Do not touch the Queen of England. Ever. It's just about the rudest thing you could do in the eyes of every patriotic Brit. Not only that, it's a breach of Royal protocol; and just one of many such breaches you might make if you're not familiar with the rules.
There were probably 'family rules' in your household when you were growing up, but did any of them strictly prohibit certain board games? We're guessing not. How about not eating after your mom has finished her plate? Or types of hairpin that either are or aren't acceptable? Still a no?
The British Royal Family are steeped in centuries of tradition and ceremony. That means there are some strange rules that govern not only what's expected of them, but what's expected of you if you ever meet them! Read on to ensure you don't embarrass yourself in front of the Monarch.
You Must Stand When The Queen Is Standing
This is probably one of the less surprising rules. When you were at school and the principal walked into assembly, you all stood up until they told you to sit down. If you're in court and the judge enters, everybody rises, and the judge will tell then when it's acceptable to sit back down again. It therefore makes sense that when the Queen of England is standing in your presence, you better get up on your toes sharpish!
Standing before those with greater social status than you has been hardwired into us since we were born, and you see examples of it everywhere. The military is a good example; no Private would dream of sitting on their haunches when a Sergeant entered the room. The good news is that the Queen probably won't leave you on your feet for an extended period of time. She's getting on in years now and would much prefer to be sitting down herself.
When The Queen Stops Eating, So Do You
If you're eating in the Queen's presence, you best hope she's not just having a light snack. It is considered impolite to eat in the presence of the Queen (or any Monarch) after they've stopped eating. When she lays down the knife and fork, that signifies mealtime is also over for you.
The current Queen is quite considerate about this, and eats slowly, but Queen Victoria was known to be able to consume seven courses in thirty minutes; in some cases, before the final guests had even been served their own meals. That meant the plates had to be taken away as soon as they were laid down, without being touched. Imagine how frustrating it would be to get an invite to a royal banquet, and then not be able to sample any of the food?
Everybody Bows, Everybody Curtsies.
This is another one that you should know by default. When the reigning monarch walks past, gentlemen must bow and ladies must curtsy. That doesn't just apply to us common folk either; even other members of the Royal Family observe this protocol, as seen in this picture, where William & Kate are showing deference.
This tradition isn't as demanding as it used to be. You're fine to bend one knee and bow from the head these days, but during the time of the Tudors, anyone in the presence of the reigning King or Queen was expected to bow to the waist and stay there until acknowledged and told to desist. They must have had incredibly powerful calf muscles. It was even worse if you were leaving the room, in which case the correct procedure was to bow three times while walking backward. We wonder how many people banged into the door?
When You Marry, Your Name Changes
"So what?", we hear you ask, "Doesn't that apply to everybody?". If you're a traditionalist, then yes, when you marry a wife may take a husband's last name. That's not what we're talking about here, though. Marriage in the Royal Family doesn't give you a new last name, because technically speaking the Royals don't have one ("Windsor" is merely an affectation). Instead, it gives you dominion over an area of land.
When Kate Middleton married Prince William, she didn't become Kate Windsor. Nor did she become a Princess; despite popular belief, that isn't how it works. The Queen bestows a title upon you, and as such, she became Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Similarly, although the press like to refer to the former Meghan Markle as Princess Meghan, she's actually Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. Prince Charles's second wife is Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. The Queen probably hopes that no-one else gets married soon; she's running out of land to give away.
They Mustn't Show Affection In Public
There was a reason that the prolonged kiss between William and Catherine delighted the crowds outside Buckingham Palace so much; it was a genuine sign of love and affection from inside a family who have been trained not to show any in public, ever. Look at this photo from outside the Taj Mahal. They look like they've just met on a blind date, and they feel awkward.
Royals are discouraged from public displays of affection; especially when they're 'on duty', which usually involves representing the British Royal Family at an official function. They're expected to remain formal in such environments at all times, which is why you'll often see Royal couples stood an uncomfortable distance away from each other at official photo-calls, and it looks like everyone's fallen out. We're sure they still love each other behind closed doors.
Nobody Proposes Spontaneously
If you're a member of the Royal Family, you have to be sure about who you wish to marry. Very sure, in fact. Nobody of royal blood may propose to their beloved without the specific and prior permission of the reigning Monarch. This isn't merely a matter of tradition, it's a matter of law, as stipulated by the Royal Marriages Act of 1772.
During that year, George III (he of "Mad King George" fame) was so appalled by the fact that his brother had married a commoner that he insisted a law be introduced so that it never happens again, and so each royal suitor must be acceptable to the King or Queen of the time. It is believed, but can't be proven, that the Queen has once denied her sister Margaret permission to marry on the grounds that her suitor was an adulterer. For a long time, it was also illegal for any British royal to marry a practicing Catholic, dating back to the time of Henry VIII.
Royal Wedding Bouquets Are Very Specific
We wonder how many florists have fallen foul of this requirement when trying to put a Royal Wedding together? Whereas a bride will usually have control over which flowers go in the bouquet to be thrown at the end of the wedding ceremony, tradition makes this choice for royalty. You can garland and surround it with whatever you wish, but there better be myrtle right at the core!
There's nothing special about myrtle in particular, but every Royal bride since Victoria herself has observed the tradition, and the myrtle all comes from the same place; Victoria's own flower garden at the palace, which is now 170 years old. She planted the myrtle herself, and it still blooms without fail year after year. The plant symbolizes love and marriage, and so couldn't be any more appropriate.
Children Are Required To Be At Weddings
Everybody except those with a heart of stone love to see children at weddings. They're part of the atmosphere and complete the picture; every age of a family is traditionally represented when a member of it weds, from the very oldest to the very youngest. It's the circle of life. Royal weddings always feature children; because they're required to be there!
It's a long-standing tradition within royal circles that whoever is getting married; be that a senior royal or a distant cousin, the current core Royal Family provide the pageboys, flower girls and bridesmaids. The Queen, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Prince William and Prince Harry all performed this duty as children, and Princess Charlotte was doing the honors for the first time at Pippa Middleton's wedding in 2018. Prince George is already a seasoned professional, having served in this capacity at three weddings, so perhaps he showed her the ropes.
No Royal Could Marry A Catholic Until 2011
This hasn't come up as an issue for several centuries, but in the early 2000s it did threaten to halt the marriage of a distant Royal, who was only able to avoid it by having his wife convert to Anglicism. You can thank Henry VIII for this bizarre rule, which was helped along the way by one of his successors, William III.
It was Henry VIII who denounced Catholicism, created the Church of England and appointed himself as its head; all because he wanted to get divorced. Feelings between Protestants and Catholics suffered for a long time after that, and as a sick and dying William III lay in his bed he feared that his Catholic rival, James II of Scotland, would return to the throne he was exiled from. In spite, he passed a law declaring no Catholic may sit on the throne, and no Catholic may enter the family by way of marriage. Somehow, it took until 2011 to have the law struck out.
Politics Are Beneath The Royals
Despite much speculation over time - and especially during recent years - no member of the Royal Family has any official political view. We can probably assume that none of them are fans of any Republican cause or party, but they're not allowed to discuss such matters in public. Not only do they refrain from talking about it, it would be considered unconstitutional for them even to vote.
This has proven difficult for even the most experienced royals on occasion. In the days leading up to the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, the Queen made a passing comment to a well-wisher that was construed as being in favor of Scotland remaining in the UK. Prince Charles, with his lifelong interest in environmental causes, has also veered very close to the line with his statements on climate policy in the past.
No Royal May Run For Or Serve In Office
The last Royal to hold any form of political authority in England was George III, and he used that authority to pass the Royal Marriages Act in 1772. Since then, as part and parcel of the Family being above politics, no Royal may express interest in, stand for or hold any public political office.
The Royal Family stand for neutrality in the United Kingdom and are a banner to unite behind when the country may otherwise be divided by politics. It would therefore be inappropriate for one of its members to serve at the behest of Government by either party. There is some rumor that it was this restriction, rather than just his marriage to Wallis Simpson, that persuaded Edward VIII to abdicate the throne; he felt unable to hold his tongue or refrain from giving his opinion to the Prime Minister of the time.
No Monopoly At Buckingham Palace For The Royals
No, we don't mean they're forbidden from buying up property. They do that all the time, and they have lots of it. Bizarrely, the Queen has apparently declared that the board game Monopoly isn't to be played in her presence, whether at Christmas or at any other time!
The news comes by way of Prince Andrew, who was visiting a factory in 2008, and was presented with the board game. He was pleased with the gift, and noted that they weren't allowed to play the game 'at home', because it 'always gets too vicious'. It's possible he was joking, of course, but we quite like the idea that one of the Royals lost one property too many, ended up in jail too many times or landed on Mayfair and found it full of hotels. We wonder who flipped the board over and walked out? Prince Phillip?
There Is A Conversation Protocol At Dinner
We've already covered that you mustn't eat after the Queen stops eating at dinner. You should also refrain from speaking to her if you're sitting on her left-hand side at the table. An archaic tradition dictates that at a formal dinner, the Guest of Honor sits on the right of the Monarch, and so the Monarch will greet and make conversation with them first before turning to speak to the person on their left.
Formula 1 racing driver Lewis Hamilton recently fell afoul of this tradition, having been invited to dine with the Queen. Sat to her immediate left he tried to strike up a conversation (a bold move in any circumstances!), only to be politely told that he should talk to the person to his own left first, and that the Queen would be with him in a moment.
Packing For Travel Is A Happy Process
This is a morbid rule, and it's one that was introduced by the current Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. When traveling abroad, every member of the Royals must pack a black suit and tie or a black dress, as appropriate. The reasoning behind this is quite simple; in case of a sudden death (and especially a sudden death within the Royal Family), they'll need it for both the funeral, and to be seen in public.
While the chances of this seem low, it actually happened to the current Queen. She was traveling in Kenya with Prince Phillip when her father died, and having been flown back to England, had to wait on the plane until someone brought her a black dress, as she couldn't be seen in public without one due to protocol. It was a frustrating situation to be put into, and so she's looked to ensure it doesn't happen again.
Consecutive Heirs To The Throne Must Not Travel Together
There are countless pictures of Prince Charles and Prince William together at official functions, but you'll be hard pressed to find any of them sitting next to each other on a plane, in a train or even in a car. Right now, Prince George comes with Prince William everywhere he goes, but you'll stop seeing that once George reaches the age of 12. Direct and consecutive heirs to the throne are prohibited from traveling together.
The reason is simple and obvious; in the event of a car, plane or train crash killing one of the heirs, the other would survive and therefore maintain the line of succession to the throne. If both were lost at the same time, the line of succession would be thrown open, and the future direction of the Crown would be dramatically altered.
No Autographs, No Photos
In the modern world, we tend to think of anybody famous as being a celebrity, and celebrities should sign autographs and take pictures with their fans. That doesn't apply to the Royal Family. They're not celebrities, and their standard response when asked to sign anything is 'They don't let me do that.' It's not that they don't want to but concerns about forgery of Royal signatures means they're not allowed.
The current Royals have on occasion deviated from this norm, though; possibly because signatures don't carry a much weight as they once did. Prince Charles was seen signing autographs while touring areas of Cornwall affected by a flood in 2010, Prince Harry will take pictures (but not 'selfies' as he hates them!) with people who ask politely, and the Queen famously and deliberately 'photobombed' two hockey players in Glasgow in 2014. Who says they don't have a sense of humor!
Shellfish Is Off The Menu
If you're expecting any member of the Royals as a guest at your dinner party, pay special attention to the menu. There are some situations where a great shellfish dish can impress your guests, but you'll find your Royal friend turning it away. Royals will not eat shellfish in any scenario.
Some people believe this to be a strict adherence to one of the teachings of the Old Testament, but it's actually a practical strategy. Of all the foods out there, shellfish is the single most likely to cause food poisoning and therefore lead to illness. Royal appearances and functions are planned for months, and in some cases, years in advance. Having to cancel appearances due to illness throws the calendar into turmoil and means that a senior Royal might have to let down a cause or charity who might be depending on them to turn up. It's better for them to minimize risk wherever possible.
Keep Your Hands Off Her Majesty
There's a common misconception about this; there is no hard and fast written rule anywhere that you shouldn't touch a Royal when in their presence, but years of tradition suggest that it just isn't the done thing, especially for female members of the Family. They may be obliging to a handshake, but you should probably wait to see if they offer you one than trying to initiate it.
There are many examples over the years of people breaking this protocol, including Michelle Obama putting her arm around the Queen, and LeBron James doing the same with the Duchess of Cambridge as shown above. It doesn't appear huge offense was caused on either occasion, but based on Catherine's expression in this photo, it does make them uncomfortable. In fact, when Australian Prime Minister John Howard tried to hold the Queen's hand at an official event years ago, it almost caused an international incident in the press.
Wearing Real Fur Is Discouraged
Environmental concerns, and concerns about the ethics of wearing fur, are nothing new. They're not even new to the Royal Family. King Edward III explicitly banned all Royals present and future from wearing fur by way of royal decree as long ago as the 12th Century, and his declaration has never formally been removed or overturned.
It is, however, periodically ignored. Within the past five years alone, both the Duchess of Cornwall and the Queen herself have been seen wearing hats made of fox fur. It seems unlikely that neither of them would be unaware of the royal decree, so it might be the case that they now feel that this is a law so old that they can simply ignore it. They do come in for criticism from animal rights activists every time they do it, though, and so for the sake of a quiet life it might be better for them if they just go back to playing by the rules.
Don't Just Sit Where You Like
When attending a Royal function, don't just assume you can sit with your friends at the table, and in the first free space you can find. Somebody will have spent days carefully organizing who sits where, with who, and why. Specifically, that's the entire job description of the Royal Master of Ceremonies.
The order of precedence is of vital importance when putting such a seating plan together, but it isn't the only factor that's taken into account. The age, interests and first language of guests is also taken into account, with a view to ensuring that no guest is left isolated by being unable to communicate with those around them, or by being sat with people who they have nothing in common with. Last minute cancellations by guests are usually solved by drafting in another Royal from somewhere, or the Master of Ceremonies spending a late night completely rethinking their plan for the evening and, presumably, their life choices.
Deciding Where People Sit Is Actually The Work Of A Whole Department
The Master of Ceremonies isn't alone in the task of organizing seating plans. Most of us have never been to a Royal dinner, so we can only picture the most formal high society dinner we've been invited to and multiply the level of prestige and formality by a factor of at least ten. Being sat with the wrong people at such an event would be both an insult and a terrible social faux pas. It can't be allowed to happen.
There can be hundreds of guests at such events, and so it wouldn't be reasonable to expect one person to undertake all the relevant research to find out who's coming, who it would be appropriate for them to sit with, and who it definitely wouldn't. The Office of the Marshal of the Court assist the Master of Ceremonies with such matters and are colloquially known as 'mini hosts' for the evening.
You'll Never See The Queen In A Onesie
At some point in your life, whether it's because of your job, or because you were invited to a wedding or other formal occasion, you'll have been required to abide by a dress code. Most of us don't mind that; it's nice to get dressed up now and then for a special evening. Few of us would like to be subject to such restrictions at all times.
That's reality for the Royal Family though. With very few exceptions, for example when one of them might be playing sport, Royals must remain at the very least smart-casual at all times. That means modest dress for the ladies without too much flesh on show, and a collared shirt for gentlemen. At a formal event, that dress code escalates a little to demand both hats and gloves for women, and the men to either wear a full suit or military dress if they've served in the armed forces.
That Dress Code Also Extends To Children
A child born into the Royal Family is going to spend their entire life adhering to strict codes of conduct, dress and behavior, so it makes sense to get them used to it from a young age! Prince George is growing up before our eyes. He's no longer a toddler, and so he has to dress to match his office; even if he may not yet understand why.
If you see a picture of the young Prince out and about, you'll notice he's always wearing shorts, rather than pants This is a Royal tradition going back to at least the 16th Century, when Royal boys used to wear either breeches or dresses until they were eight years old. Formality has relaxed enough to allow George to wear his shorts, but not so far to allow for pants just yet. You'll also never see him wearing a t-shirt with his favorite children's TV character on it!
'Hat's' The Way To Do It
As we mentioned a moment ago, it's expected of Royal women, including the Queen, to wear hats at a formal occasion. The Queen isn't expected to (and rarely does) wear her crown, but she'll frequently choose something wide, elaborate and brightly colored. You may recall some fervor in the press a few years ago, when Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie wore particularly outlandish hats to the wedding of William and Kate.
Fashion within the Royal Family changes more slowly than it does for the rest of us. Until the 1950s, it was unthinkable for any woman of good social standing to be seen outdoors without a hat. Whereas societal norms in the past seventy years have relaxed for everybody else, the Royals aren't quite prepared to let it go yet. This poses problems in itself; when the Queen opted to wear a blue hat with yellow floral patterns on it to open Parliament in 2017, many people noted its similarity to the flag of the European Union and took it as social commentary.
All The Good Stuff Waits For The Evening
So, if the Queen doesn't wear her crown for formal occasions - even something as formal as opening Parliamentary business - when does she ever wear it at all? The answer is only indoors, and only after 6pm. Six o'clock in the Royal household, or at a society event where the Royals are present, is when the ladies change into evening wear. The Queen may choose to wear a crown (although probably not, as they're surprisingly heavy), or a tiara. Many of the ladies present may also wear a tiara.
Evening time is also when any recognized and desirable family jewels may make an appearance, including the crown jewels. For obvious reasons, those who own such valuable assets prefer not to wear them outdoors, where it would easier for them to be damaged, lost or stolen. Always pack two outfits if you're going to a royal event; if you're lucky enough to be asked to stay the night, you'll be expected to step your attire up a gear!
Tiaras Are Actually Just Huge Wedding Rings
In high society, wearing a tiara isn't an indication of royal status. Instead, it's a statement that you're married, and therefore shouldn't be approached by a gentleman. Presumably, wedding rings aren't a big enough sign. You'll note from photographs that, prior to their respective weddings, neither the Duchess of Cambridge nor the Duchess of Sussex wore tiaras. In all future photos, you'll never see them without one when the occasion calls for it.
We assume unmarried women at these events spend the evening with nothing on their heads, fending off male suitors with a stick! Old traditions dictate that any woman whose head is completely exposed at such an event is declaring that she's 'on the market', and therefore open to propositions. Woe betide any young woman who turns up at one of these evenings without being briefed on the conventions!
Tiaras Have Math Requirements
It's not enough to just put a tiara on your head. Any old fool could do that. If you're a real Royal woman, you'll wear your tiara at precisely the right angle. Once upon a time, the done thing was to wear a tiara close to the front of the head, but things have changed in more recent years.
Both Catherine and Meghan have probably had style advice (and maybe even lessons in geometry) from royal etiquette experts on how to angle their tiara at precisely 45 degrees, and how close to the back of their head they should wear the expensive headgear. If you want to try the style for yourself at home, it should run across your head from a level that's just behind your ears. The previous fashion for wearing it further forward dates back to the 1920s but has proven difficult to maintain because of changes in hairstyle trends for women.
Cornflakes Get The Ultimate Royal Endorsement
We imagine that being a royal chef must be a nerve-wracking experience. Any chef wants positive feedback for their food, but there can be fewer worse experiences than cooking food for the Queen of England and having her send it back to the kitchen because she hates it. The wrath of Gordon Ramsay would feel like a cuddle by comparison. Fortunately, you can at least bank on an easy ride at breakfast.
The Queen is apparently a creature of habit, and each morning for breakfast she insists on English Breakfast Tea made by Twinings), and a bowl of cornflakes. Those who have known and served her say that despite her status she has surprisingly modern tastes when it comes to both food and drink, and tea and cornflakes accompanied with some fresh fruit is more than enough for her as part of her morning routine. She enjoys breakfast with Prince Phillip whilst listening to the radio.
If You Give A Royal Something, They Have To Keep It
If you were of a mischievous frame of mind, you could have a lot of fun with this bit of protocol. It's of vital importance to the Royal family's image and standing that they appear gracious and accommodating at all times. Therefore, if you present them with a gift, they're obliged to accept it and thank you for it. They may dispose of it as soon as they get home, but right there and then they can't say no!
This has led to them accepting some truly bizarre gifts over the years, including an Arctic Monkeys album, a miniature Iron Throne (from 'Game of Thrones'), Hilary Clinton's autobiography, a German canary and a full-sized Cameroonian elephant, which was ultimately cared for by London Zoo. It cannot be confirmed or denied whether Clinton gave the Queen the autobiography herself.
The Queen Is Big On Christmas
Planning for Christmas is a big event in most households, but it seems that the Queen is more dedicated to keeping the spirit of the season alive than most others. The Royal Family retreat to their Sandringham Estate in Norfolk for the festive period, and Her Majesty oversees much of the preparations herself. She arrives in plenty of time to do it, too.
A full week before Christmas Day, the Queen will travel ahead of the rest of the family to Sandringham and commence planning for the events to come. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are generally the last to arrive, making their own travel on Christmas Eve. It's a huge family occasion, which everybody is invited to. The Queen personally selects a tree each year (Christmas trees being a tradition started by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria), and decorating it is the responsibility of the children and grandchildren.
They Cheat With Christmas Presents
Of the many chores around a household at Christmas time, one of the more difficult and arduous is hiding presents from children to ensure that nobody opens theirs before Christmas Day arrives. Despite that, many families will allow the opening of one present on Christmas Eve. Never to be outdone, the Royals actually open all of theirs on Christmas Eve in Sandringham's Red Drawing Room - partially because they have public services to attend to the following day.
The question of what to buy for a family who have everything is a difficult one, but gift buyers needn't be concerned. Presents for adults are apparently of a jokey nature, with the star present at a recent gathering being a white leather toilet seat cover. Unfortunately, we don't know who bought it and for whom, but we expect Prince Harry was involved.
They Might Be Vampires
OK, that's a lie, they're almost certainly not vampires, but nobody is to serve garlic from the Royal kitchens. They won't even have it in the house (or Palace, for that matter). According to John Higgins, who was a chef at Buckingham Palace, the Queen cannot stand garlic and so refuses to have it anywhere near her.
It may just be down to taste, but there are also likely to be practical reasons for her dislike of it. Garlic is known to make people belch, which would just be unthinkable for a member of the Royal Family to do in public, and of course it lingers on the breath for a long time. It just wouldn't do for the Queen to go out and visit well-wishers smelling like she'd just indulged in takeaway food. Knowing this, we recommend that nobody eats garlic shortly before meeting the Queen, either.
They're Against Carbohydrates
Cooking for Royalty gets more difficult the further we get through this list. We're starting to regret inviting the Queen around for dinner. As well as taking shellfish and garlic off the menu, you can also forget about potatoes, rice or pasta. Those are all foods that can leave you feeling very full after eating, so we imagine it's just a case of the Royals not wanting to feel like they've gained weight after each meal. We don't know if the potato ban extends to fries, but as we can't imagine the Queen dipping fries into tomato ketchup, we'll guess it does.
This information also comes from former Royal chef John Higgins, who explained that when he was making supper for the Queen, he was likely to go with a tried and trusted favorite like grilled sole with a vegetable salad, which was always well received.
The Whole Family Are Multilingual
Many years ago, the British Empire ruled almost half the world. Although they encouraged their extended citizens to learn English (which is how the language came to be so widely spoken), they did at least appreciate that not everybody would be able to do so. Also, as their role these days is largely to be global diplomats for Great Britain, it's beneficial for them to be able to speak as many languages as possible.
Teaching foreign languages to the Royal children starts at an early age. Prince George is already learning to count in Spanish, and by the time he's a young adult he should be fluent in Spanish, French and German at the very least. They should have an advantage with the latter; there are still traces of German ancestry within the Royal Family, and the Queen is known to be proficient in the tongue. If William and Kate also wanted George and their other children to speak Greek, then he could send them to spend some time with their great-grandfather Prince Phillip, who's a native speaker.
Looking Regal Is A Full Time Occupation
If you go looking for pictures of a member of the Royal Family looking anything but their best, you might spend a long time searching. With the exception of Prince Harry, who enjoyed the occasional party and big night out during his wilder youth, the Royals appear immaculately clean and well turned-out at all times. That's not an accident, and it requires a lot of work.
The Duchess of Cambridge's hair is a source of particular fascination for tabloid newspapers, who often wonder how she manages to maintain its perfect appearance at all times. The answer is that she has three blowouts a week. A blowout, for those unfamiliar with the term, it's a particular form of hair-styling which involves boosting the roots, blow drying the hair when it's 75% wet, and a special brush. Don't ask us for any more specifics, we're not experts, but we do know that each treatment she receives from her chosen hairdresser costs £325.
Don't Turn Your Back On The Queen
The above sentence isn't intended to be a threat; she's not about to rush you, tackle you or steal your cellphone if you turn away from her. It's just very poor etiquette. When we spoke about bowing and curtsying conventions earlier on, we also said that in times gone by, if you were leaving a Monarch's presence, you would be expected to bow three times while walking backward. They don't insist on such a practice now, but it would still be considered incredibly rude to turn away from the Queen if she was facing you.
As with several other items on this list, there's nothing in writing that suggests any manner of penalty will be incurred if you were to turn your back and walk away, but you'd definitely be off the Queen's Christmas list for life. Plus, why would you walk away from the Queen anyway? You may only ever get one chance to speak to her!
The Royal Wave Is Taught From Birth
Nobody on the planet waves like the British Royal Family. Instead of shaking the hand, they keep it vertical, and twist the wrist slightly. Nobody seems to be sure how or why it started, but it's here to stay. Prince George has been able to do it since he was three years old. That implies some form of decorum training is given from the moment a young Royal is able to speak and understand.
Elocution and selection of language is taught from an early age, too. The delivery of speech as given by the Royals belongs to a different age and is more refined than even the richest and most reserved of Britain's upper class. George will always say 'lavatory' instead of toilet', 'settee' instead of 'sofa' and 'dinner' instead of lunch. The Royals are not like normal people, and so they don't talk like them.
There's A Reason The Queen Is So Colorful
We've discussed the Queen's outfits a couple of times already, and one of the common themes running through her wardrobe is that she's always brightly colored. You'll ever see her in anything drab, gray or dark outside of a funeral or an equally somber occasion; her usual manner of dress is almost neon. It's not just an extension of her personality - although she's said to have a keen sense of humor.
The Queen is aware that when she makes an official appearance somewhere, people line up to catch a glimpse of her. With crowds several rows deep, it's not always possible for would-be well-wishers to get close enough to say hello, or even see her properly. By wearing bright colors, she's deliberately trying to ensure that she stands out from the crowd, and so those who've taken the trouble to come out and see her can at least say they saw her with their own eyes, even if only from a distance.
There Is A Way That Ladies Should Sit
Conservative tabloids and magazines have almost thrown a fit at both Catherine and Meghan when they've been seen to get this wrong. In keeping with the theme of dressing conservatively and preserving a sense of dignity, women of the Royal Family are expected to position their legs in a certain manner when they're sitting down.
For reference, sitting with legs open is out of the question, although that's generally inadvisable for most people all the time. Sitting with the knees and feet positioned together is preferred, but if legs must be crossed then it should be done at the ankle. Crossing of the legs at the knees breaks with etiquette and is considered to be uncouth. Having been attacked by the press for getting it wrong once, the Duchess of Cambridge has since perfected something now known as 'the Duchess slant'; where the legs slope to one side and cross at the ankles. This was also a preferred seating position of her mother-in-law, Princess Diana.
The Queen's Bag Speaks For Her
Whenever she's out in public, the Queen carries a large and expensive looking handbag. It's invariably perfectly matched to her outfit, and we imagine she had hundreds. Nobody knows for sure what she keeps in there; it could be simply her phone, some tissues and some mints, or it could be a copy of Hello Magazine and a handgun, but the bag serves a more important purpose than just carrying her valuables.
The Queen will use the position of her bag to communicate with her staff. It would be very impolite for the Queen to directly tell someone she didn't want to speak to them anymore, and so she sometimes needs her staff to step in. If her bag is on her left arm, she's happy where she is. If she moves it to the right, she'd like to be moved on from the conversation. If she puts it on the floor, she's feeling deeply uncomfortable and requires rescue from a conversation immediately.
The Bag Can Also End An Evening
The three conversational positions of the bag give her staff direction as to who she'd like to talk to, and for how long, but it serves one extra purpose. Inside her bag is a purse. At a formal dinner, when events are drawing on for longer than the Queen's liking, she'll reach inside the bag, grab her purse, and place it on the table.
If the purse is on the table, the Queen has had enough, and wants the event to end in five minutes time. Her private staff are responsible for keeping an eye out for these signals at all times, and five minutes gives them long enough to commence wrapping-up proceedings without appearing rude or abrupt to Her Majesty's guests. It also allows the Queen to escape from long social engagements without giving away the fact that she's grown tired of her guests.
Princess Diana Was Also A Skilled Bag Lady
It isn't just the Queen who can use bags for unorthodox purposes. Her former daughter-in-law Princess Diana was no stranger to strategic bag use either. In many pictures of her taken at events, she'll be seen holding a tiny clutch bag that could scarcely have contained anything useful at all. According to her former personal shopper, carrying things was never the point of them.
Diana was once the world's most photographed woman. She also broke Royal protocol by appearing in low-cut dresses and tops (just one of many things she and the Queen disagreed about). Paparazzi would routinely attempt to get pictures of her cleavage as she made her way into or out of cars, and the clutch bags were her defense against that. Held at precisely the right angle, the bag would frustrate the photographer's gaze, and result in them having a wasted trip. We can't say we have much sympathy.
The Royals Don't Have Nicknames
As many of them appear to have nicknames, at least to us, this might come as a surprise. Inside the Royal Family, everybody is known by their full given name. We have a habit of referring to the Duchess of Cambridge as 'Kate Middleton', 'Princess Kate' or 'Duchess Kate', but that's not how she refers to herself, and nor is it how her husband refers to her. She's called 'Catherine'.
In the same way, despite the fact that he and his brother have been termed 'Wills and Harry' by the press since they were born, Prince William has only ever been 'William' at home. This extends to the rest of the family. The Queen, nor any of the other Royals, will have used the terms 'Princess Di' or 'Fergie', and Heaven help you if you were ever to call the Queen 'Liz'.
Everything Is A Code
We've already seen the remarkable communication abilities of the Queen's handbag, but we're far from done with the wordless communication skills the Royals possess. We imagine that these tips and tricks have been handed down from generation to generation, becoming sneakier and more sophisticated all the time. This one involves cutlery.
Royals are human, and as such may be required to leave the room during a long meal to answer a call of nature. This is a quandary for staff, as to fail to collect a Royal's plate if they no longer require it would be insulting. To assist, a Royal will either cross their cutlery on the plate to indicate they're still eating or position the cutlery at an angle on the lower-right of the plate to indicate that it can be taken away. Sadly, we don't know how this works if they're eating pizza with their hands.
There Is A Correct Way To Hold A Teacup
We know how serious the British are about their tea, so it's no surprise that there's a correct and proper way for the British royals to go about it. Drinking tea from small bone china cups can be a delicate affair, and so hand and mouth position is critical to avoid looking like a fool in the process.
According to etiquette expert Myka Meier, a Royal should pinch the handle of the cup between their thumb and index finger, support the base of the cup with their middle finger, and ensure that they always have the handle facing precisely three o'clock. Not only is this the most comfortable way to handle a hot cup, it also ensures that you're sipping from the same part of the rim at all times, which avoids the embarrassment of getting lipstick all around it. That's obviously a bigger concern for the women than the men.
You Have To Stay Level Headed
As if there weren't enough things to remember about how to dress, how to drink tea, how to position cutlery and where to keep your tiara, there's also a correct way of holding your chin. At all times, or at least in so far as possible, Royals are told to keep their chin parallel to the ground.
This is all about public perception. Pointing your chin towards the air could be seen as arrogant and aloof. Tilting it towards your chest, and thereby bowing your head, might be interpreted as meek and lacking confidence. Therefore, the only remaining option is to hold it straight and exude a dignified middle ground at all times. We can't help but wonder if Catherine and Meghan were handed a book containing this information when they agreed to join the family, and if they were, how thick that book must have been.
Queen Of The Road
For many of us, passing our driving test and obtaining our license was a seminal moment on our journey into adulthood. The Queen was denied that moment, although we're sure she got over it. In the entire United Kingdom, the Queen is the only person who is permitted to drive without either license plates or a driver's license.
You probably expect that the Queen is chauffeured wherever she wants to go to anyway, but she has been noted to enjoy driving, and has a collection of luxury cars worth in excess of £10m. She's even believed to have taught her children how to drive. Can you imagine being a police officer on a highway, encountering a car driving without license plates, pulling them over to give them a ticket only to find that you've stopped the Queen when she rolls down the window?
A Royal Dog's Life Is A Great One
For her whole life, the Queen has been a great lover of dogs, and especially corgis, having reared several generations of them, all descended from her very first corgi Susan, an 18th birthday present from her father King George VI. As she's keen not to leave any behind after she passes away, she stopped breeding them in 2015, but still has two 'dorgis', a corgi-dachshund breed. We suspect they're two of the happiest little dogs in the world.
At 5pm each night, the dogs are fed fillet steak and chicken breast which has been prepared by the Queen's own personal chef. All the ingredients in the meal are fresh, and each meal is cooked from scratch to order. The Queen finishes it off by pouring gravy over it herself, and the dogs tuck in. They eat better than we do!
A Royal Dog's Life Is A Great One Part 2
Not only do the dogs dine on excellent food, cooked by a world class chef, but they're also free to roam the Palace with impunity. Former Royal staff - especially those who've served as footmen or in servile roles - have gone on record to say that nobody is allowed to shout at, chastise or otherwise attempt to discipline the dogs, or else they'll face the wrath of the Queen herself.
Because the dogs aren't disciplined, they do as they please wherever they like. Some former staff have said they're not house-trained, and if they need the toilet they'll just go wherever they like; even if 'wherever they like' is against a priceless antique piece of furniture! Many Royal servants carry blotting paper at all times for this exact reason. That has to be one of the bigger downsides of working in the Palace.
The Monarch Has No Equal
Ultimately, the Royal Family is a hierarchical system, and only one person may be at the top of it. Right now, that's the Queen. One day it will be Prince Charles, and after him it will be William. When those events occur, Camilla and Catherine will face the same problem that Prince Phillip currently has to deal with; even in marriage, they're not equal to the Head of State.
Prince Phillip has to walk two steps behind the Queen at all times, to show deference to her rank. If she stops, he also has to stop two steps behind her. Sometimes, this results in awkward situations, as we see in this picture. Unable to step forward after getting out of his seat, Phillip must remain face to face with a curtain until his wife chooses to either move or sit down again.
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