Most of us spent years of our childhoods wishing that we were real-life princesses. Movies like The Princesses Diaries had us crossing our fingers that maybe we had been born into royalty after all, and our parents were just waiting until we were 16 to give us the good news. When 16 came and went and we were still without a crown, we moved on to hoping that we’d marry the prince of some country and become a real-life princess that way.
Well, for most of us, neither one of those things ever happened. Here we are, twentysomething, no crown in sight. Turns out, it might be for the best after all — members of the royal family have to follow some pretty strict rules. We’ve rounded up 16 of the craziest rules that the British royal family has to follow. Some of them will definitely make you thankful you don’t own a diamond tiara!
While it may not be the most absurd rule the Windsors have to follow, this one definitely takes some planning to make sure that it’s followed. Royal protocol dictates that Queen Elizabeth II must always walk in front of any group or collection of people. That includes her husband, Prince Philip. There’s no such thing as getting out of a car and heading into a venue willy-nilly — there always has to be a line up to ensure that Her Royal Highness is in the front of the family train. While the Queen didn’t invent this rule, we’re loving the girl power it so visually demonstrates!
While most of us would appreciate our family and friends’ approval of our fiancé, we don’t require it. We’re pretty much free to pick whoever we want to marry — religion, creed, and divorce history be darned. Well, the royal family isn’t quite so lucky. Every potential heir to the throne must have their future spouse approved by the Queen. Only once they have permission to propose are they allowed to. Luckily, Queen Elizabeth II hasn’t been all that strict about who her offspring marry. Prince Charles was allowed to marry divorcee Camilla Parker Bowles after his marriage to Princess Diana fell apart, and Prince Harry is also set to marry the previously-divorced Meghan Markle as well (definitely not something that would have been allowed 50 years ago, look at Prince Edward and Wallace Simpson!).
There are royal rules about even the most trivial things. One example? All wedding bouquets must contain myrtle. Every royal bride since Queen Victoria has included a sprig of the shrub in their wedding day flowers, Kate Middleton included. The queens’ and princess’ myrtle all comes from the same, very special place: Queen Victoria’s own 170-year-old garden. The plant is the emblem of love and marriage, and between that and it’s virginal white color, it actually seems like the perfect thing to add to a bridal bouquet. We might take a page from the royal family’s book and add this to our own flowers on our big day.
In a depressing, but logical, move there is a longstanding rule that no two heirs can travel together. They must always take different planes, trains, or automobiles. That way, in case of an accident or assassination attempt, there’s never a risk of losing more than one heir at a time, and the crown is ensured to stay within the Windsor family. For now, Prince William and Prince George can travel together, but as soon as the tot turns twelve, they’ll be require to take separate modes of transportation forever. This little rule must up the travel costs for the family considerably, but hey, you can’t put a price on the crown now, can you?
Another weird travel rule — members of the royal family must always take an all-black outfit with them whenever they travel. That way, in case of a death in the family, they can return home appropriately dressed. Fans of The Crown will remember the first season episode where a young Queen Elizabeth II returns from an overseas trip to England’s colonies after the death of her father without a black dress in her luggage. Being photographed so close to the loss in anything other than mourning clothes was definitely a scandal, and maybe provided the inspiration for this strict rule?
This strict rule makes sense to us: no member of the royal family can partake in politics. While much of the Queen’s role these days is more traditional than direct, she is still technically the head of state. So any role she or any other royal family member took in the parliamentary government would be a little over the line. Too much power concentrated in one person — things would start to look a little bit like a dictatorship. But the rule goes a step beyond partaking in politics. No member of the royal family is even allowed to discuss politics in public. Any sort of personal party leaning or stance on an issue must remain just that. Totally personal. Even voting is off limits.
Royal life is so rigid that even things like how one sits down for dinner are prescribed. There’s an official position in court, the Grand Master of Ceremonies, whose job it is to organize events (i.e. State Dinners) so that everything runs flawlessly and according to the rules. For example, the Queen and Prince Phillip must sit opposite each other at the center of the table. From there on out, placement is organized by rank, age and time spent in respective positions. So basically, the farther out you are the less important you are. Other things like language spoken and interests also play a small role in seating charts, but it literally takes an army to make sure that all of the customs are followed correctly.
This one is a little surprising to us! We’re so used to celebrities constantly stopping sign autographs and take selfies with fans that it seems insane that the members of the royal family wouldn’t do it as well. But, they don’t. All selfie-taking and autograph signing are completely banned. We’re not sure why the rule’s in place, but rumor has it, Prince Harry is a major supporter of it as he hates selfies. I guess when you’ve got an image to protect it sort of makes sense, but we’re not going to lie — we’d love to have a selfie with the Queen.
If you’ve ever thought that your work or school’s dress code is strict, then you’ve clearly never read the Royal dress code. Sure, you may have to wear skirts of a certain length or straps of a certain width to class, but the royal family has a book-length code they must abide by. The biggest rule? You have to dress modestly. No cleavage or shoulders allowed. It’s even preferred that hemlines fall beneath the knees. Additionally, members of the royal family aren’t allowed to be overly casual. That means no sweatpants or shorts in public at any time. Tough tooties if you’re having a rough day, or not feeling well, and wanted to just wear leggings to work. Definitely not an option.
One of the most appealing parts of being a royal is the access to the crown jewel collection. Most of us would die for the opportunity to choose some goodies from the collection of rings, bracelets, necklaces, and tiaras. The royal family has some of the largest diamonds, rubies, and emeralds in the world in their private collection. However, you wouldn’t be allowed to wear any of it unless you were a married woman. Only those princesses (and queens) with rings on their fingers are allowed to wear tiaras. Everyone else has to wait. And if that’s not motivation to tie the knot then we don’t know what is.
There are rules about everything else in royal life it seems like, so why not throw in a few about how you talk to the Queen? The rules aren’t really that restrictive for Her Royal Highness, but for everyone around her. For example, when Queen Elizabeth moves her purse from her left arm to her right, it’s a signal to her handlers that the conversation she’s in is over. They’ve got only a couple of minutes to jump in and tactfully move her companion onto a conversation elsewhere. Additionally, when a conversation is over, the Queen must exit first. Commoners and members of the royal staff and family aren’t allowed to turn their backs on the Queen — only she gets that privilege.
Overwhelmed with rules yet? We hope not. Here are a couple more teeny tiny ones that you must remember if you ever become a member of the fam. There are specific ways a royal has to sit. Legs must always be crossed at the ankle, and never at the knee. Women can’t sit with their legs parallel to each other in public, either. They always have to have their ankles crossed. That’s not all; chins have to be parallel to the floor at all times. You aren’t allowed to tilt it up or down while seated (because of the unflattering camera angles, obviously). That sounds like a whole lot of things to think about for an action that most of us usually spend no time thinking about.
Have you ever thought about the fact that you’ve never seen Prince William and Kate Middleton act affectionately in public? Not a kiss, not a hug, hardly even a hand-hold. The only time we’ve ever seen PDA between the two of them was on their wedding day, and even then things were a little stiff. Well, not surprisingly, there’s a reason for it. PDA is off-limits for royals. The Queen isn’t big on the “sloppiness” of PDA and doesn’t want anything to put the country and the crown in a bad light. It makes sense to us, but it does make all relationships look like business arrangements from the outside.
Here’s a tip: if you’re ever invited to a royal function, make sure you eat first. Even if you know a massive and delicious dinner is going to be served. Because if you find yourself eating in the presence of the Queen, when she finishes, you have to as well. Nothing sounds as awful as being really hungry, like haven’t eaten all day hungry, and sitting down to a five-star dinner, only to be able to have a couple of bites because HRH doesn’t happen to be very hungry that night. Also, this just sounds annoying because we don’t want to spend our entire meal staring at the Queen so that we don’t miss the minute she puts her fork down. We want to enjoy our royal meal.
No member of the reigning royal is allowed to sit on a foreign throne. For any reason. Even if the throne in questions is in Westeros. The Queen visited the Northern Ireland set of Game of Thrones a couple of years ago, and turned down an opportunity to sit on the Iron Throne, welded of a thousand swords surrendered in war. It may seem silly, Westeros isn’t even a real place, but that’s how seriously the rule is taken. We’re bummed though, can you imagine how many meme opportunities we missed out on because of this one, trivial law?
This one is more a tradition, rather than an official rule, but we couldn’t help but include it. According to legend, a minimum of six ravens must live in the Tower of London at all times. If not, the monarchy will fall. It may seem like one of those things only the most superstitious believe, and no one really cares about, but there are currently seven ravens living in the tower. It’s taken so seriously, that there’s a spare bird, just in case one should die. It seems the Windsor’s aren’t taking any chances. They’ll do anything to ensure that the monarchy stands and remains in their house.
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