Queen Clarisse Renaldi’s lessons to Mia in the Princess Diaries movies like, “We never rush, we hasten,” “Wave to them and acknowledge them gracefully,” “A princess never chases a chicken,” and of course “The Queen is never late, everyone else is simply early,” are just a few among the long list of rules and protocols the members of the royal family has to follow. Some rules date as far back as Queen Victoria’s era and some are just downright ridiculous. Take a look.
When the Queen is done eating, everybody should stop eating too
To start off, there is a rule that once the Queen stops eating, dinner is officially over for everyone. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the middle of enjoying your royal meal, once the Queen places her fork down, you follow. Apparently, this rule started during the reign of Queen Victoria who was known to be a ridiculously fast eater—she can go through a seven-course meal in half an hour! Talk about talent. From then on, that rule has been passed down to succeeding monarchs.
Myrtle in every bride’s bouquet
If you’ve been an avid follower of royal weddings, then there’s a chance you might have noticed this one little but very important detail—myrtle. It’s a requirement for every royal bride to have myrtle on their wedding bouquet. This tradition started with guess who? That’s right. Queen Victoria. The former Queen loved this flower and was the first one to carry it in her bouquet. She grew a garden full of it that is still very much alive up to this day, thanks to the royal gardeners. In fact, the royal brides still get their myrtle from Victoria’s garden. Moreover, myrtles are a symbol of love and marriage so it’s really the perfect addition to a bride’s bouquet.
The Tower of London has been the home of raven guardians since the reign of Charles II in the 1600s. At first, his royal astronomer wanted the birds executed because they served no purpose other than just pester around the Tower, but a superstitious courtier told Charles II that if the birds leave the Tower, the British monarchy will fall. Being a strong believer of superstitions and fearing the possibility of losing their power, the King issued a royal decree to keep the ravens in the Tower safe and sound. They even hired a ravenmaster to take care of the birds. Up to this day, six ravens still live atop the Tower of London.
Protocol for the Queen’s death
Queen Elizabeth II has been Britain’s longest-reigning monarch with 76 years of rule. She has led a very important life, so it’s only natural that her death must also be treated the same. There are certain protocols the Queen has already issued upon the event of her death, like:
- There will be 12 official days of mourning for the Queen.
- The Queen’s body will be displayed for the public to pay their respects before she is buried.
- During the 12 official days of mourning, laughter will be banned. No comedy or light-hearted shows will be played on-air. The Queen wants everyone to be in a gloomy mood so shows like the BBC and documentaries about her life and reign will be shown on television.
Seems pretty intense, right? We all have our ways to mourn and cope with the deceased, but she IS the Queen after all, so she gets to decide how her people should mourn.
No PDA for couples when in public
Admit it, we’re all a little too obsessed with royal PDA, I mean, it’s the royals! But unfortunately for us mere peasants, we see little to none PDA from our favorite royal couples. It’s because there’s a strict protocol about PDA for the members of the royal family. First, on formal and official events, they can’t show PDA which explains why Kate and William, Meghan and Harry, and even Prince Charles and Lady D look stoic in all their photos together during formal events. In the case of informal or unofficial events, however, the couples are free to go all up on each other. Sometimes, PDA is encouraged, especially during charity polo matches where the royal couple is required to kiss each other on the lips.
No PDA doesn’t necessarily mean no touching so it’s not really breaking the protocol when you see William and Kate or Harry and Meghan holding hands in public, they can do that anytime…just not when the Queen is around.
Always bring an all-black outfit when traveling
Every time the royals travel, especially abroad, it is imperative to pack a black ensemble with them. This is for them to be ready and appropriately dressed in case someone in the royal family were to die while they were away. Sounds a bit morbid, eh? But this has been a compulsory rule ever since because the Queen doesn’t want the public to see other members of the family wearing unsuitable clothing during a very somber time.
The heirs to the throne can’t fly on the same plane together
Speaking of death and royals, here’s another rule about that. The heirs to the throne CAN’T fly on the same plane together. Why? Well basically, it’s for the monarchy to make sure they have a spare heir. Kidding aside, it is actually true. In case something bad happens to the plane boarded by an heir at least they get to secure the other heir riding on a different plane. Britain can’t go heir-less, it will cause chaos! This has been a pretty strict protocol for most of the royals, but Prince William, getting the rebelliousness from his mother, continuously breaks this rule as he insists that his family travel together anywhere they go. God save the Princes!
Shellfish is a no-no
The royals follow some rules when it comes to their diet, for example, it’s strictly prohibited for them to eat shellfish in public because this type of food is something that would likely lead to food poisoning, stomachaches, and allergies which would be very bad for royalty. For similar reasons, the royals also avoid consuming tap water from other countries, rare meat, and heavily-spiced foods. You wouldn’t want to see the royals squirm in pain at an official banquet, would you?
Strictly no garlic for the Queen
The Queen has a very particular taste when it comes to food and she doesn’t have the hots for garlic, so garlic is banned from the royal kitchen. This ingredient is left out of all the food served to the Queen or at any party she hosts or attends. Aside from garlic, the Queen also has a long list of royal likes and dislikes…
The Queen has a list of royal likes and dislikes
Aside from not being a big fan of garlic, the Queen has a lot more particular rules and requests when it comes to food, decorations, everything! So when her majesty gets invited somewhere, the Buckingham palace sends a list of royal likes and dislikes to the host. One good example was when the Queen was invited to stay with the Italian president back in 2000. The palace sent a 6-page document that contained notes like, no messy tomato sauces, no unusually long pastas, no Carnations, and of course, no garlic!
Prince George can’t wear pants
The adorable Prince George is most probably the most recognized 4-year-old in the world and if you’ve noticed in all his photos, he’s always wearing shorts. Apparently it’s a tradition among the aristocrats and royals to dress young boys in shorts. Etiquette expert William Hanson explained to Bazaar, “It’s a very English thing to dress a young boy in shorts,” explains the etiquette expert William Hanson. “Trousers are for older boys and men, whereas shorts on young boys is one of those silent class markers that we have in England. Although times are (slowly) changing, a pair of trousers on a young boy is considered quite middle class—quite suburban. And no self-respecting aristo or royal would want to be considered suburban. Even the Duchess of Cambridge.”
Prince George will only be allowed to wear trousers when he reaches 9 years old.
The royal dog’s life
The Queen loves her corgis very dearly. And I’m pretty sure humans and dogs alike are jealous of them because these royal corgis are living their best dog lives ever! They live with the Queen (of course) in the Buckingham Palace (of course) and just roam around freely. They are attended to by the royal corgi servers and are provided with gourmet meals specially made for them. The corgis don’t just eat regular dog food, they are served with lamb, rabbit, or chicken all carefully diced into tiny pieces by the palace chef. The Queen also ordered that her dogs be treated like family so the palace staff are not allowed to scold or discipline the dogs.
You have to stand in order of seniority
If you see Meghan and Harry standing behind William and Kate during a formal event, that doesn’t mean they are being left out, they’re just following protocol. It’s imperative for the members of the royal family to know their positions, especially when appearing in public events and posing for photos. The standard rule is they stand in order of seniority, so her majesty the Queen is first, then Prince Phillip, Prince Charles (if he’s there), William, Kate, Harry, Meghan, and so forth. No biggie!
Tiaras have a curfew
Unlike in movies and fairytales, queens and princesses in real life can’t strut around with their shiny and sparkly tiaras whenever they please. There are only certain and specific times that the tiara must be worn. Royals receive their first tiara on their 18th birthday and usually wear them for the first time on their wedding day as tiaras can only be worn by married women. On official and formal events, royals are required to wear head coverings: scarves or hats in daytime and tiaras after 6 PM. Tiaras are mostly worn on evening occasions as they give off a more elegant and appropriate vibe than hats.
Also, royals don’t just pick out tiaras and jewels like they are in Tiffany & Co., instead, they wait for the Queen’s recommendation and approval. Even though they might have set their eyes and hearts on a certain piece, the decision is still all up to her majesty.
The Queen’s dress code
Not like her predecessors, Queen Elizabeth II doesn’t dress extravagantly, sure, she wears carefully hand-sewn and specially-made royal gowns and dresses but she doesn’t wear Victorian or Elizabethan-type dresses. Generally, the Queen likes to wear monochromatic outfits, but as a rule, she only has to wear bright-colored ensembles. This is for everyone, especially her royal guards to see her even from a far distance or in the middle of a crowd. Also, she’s the Queen, all eyes should be on her.
Dinners with the Queen are choreographed
The Queen’s every move is well calculated and well-orchestrated, even in dinners and banquets. When dining with the Queen one must know that she follows a strict rule as to whom she will speak to first. She will start a conversation with the person to her right, which is the guest of honor, and then move on to the next conversation with the person to her left. So if ever you’re invited to sit next to the Queen, bear in mind the choreography.
The Queen uses her purse to give signals
In any event or gathering, the Queen is always seen carrying a purse. This isn’t just because she likes to keep her lip balm and powder with her at all times, but because she uses her purse to give out signals to her guards and staff. As the Queen is generally the life of every party, everyone wants to talk to her, but of course, she doesn’t have the time and energy to entertain everyone so she uses her purse to send secret signals to her staff. During dinner parties, when the Queen places her purse on the floor, it means she is having a boring conversation and wishes to be excused, when she places the purse on the table, she is communicating to her staff that she wants to leave in five minutes, and when she switches her purse from her left arm to her right, it means she’s ready to wrap up the conversation and move on. Pretty sweet signals, huh? The Queen never has to go through the horrors of small talk in social interactions. PERKS!
Dos and Don’ts when meeting the Queen
There is a specific etiquette that everyone needs to follow when meeting and interacting with the Queen.
- Do a curtsey or a head bow when meeting the Queen for the first time.
- Arrive earlier than the Queen (of course, only she gets to have a grand entrance)
- Use the right greetings and address the Queen correctly, like Your Majesty and Ma’am.
- Turn your back on the Queen—it’s very disrespectful. The Queen always has to end the conversation first and be the first one to walk away.
- Speak to the Queen unless she speaks to you first. Always take her lead.
- Leave an event before the Queen, unless with permission. She’s last in, first out.
- Ask personal questions.
- Absolutely no touching!
Some of these rules have been broken by some people before, just like when actor Tom Hiddleston gave the Duchess of Cornwell a friendly shoulder squeeze when they met at a radio show and when former US First Lady Michelle Obama put her arm around the Queen for a photo op.
Even though the media and the public still call Kate and Meghan by their first names, within the royal family, it isn’t actually allowed. This is one of the oldest rules within the monarchs. Also, anyone who marries royalty is given a brand new name. Like Kate Middleton who is now officially known as Catherine Elizabeth Mountbatten-Windsor and also Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan Markle is now Meghan the Duchess of Sussex. Fancy!
Licenses and passports for the royal family
Another perk of being the head of state is never having to experience the long and arduous process of getting a driver’s license and a passport. As the UK’s passports and driver’s licenses are issued in the Queen’s name, she doesn’t need to have either of those. The other members of the royal family, however, still need to have those documents.
Strict posture for the ladies
The princess lessons we see in movies are all true! Women of the royal family need to learn specific and important postures. One of them is the so-called “duchess slant” where lady royals are only allowed to sit in one position—with their knees together. They can choose whether to keep their knees close together and at a slanted angle or to cross their legs at the ankles. This is to avoid any wardrobe malfunction as they usually wear skirts and dresses. Another is their chin placement—their chin has to stay parallel to the ground at all times because it gives the public a positive and welcoming aura. If their chin is too low, it can be seen as a sign of low self-esteem or low self-confidence, and if it’s too high, the public may perceive that perhaps they are being looked down on.
See, your countless hours of placing a book above your head while keeping your chin up were not a waste of time. It’s early practice in case you become a royal one day.
They don’t vote
Voting or being involved in any political issues is a big NO-NO for any member of the royal family. It’s against the law and it goes contrary to their goal—to be able to relate and be relatable to the masses. So sticking to a certain political belief will hinder them in fulfilling their actual duties as Britain’s monarchs.
No gender reveals
Royal babies’ genders are to be kept a secret from the public until the actual day of birth. The British monarchs have kept this tradition for decades and decades that the public’s curiosity only grew wilder every time a royal is pregnant. Onlookers have turned this into a betting sport where they take guesses and place bets on what the royal baby’s gender would be.
The Royal Family can’t play Monopoly
This is probably the weirdest and least serious rule out of everything on this list. This rule is some kind of a personal rule from the Queen’s family as they have decided not to play a game of Monopoly anymore because it gets vicious. Everyone in the family gets so competitive and riled up when they play this game. So to ensure peace and harmony during family gatherings, Monopoly had been asked to sit out.