Being a royal sounds like a ton of fun, right? Grand palaces, horses and corgis, butlers and chefs, a private jet or two, and invitations to the world’s most exclusive parties, not to mention the chic designer outfits that you wear just to go to the grocery store. But is the life of a royal something you’d really want to sign up for?
Aside from the excessive media attention, loss of privacy, and royal duties, there are also a significant amount of rules that each member of the family must follow. You might have thought that being part of the monarchy excused you from abiding by the law, but on the contrary—from the moment you enter the family (through birth or marriage) you are taught to modify your behavior all hours of the day.
We knew being a royal was intense when we first watched The Princess Diaries, but we had no idea how intense, until now. Check out these insane rules that come with royalty.
15 The Dream?
Not having to work a regular job sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it? This is a reality for members of the royal family, whose time is taken up with royal duties. That doesn’t mean that they don’t pull their weight when the situation calls for it, or that they stay in bed until noon and then watch old episodes of Seinfeld for the rest of the day (which we would so do if we didn’t have to work). They have royal tours to embark on, appearances to make, events to attend, and so on. Considering all the rules that they have to remember and follow, you could argue that being a prince, princess or queen is really a full-time job.
While not having to slave away at a job you can’t stand would be ideal, this rule isn’t always so fantastic. Those who marry into the royal family are often highly educated and have dreams and ambitions that they would love to pursue, but don’t get the chance to do so.
14 Religion Matters
When you’re born into the British Royal Family, you are raised as an Anglican, or within the Church of England. In the past, there was a lot of conflict over what religion the family followed, and for many years now, the Church of England has been the official choice. So while individuals in the family might feel that they don’t connect with the Church of England and want to explore other faiths, they can’t exactly do this publicly. And if they want to rule one day, they have to be Anglican. No questions asked.
Up until 2011, it was actually forbidden for any member of the family to marry a Roman Catholic. That law was in place for more than 300 years, and originally established in 1701 to thwart the Catholic King James II’s supposed plans to take the throne. There’s no longer need to worry about that, and so the law was changed in order to catch up with the times!
13 Greeting Grandma
To Prince William and Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth II is grandma. But does that mean they walk up to her palace whenever they feel like it, indulge in her delicious baking, and hug her tightly like we do our grannies? Not exactly.
Just greeting her comes with its own protocol, and that goes for everyone in the family, not just her grandsons. Though nothing is explicitly required, it is considered polite to bow with the head when greeting her, and for the women in the family, a small curtsy is standard. Imagine having to go to that effort every time you saw your grandma, or even your husband’s grandma! While the royal family is generally expected to keep up this behavior, it’s not expected at all if you’re not British, since the Queen is not your head of state. A lot of people today just shake her hand, but things aren’t as relaxed if you’re actually royal yourself!
12 Permission Slips
Here’s a rule that will make you glad you’re not a royal! The Royal Marriages Act is a very real part of British law that requires specific members of the royal family to get Queen Elizabeth’s permission prior to proposing marriage to someone. Dating back to 1772, this law was King George III’s idea, after he realized that he disapproved of his brothers’ marriages. Of the family, the six closest in line to the throne must follow the rule—currently, Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Harry would have to ask for permission before asking someone’s hand in marriage.
Of course, this means that should Prince Harry want to wed Meghan Markle, the Queen is going to have to okay it. We don’t know what the Queen is like personally, and maybe contrary to popular perception she is totally chilled and would let her kin marry whomever they like. But somehow, we don’t think so!
11 No PDA at Work
Since the eyes of the world are on them, basically at all times, the royal family has to be very careful about how they act in public. Though this rule isn’t a law like some of the others are, it’s still something that they tend to follow: no public displays of affection while working. Working to them means attending official engagements, making speeches, and generally all of the royal things we see them doing. This is why in photos of Prince William and Kate Middleton at amazing places like the Taj Mahal, they’re never embracing.
That said, they are allowed and do engage in PDAs at more relaxed events. When they’re just attending a concert, sports game or some other purely recreational activity, they can often be seen holding hands, hugging, and hanging their arms around each other. It all depends on what the occasion is, and whether it’s appropriate to act casual or not.
10 Dinner Parties
Greeting your grandmother is a big deal when she’s the Queen of England, and dining with her is no different. Whether she’s your mother, grandmother, great-grandmother or aunt, the Queen is used to a particular set of traditions when it comes to dinner parties. The main thing to remember is that you always follow her lead; you wouldn’t dream of beginning your meal before she has, or even continuing on after she’s finished. This is one of the traditions that sucks the most for slow-eaters—even if you’re still hungry and were served late, once the Queen is finished eating, you’re finished too. Even if she is your grandmother!
On one occasion, the former royal butler Paul Burrell recalled a prince dining with Her Majesty mixing grapes, cherries, and cream in his finger bowl in order to slurp it like a soup. Since the Queen hadn’t done that first, he definitely shouldn’t have been doing it either, even if it did taste heavenly.
9 Mandatory Titles
If you’re going to be a member of the royal family, you have to accept that your name will reflect your status. Titles may make you feel silly and OTT, but too bad—they’re mandatory! The Queen needs to be addressed as Your Majesty at first, and then after as Ma’am. That seems well and good for strangers, but it would be odd to call your mother or grandmother that if you weren’t used to it (you know, if you just married in!).
Other members of the family are referred to as His/Her Royal Highness, and afterwards by Ma’am or Sir. Prince William has stated that he prefers to be called William because it’s his name, but he still can’t shake the official title he’s been given. “I am and always will be an HRH,” he said. “But out of personal choice, I like to be called William because that is my name and I want people to call me William...”
8 Elegant Wardrobes
All the elegant outfits that the royals wear aren’t just because they’re a stylish bunch—they’re compulsory. Each member of the family is required to dress modestly and in a sophisticated manner at all times, which has its pros and cons. Sure, this is amazing when you have access to all the best designers in the world and look your best at every party, but it’s not that great when you want to throw on some leggings and dash to the store, or when you want to experiment with styles that are not so “elegant”. Thigh-high boots and showing bras are a no, we’re afraid!
Children aren’t exempt from this, and if you’ve ever seen Prince George, you’ll notice he’s always in tailored shorts rather than the pants that most little boys are in. Women are also required to wear hats to fancy events during the day, and tiaras after 6pm, but only if they’re married.
7 The Right Not to Vote
The right to vote is something that thousands of people have fought over and lost their lives trying to achieve, and some people still take it for granted today. You might not realize that amongst those who still aren’t allowed to vote in 2017 are the members of the British Royal Family. Technically, there’s no law against them voting, but it is considered unfair for them to participate in elections, simply because they are there to represent the entire country.
Similarly, royals aren’t ever allowed to hold office or become involved with politics in any way. So your luck has run out if you’re a princess who dreams of being the British Prime Minister one day! The family also isn’t allowed to express personal political beliefs in public, since they can’t be seen to show favor to a particular party or agenda. That’s right—no snickering at anti-Trump memes in public!
6 The Importance of Grace
Whatever they do, the royal family must remain graceful at all times. All that stuff we saw Princess Mia learning in The Princess Diaries wasn’t just fiction; there really are certain ways to carry yourself when you’re royalty! Women are required to sit with their legs neatly crossed and tucked under, the way you saw Mia try to do, and the way Queen Elizabeth does today. From as early as possible, whether they’re children or newlyweds, they’re taught to speak and walk like royalty, and to wave with grace at the masses who come to see them.
Some of the time, this would be easy. We’re sure they’ve got a lot of people around to help make their lives easier and keep them acting graceful. But even when they have a bad day, they can’t show how they’re feeling internally. Acting elegant also means that you can’t be involved in any scandals. There have been a few in the past that the royal family have tried to bury, but they certainly won’t get you in the Queen’s good graces.
5 The Pressure of Language
Learning languages is something we didn’t see Princess Mia doing a lot of, but it’s an important part of royal life. Family members are required to learn as many languages as they can, so that when they communicate with people from other nations, they are able to show an amount of respect and courtesy, rather than expecting everyone to cater to them and speak English.
Many royals are highly educated and formally learn a number of languages as part of their course at school and university. Others are taught privately by professionals the family enlist. Prince George, for example, is already learning how to count in Spanish. Well, they do say that young kids are like sponges in the way they absorb everything, so the best time to teach them languages is when they’re still little!
4 An Interesting Menu
We always thought that one of the best things about being a royal would be the decadent feasts you would get the chance to attend. In truth, we always pictured the royal table as looking something like the Hogwarts tables in Harry Potter—filled with very kind of sweet and treat imaginable. As it happens, that’s not really true.
While the royals have the means to acquire whatever food they like, there are rules in the palace as to what they can and can’t eat. One of the biggest is no shellfish of any kind, since shellfish is notoriously easy to spoil and cause food poisoning and other issues. We have seen Prince Charles devour a few oysters but he’s not meant to be doing that! The Queen has also reportedly put a ban on garlic in the palace, since she hates the taste of it, and won’t allow pasta, rice or potatoes to be served at dinner time.
3 The Forbidden
Like shellfish and garlic, there are some things that are just off limits when you’re a royal. Nicknames are actually banned for the whole family, which makes sense when you remember how important titles are to them. We know the whole world calls her Kate Middleton, but in her day-to-day life, she actually goes by Catherine (or Her Royal Highness). The media might call them Wills and Kate, but they definitely don’t call each other that!
They are also banned from taking selfies and signing autographs. In fact, they’re not allowed to put their signature on anything that’s not an official document. Yep, this has made for some pretty awkward fan encounters. And speaking of fan encounters, it’s generally not advisable to touch the royals, other than a simple handshake. So even if Kate met Chris Hemsworth and wanted to give him a big hug, she couldn’t do it. Inappropriate!
2 Formalities Everywhere
As you can tell, formalities are very important to the royals. Most of those that they follow surround the Queen, who’s on the throne at the moment. Always following her lead, even beyond the dinner table, they are required to stand when she enters a room and when she leaves. In fact, if the Queen is standing, you should be standing too, unless she’s making a speech. It’s also very frowned upon to turn your back on the Queen for any reason. If she’s talking to you, you have to stay there and listen until she’s finished—cutting the conversation short and walking away is seen as a huge sign of disrespect.
Dinner conversations are formulated at royal events, so you can’t just chat to whomever you want at the table—there are guidelines regarding the people you can talk to and the order you have to talk to them in.
1 A Strict Christmas
We all have our special Christmas traditions that we like to pull out once a year, and the British Royal Family are no different. Each Christmas, they like to spend at least one week together at Sandringham Estate, which is bad news for anybody who married into the family and wants to see their own parents over the holidays!
Waking up early and opening Christmas presents on December 25 isn’t really a thing in the palace. Instead, they follow a traditional European custom and open their gifts on Christmas Eve after tea. But there is still an early start for the family, who have to be at church by 9am on Christmas morning, and then return for another more formal service at 11am, before enjoying a lunch of turkey and Brussels sprouts. It’s been said that Queen Elizabeth starts signing her Christmas cards in the summer, since she’s that busy, and her staff receive Christmas puddings and gift vouchers from her.
Sources: www.marieclaire.com, www.stylist.co.uk