser known rules that the Suits actress will have to follow once she says her marriage vows. Being properly royal is much more than just waving at crowds and giving interviews.
Even if you’ve been binge-watching The Crown, we bet you don’t know some of the craziest rules that members of Britain’s royal family have to follow when they’re in public.
Want to brush up on your trivia? Here are 16 Crazy Rules That Meghan Markle And Members Of Royalty Are Forced To Follow.
16. They must always be prepared for a funeral
It’s normal to want to be prepared for anything when traveling. Cold weather, rain, a funeral… well, maybe not that last one– unless you’re related to the Queen.
Whenever they’re traveling somewhere, royal family members are required to pack an all-black outfit just in case someone unexpectedly dies. That way, they can pull out clothes that are proper mourning attire, because the press is almost certainly going to be in their faces to get a reaction shot.
The optics would be pretty awful if someone were photographed in a bright blue outfit the day after a family member died, even if it’s because they were the only clothes they had left.
15. No one can eat after the Queen has finished eating
If you ever manage to find your way to a royal dinner (good luck with that one), don’t linger over your food. If the Queen has finished eating, so has everyone else at the table. If you still have most of your food on your plate… well, that’s tough luck.
This is meant to be a sign of respect for the Queen. No one begins eating until she’s started eating, and once she’s done, so is everyone else. It’s kind of like a more extreme version of following the host’s lead at a nice dinner party that you go to.
14. Nicknames are frowned upon
We’re all guilty of using Kate Middleton instead of her married title, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Turns out, though, that not even members of the royal family are supposed to call her Kate in public. In fact, all nicknames are frowned upon for being too casual, so members of the royal family can only use given names only, if you please.
This is probably another measure meant to instill respect, since a nickname usually implies a level of familiarity with the person. Most people can’t claim to have even met the royals, let alone be familiar with them, so it does seem odd allowing every average Joe to use your nickname.
13. They aren’t allowed to accept food or drinks from anyone
Don’t try to buy anyone in the royal family a beer, or you might be placed on a British watchlist.
This rule is a matter of security — they’re not allowed to accept food from anyone in case it’s been tampered with or poisoned. The only exceptions are if they’re at an official function. This does make a bit of sense, since you never know if someone is secretly planning to take down the royals with a tainted cheesecake.
Even with all of the security that’s required when they go anywhere in public, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. However, being unable to accept food in exchange for being part of the royal family doesn’t seem like such a bad deal.
12. Tiaras have to be worn at a 45 degree angle
Millions of kids across the country grew up playing dress up. At some point, they probably put on a crown and pretended to be a princess for a little while– blame Disney.
Members of Britain’s royal family really do wear tiaras, but only for very specific occasions. There is also a certain way that they’re meant to wear them. The tiara must be worn back on the head, and it must be tilted up at a forty-five degree angle. Not fifty, not forty– forty-five exactly, when viewed from the side.
In the past the custom was to wear them further forward on the head, but now it’s become the fashion rule to wear it this way. Keep that in mind for your next Halloween costume if you want to be super authentic.
11. Myrtle has to be in the bridal bouquet
Meghan Markle might not get the last say on at least one aspect of her bridal bouquet. For decades now, each royal bride has had to carry a sprig of myrtle in her bouquet.
Rumor has it that this all started with Queen Victoria’s wedding bouquet, but that’s not entirely true. However, Queen Victoria’s daughter did use a spring of myrtle from the Queen’s personal garden in her own bouquet.
The tradition has been passed on through the years — Princess Diana had myrtle in her bouquet when she was married in 1981, as did Kate Middleton when she married Prince William in 2011. We’re willing to bet this tradition won’t be ending any time soon at this rate.
10. The heirs have to travel separately
People who follow the royals have probably heard the expression “the heir and a spare.” It’s a pretty blunt way to say that whoever is in the direct line of succession for the throne needs to produce two sons (or two children, now that gender doesn’t matter). One would be the heir, meant to inherit the throne, and the other would be the spare in case the first one croaked. Yikes.
The royals are trying to reduce the need for a “spare,” though, because none of the heirs are allowed to travel together. This way, in case there’s a tragic accident, they don’t lose multiple people at once. For example, once Prince George is old enough, he won’t be able to travel with Prince Harry.
9. They have to accept every gift
They can’t take food from you, but if you offer them a gift, members of the royal family are obligated to accept with a smile on their faces. It’s bad form to refuse gifts, and you can’t have someone complaining about how their monarch rejected their generosity, as it’s not exactly a good look.
Even though they publicly accept all gifts, though, it doesn’t mean they keep all of them. Bet you can guess who has the final say.
The Queen makes the final decision on what gifts will be kept and which ones will be given away. They make a record of each gift that they receive each year, though, and Buckingham Palace releases the list to the public.
8. No fur clothing allowed
If you follow one of the blogs that very closely monitors royal fashion, you’ve probably realized that this rule is broken more often than the others. However, it’s still a rule — members of the royal family are not supposed to wear fur clothing.
It’s probably broken so often because the rule is just super old. The edict dates back to the fourteenth century, when King Edward III banned all royals from wearing fur.
The reasoning for this has no doubt weakened in the centuries since it was first declared, but it hasn’t stopped members of the royal family from getting in trouble for breaking the rules. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge received backlash for wearing traditional otter scarves in Canada as recently as 2016.
7. Women must wear hats at formal events
One of the most fun activities while watching any formal British occasion (like a wedding, for instance) is gawking at all of the hats that the women wear. Sometimes, it seems like a competition for who can wear the most ridiculous headpiece. They never disappoint.
They’re not just wearing hats for fun, though — women are required to wear hats at any formal event, a remnant of earlier customs when it was considered more modest for women to cover their heads. Now, we have awesome hats.
6. There are rules for walking
This is where things start to get a little reminiscent of The Princess Diaries. There are even rules for the way that royal women should walk down the stairs. Their chin must be parallel to the ground, and their hands should be at their sides. (If there’s a banister, they’re allowed to let one hand gently rest on it as they walk.)
If their chin is too high, they risk looking too snobbish or elitist. If it’s too low, that implies a lack of confidence that tabloids are sure to latch onto in a second. Royal women need to keep those chins parallel to the steps they’re walking on, and hope that they know where each step is so that they don’t trip.
5. They can’t vote
Part of the way that the British monarchy has survived for so long is that there’s a very clear delineation between royalty and politics. The royal family stays in their lane, and politicians stay in theirs.
It’s well-known that you’ll never catch a member of the royal family running for office — that’s strictly forbidden — but not everyone knows that they’re not allowed to vote, either. They’re required to remain pretty apolitical.
This isn’t officially required by law, but it would be a huge breach of custom if the Queen decided to make her way to the polls on Election Day. After all, she is the ceremonial head of state, with huge potential to influence voters.
4. There’s a right way to hold a teacup
It might be a stereotype that the Brits love their tea, but it’s also pretty accurate. Tea and the ceremonies surrounding it are a big part of the culture. Naturally, there’s also a very specific way that the royal family must enjoy their tea.
Teacups should be held with the thumb and index finger, while the middle finger supports the bottom of the handle. Women also need to be careful to drink from the same spot on the cup each time.
It’s almost a guarantee that they’ll be wearing lipstick, and it’s not a good look to have lipstick stains all over the rim of the cup. Instead, they must sip from the same spot each time so only a small area of the cup is stained.
3. Formal wear at dinner is required
Don’t even think about showing up to a royal dinner in casual attire. You’ll be way underdressed. Formal wear at dinner is absolutely required — think Downton Abbey, where the characters always dressed for dinner.
This seems like an obvious rule for if they’re hosting an official event, but this is also true for just a regular family dinner at the castle. (You know, no big deal.)
Even if the family has spent the day outdoors relaxing or having fun, when it’s time to get ready for dinner, they go change into formal clothing. The rest of us might enjoy dinner in jeans, but this is one tradition the royal family seems pretty determined to keep alive.
2. No shellfish in public
If a royal is traveling somewhere known for its delicious seafood, they’re going to have to resist the temptation to indulge. Eating shellfish in public is a big no-no for people like Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton.
This is one of the more practical rules that the family has to follow. As you can read in the fine print on many restaurant menus, there’s a higher chance of food poisoning when you eat shellfish when compared to other options.
The last thing the Queen wants is for someone to have to rush to the bathroom to be sick during an official state visit– so no shellfish and no rare meat. Those foods are only allowed when they’re at home.
1. No autographs
You’ve probably seen photos of members of the royal family waving to cheering crowds, all ready with smartphones and waving scraps of paper for them to sign. If you happen to find yourself in that situation somehow, don’t get your hopes up for a royal autograph. Those are explicitly not allowed so that no one can copy the royals’ handwriting.
Forgers would love to see what a royal signature looks like so they can imitate it and scam people out of lots of money. To prevent that, no one is allowed to sign autographs. (Selfies are also frowned upon, but there are a few lucky people who have scored one.)
However, it’s probably a bit late for them to contain Meghan Markle’s autograph given her career as an actress — and more people than ever are definitely going to be clamoring for it.
What other crazy royal rules did we miss? Is your favorite not on the list? Let us know and keep the fun going in the comments!
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