10 of the Wildest Rules the British Royal Family Has to Follow
The British monarchy practically oozes pomp, pageantry, and glamour. It also beats with a strong pulse of history, and nothing proves that more than the list of rules that members of the family must adhere to (seriously, it's like a Walgreens receipt). While many official laws have been done away with — like male primogeniture in the line of succession and divorcées being prohibited from remarrying — there are still a host of requirements that Queen Elizabeth II has in place, especially for royal women. We've rounded up 10 of them that may come as a surprise. Scroll through to see them now, then find out which rules you have to follow should you be in the presence of royalty.
Nobody walks in front of the queen — not even her husband.
OK, we actually kind of love this one: as the husband of the monarch, Prince Philip is required to walk a few steps behind the queen at all times. And whenever the family takes part in a procession or official event, they must enter and be seated in Order of Precedence — the queen and Prince Philip; Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall; Prince William and Kate Middleton; and so on as it applies to the order of succession to the throne. Talk about someone always having your back!
Tiaras can't be worn during the day — or by unmarried women.
Technically, tiaras are reserved for members of the royal family who are married (that's why you never saw Kate Middleton or Meghan Markle wearing them until their respective wedding days). Tiaras have long been considered a status symbol, but they were also used to discourage men from making advances; if a woman was wearing a tiara, it showed that she was taken and not looking for a husband, and that gentlemen should kindly avoid hitting on her (sigh).
Kate has been photographed in many royal family jewels since becoming the Duchess of Cambridge, and now that Meghan is an official member, she'll likely be able to borrow pieces from the queen's vault for formal events like state dinners and diplomatic receptions.
If the queen is done eating, you're done eating, too.
Dinner with the queen means following her every lead. Whether it's a fancy banquet with foreign dignitaries or just Sunday dinner with the family, every cue must be taken from her majesty. When she sits, you sit; when she stands, you stand; and you don't start eating your meal until she starts eating hers. Likewise, once the queen puts down her fork and napkin, your meal has come to an end as well. Oh, you're still hungry? Sorry, but that sounds like a personal problem.
Steer clear of the shrimp cocktail (and the lobster platter, and the crab cakes).
There are a handful of foods that her majesty doesn't allow in royal kitchens — garlic is famously banned — but even while dining out and about, the royals are advised not to eat shellfish. This is to ensure that they aren't hit with food poisoning ahead of any royal engagements. The same goes for drinking tap water while traveling to foreign countries, as unclean water can result in bacterial diseases that would most certainly affect their tight schedules (and, um, their tummies).
Of course, not everyone follows this advice as strictly as the queen does (as evidenced by Prince Charles knocking back oysters at a festival), but rules were meant to be broken, right?
Two direct heirs are not allowed to travel together.
In order to preserve the line of succession, two direct heirs — like Prince William and Prince George — in line for the throne are technically not allowed to travel by plane together. This rule dates back to the days when air travel was less safe and was put in place to ensure that the lineage is protected in case of an accident.
Prince William and Kate Middleton have made the call to break royal protocol by traveling with their children on a handful of occasions, for a few reasons. When embarking on a tour of Australia and New Zealand in April 2014, they brought 9-month-old George along; it was believed that they didn't want to travel separately from him because they wanted to keep the family together, and it was more cost efficient. Also, William accompanied his own parents on official tours when he was young and likely has fond memories. It is said that once George turns 12, he and William will likely be required to fly separately to royal engagements.
Always pack a black outfit when you travel, just in case.
This rule was instituted in 1952 after then-Princess Elizabeth learned the news of her father's passing while she and Prince Philip were on a royal tour of Kenya. Elizabeth hadn't brought any black dresses with her, so she stayed on the plane until one was delivered. Now, all members of the royal family are required to travel with funeral attire so they are prepared in the event of a sudden death.
Signing autographs (and posing for selfies) is a no-no.
In order to avoid the possibility of their signature being forged and used against them, royals are prohibited from signing autographs for fans. Yes, they may sign visitors books, official documents, and condolence letters, but they can't just give their signature to anyone on the street.
Back in 2010, it was royal rule-breaker Prince Charles who broke protocol to sign an autograph for victims of the Cornwall floods. While meeting with a couple, he was asked for an autograph for their young son that would "make his day." Charles then shocked his bodyguards when he asked one of them to find a piece of paper for him to sign. He wrote "Charles 2010" and even apologized for the "shaky writing" because he "never writes standing up."
Shorts are typically worn by boys in the royal family until the age of 8.
Ever wonder why you've seen so much of Prince George's cute little legs? Boys in the royal family usually wear shorts exclusively until they are 8 years old, and it's considered a rite of passage dating back to the 16th century, so get ready to see even more of his kneecaps over the next few years. We'll also likely see his brother, Prince Louis, rocking shorts for a while going forward.
Traditionally, pants are only worn by young adults and grown men in the family, but George made headlines at his uncle Harry's wedding in May 2018 when he stepped on the scene in a smart pair of trousers — marking the first time he's been seen wearing them in public.
They must accept all gifts graciously — but that doesn't mean they keep them.
Gifts are pretty much thrown at the royals when they go on official visits, and there's a rule in place that they must accept presents from leaders and organizations graciously, no matter what. Queen Elizabeth II is the one who decides who gets to keep which gifts, according to policy. The catch? According to official British royal guidelines, "gifts offered by private individuals living in the UK not personally known to the Member of the Royal Family should be refused where there are concerns about the propriety or motives of the donor or the gift itself." Most recently, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle returned nearly $9 million of wedding gifts from unsolicited well-wishers.
Don't even THINK about suggesting a game of Monopoly.
This rule may not be in any of the royal history books, but apparently the family is forbidden from playing Monopoly — and the reason will make you laugh. During an official appearance before Christmas 2008, Prince Andrew was presented with the classic board game and revealed, "We're not allowed to play Monopoly at home. It gets too vicious." There have been lots of stories of how crazy things get during the queen's annual Christmas festivities at Sandringham, and Monopoly must have became too competitive to handle.