Ah, the glamorous life of a royal! How we love to watch them jet-set around the world in all of their prim finery, giving demure waves and sporting whimsical hats. It may be 2017, but the world still loves a good old-fashioned prince and princess and remains endlessly fascinated by the fancy-schmancy palace lifestyle of the British royal family. But there is a downside to such a life, with plenty of rules of etiquette to keep the regal legal – and this includes Queen Elizabeth II. In this list, we take a look at 20 of the lesser-known laws that members of the House of Windsor must respect.
20. X-offender – it’s a no-no to vote
While it isn’t against any written laws, it is simply understood that royals won’t cast votes in U.K. government elections. A shame, since there is a personal interest here: the monarch has to endure a weekly meeting with the elected prime minister. But it is understood that as ceremonial heads of state it is their duty to keep politics separate from royal life.
19. Watch out for the secret handshake
Well, perhaps not a secret one, but there’s definitely a specific handshake style that the royals are taught to use. It involves grasping the other person’s hand firmly, looking them in the eye and giving the hand one or two prim pumps. Smile and repeat…
18. There’s a right and a wrong way to tote your teacup
The royals are big fans of teatime and know there’s a specific etiquette around how to drink the stuff. The cup must be held with the thumb and index fingers looped through the handle, with the middle finger underneath. And, contrary to what you may have been told, no pinkies should be held aloft!
17. When the Queen is finished eating, so are you
Royal etiquette has it that when the Queen decides she has had her fill of posh nosh at the table, everyone else must also drop their forks. It is considered monstrously impolite to keep munching once the monarch has finished her meal.
16. Royals have to give the game of Monopoly a miss
When Prince Andrew was presented with the classic board game Monopoly at a function in 2008, he made it clear that there was no chance of him picking up from the Community Chest. “We’re not allowed to play Monopoly at home,” he said. “It gets too vicious.” A case of too much Water Works for the competitive royals?
15. They always know what they’re wearing in the mourning
It may sound morbid, but this rule is merely practical. British royals are instructed to always pack – or have packed – a set of black clothes when traveling. That way, should someone important pass away while they are on the road, they can return home in proper and respectful mourning attire.
14. No shared heir-plane rides for royals
In another practical move, there is a rule stating that two heirs to the throne cannot ride on the same airplane in case of a fatal crash. However, second-in-line Will tends to take this rule with a grain of salt, as he and Kate often fly together with George (third) and Charlotte (fourth) as a family.
13. The Queen must say yes before royals can even pop the question
This rule is actually one that was written down in law in black and white. In 1772 the Royal Marriages Act came to be, stating that British royals must seek permission from the reigning monarch before they pop the question. Godspeed, Meghan Markle!
12. Something old, new, borrowed and… myrtle?
Every royal bridal bouquet must contain myrtle, the delicate white flower from Germany. The custom’s origin dates all the way back to Prince Albert, whose grandmother once gave Queen Victoria a sprig of the stuff in the 19th century. Victoria later included some in her own daughter’s bridal bouquet, too, and thus a royal tradition was born.
11. Married bluebloods must take the honors
Upon tying the knot, royal couples are presented with a small hitch. Each are forced to take on a highfaluting new formal name. Thus Wills and Kate became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, while Charlie and Di became the Prince and Princess of Wales.
10. Hands-free royalty
The royals have to keep their hands to themselves. Technically they aren’t supposed to physically mingle with commoners – which rules out hugging or selfies with randos. However, the House of Windsor clearly isn’t strict about this law, as Wills and Kate are often spotted embracing their fans.
9. If you want to get ahead, get a hat
Female royals are each strictly required to don a fancy hat to all formal events that they are invited to attend. So the women of Windsor certainly play their part in giving the milliners of old London town plenty of new business.
8. Sorry, but royal ladies must sport tiaras to evening soirees
If, however, the event to which the royal women are invited takes place both indoors and after 6:00 p.m., the rules change. Royal ladies can now each switch from a hat to every 9-year-old girl’s favorite accessory: a sparkly tiara.
7. Shhhh… no shellfish
What is life without lobster? Well, per ancient tradition, the royals are told to pass on meals containing shellfish so as to avoid a potentially fatal brush with food poisoning. Most royals now ignore this rule, mind you, but apparently the Queen still adheres to it.
6. Garlic is off the Buckingham Palace menu
Garlic breath is punishable by beheading! Okay, maybe not beheading, but it will definitely result in a frosty frown from the Queen. Reportedly, Elizabeth II detests garlic and won’t allow a single clove inside Buckingham Palace.
5. Keeping abreast of the latest developments
Many of the royal ladies are known for their sense of fashion. Princess Di was a style icon, and Kate, while more conservative in her look, is also a trendsetter. But there is one sartorial rule that all princesses must follow: no cleavage in the designs.
4. They just can’t say no
It doesn’t matter if it’s a simple scented royal jelly candle or a life-size sculpture of Prince Harry made from butter. If one of the royals is presented with a present, they are duty-bound to accept. It would be horrible manners to decline!
3. Where there’s a Wills, there’s no way
Royal watchers and the tabloids love to say “Lady Di” and “Wills and Kate,” but such informalities don’t fly within the palace walls. Never mind “Brenda,” “Chuck” or “Phil the Greek.” Royals must go by their given names at all times; it is Prince William, not Wills.
2. The Queen can’t sit on any throne but her own
This one makes sense. In ancient times, it would have kick-started a war to have a royal plop down in the throne of another king or queen. But the rule still holds fast today and – hilariously – even extends to pretend thrones. When Elizabeth II visited the Game of Thrones set, she passed on a chance to perch upon the Iron Throne.
1. No one can turn their back on the monarch
You may consider yourself to have finished conversing with Her Royal Highness, but she may not be finished with you. To avoid any confusion, then, one must never turn one’s back on the Queen and must always wait for her to turn away first.