There was a lot of speculation about how Meghan Markle’s life would change once she tied the knot with Prince Harry. Beyond Meghan Markle’s style evolution and the basic shift in her public etiquette, there are many rules and regulations the former actress had to learn before she sported that tiara. From strict food restrictions and travel protocol set by Queen Elizabeth, to the little-known details of a daily life for the Royal staff, read here to find out why living with the Royal Family in Buckingham Palace isn’t all that simple.
1. No Personal Social Media
Meghan Markle had to kiss her Snapchat dog selfies and pretty filtered snaps of flowers on Instagram goodbye after she got engaged to Prince Harry in November 2017. In fact, most of her social media accounts including Twitter and Facebook have been inactive for months.
Members of the Royal Family are not allowed to run their own active social media accounts, so just like Prince William, Kate Middleton, and Prince Harry, Meghan Markle will have to share updates about her life using the Kensington Royal account. This profile is used to share announcements from everyday royal events to engagement and baby pictures.
2. The No Selfie Culture
After Meghan Markle appeared in public with Prince Harry on their first official royal engagement, the future Duchess of Sussex revealed that she can no longer take selfies with anyone after several avid and loving fans asked to snap a photograph with her.
Jenifer Gehmair, an expert on Royal Family etiquette, explained the reason behind why it is forbidden for royals to take selfies. She explained that it is considered rude for someone to turn his or her back on a duke or duchess to take a selfie instead of making eye contact and engaging in a proper conversation with them.
3. No More Autographs
Just like selfie-taking with the Royals is a no-no, the Royal Family members are also forbidden to sign any autographs, something the former Suits actress Meghan Markle is extremely used to doing when she meets excited fans.
The rule was established in fear that people would forge the Royal signatures, which is why they are only allowed to sign royal documents. This rule was broken by Prince Charles when he signed a piece of paper with “Charles 2010” for a family whose home was destroyed by a flood. Prince William and Kate Middleton also broke the rule by signing the U.S. Embassy book of condolences for the victims of the Orlando shootings in 2016.
4. From Red to Nude
It’s no surprise that any woman of royal stock needs to keep her nails clean, shaped and manicured, but come Christmas time, you won’t catch the Duchess of Cambridge or the Queen sporting freshly painted red nails. According to OK! Magazine, Royal Family members stick to light and nude nail polishes because dark and colored hues are forbidden.
It seems like Meghan Markle has followed suit in the last few months wearing only clear or light-colored nail polishes. As a future member of the Royals, she’ll have to follow in the footsteps of Queen Elizabeth and Kate Middleton by investing in some of Essie’s peachy colors such as the pale pink color Ballet Slippers, the apparent favorite at Buckingham Palace.
5. Closet Purge
Believe it or not, Her Majesty the Queen detests wedge shoes, and according to Vanity Fair, has made it clear to women in the Royal Family that an outfit paired with wedges will not be well-received — just because of the shoes!
Luckily for Meghan Markle, she’s always been more of a stiletto pump girl, but the former actress will more likely have to purge her wardrobe of any shoes that so much as resemble a wedge. But the closet purge doesn’t end there, read on to find out about more fascinating clothing and style requirements at Buckingham Palace.
6. A Full-Time Royal
When Kate Middleton tied the knot with Prince William, the Duchess had to put the brakes on her career almost immediately. Prior to the Royal wedding on April 29, 2011, Kate worked as a website designer, photographer and marketing officer for Party Pieces, her parents’ events planning company. Prince William worked as a pilot after the wedding, but eventually hung up his wings for good as well.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will have to do the same once the wedding bells chime to pursue only royal affairs. The accomplished actress is already two steps ahead and retired from acting when the pair announced their engagement.
7. Royal Residence
No member of the Royal Family, whether their title is Prince, Princess, Duke, Duchess, Earl, or Countess, may reside in a regular house. If Meghan Markle chose to buy a house in England, Prince Harry could stay there if he really wanted to, but an official royal residence for the couple, with the approval of Queen Elizabeth as per royal protocol, is a requirement.
Just like Prince William and Kate Middleton choose to live in Anmer Hall, an independent royal residence not attached to a palace or castle, when they aren’t occupying Kensington Palace, so too can Harry and Meghan Markle. In other words, an ordinary house is pretty much out of the question.
8. Limited Political Rights
When Meghan Markle marries Prince Harry, she will obtain her U.K. citizenship, but that will not grant her certain rights that other U.K. citizens benefit from, such as voting and political expression. The Royal Family cannot vote, run for any type of political office, or express any political views publicly.
Although it is not prohibited by law, the parliament claims it unconstitutional for the Monarch and members of the Royal Family to vote or to participate in the election process in any way. This is to avoid any political sway they could have on the public.
9. PDA is Frowned Upon
Any public display of affection is extremely rare for the Royal Family. Queen Elizabeth always walks a few steps ahead of Prince Philip and they are never even seen holding hands. There is also no official rule outlawing a public affection, but most of the royals keep it to a minimum owing to a longstanding tradition.
According to Myka Meier, a royal etiquette expert, this tradition is why no one has spotted Prince William and Kate Middleton holding hands or kissing ever since their wedding. However, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle so frequently break this rule with their hand-holding and public affection that Meier predicts the rule will eventually fizzle out. “Meghan and Prince Harry holding hands at a royal engagement is a refreshingly modern approach to their new role both as a couple and as representative of the royal family,” Meier stated.
10. Adult Bridesmaids Are a No-No
A royal bride deserves royal entrapment, right? Well, the established law for Royal weddings is that the wedding retinue consists of young children and not adults, so there were lots of speculation as to whether Meghan Markle’s best friends Serena Williams and Priyanka Chopra would be the former actress’s bridesmaids on May 19, 2018.
It seems like rules are made to be broken because both the Queen and Kate Middleton bent that rule for their weddings. Kate’s sister Pippa was her maid of honor in 2011, and Queen Elizabeth had a group of bridesmaids around the same age as her when she married Prince Philip in 1947. So it doesn’t surprise us that Meghan followed suit.
11. A Bouquet Fit for a Princess
You’re were probably wondering which designer wedding gown Meghan Markle would don, but we bet you didn’t think about her bouquet? When the Duchess of Cambridge walked down the aisle, she clutched a beautiful white bouquet with a sprig of myrtle, and Markle followed suit in line with the Royal Wedding tradition dating back to Queen Victoria’s era, with the addition of Princess Diana’s favorite forget-me-nots as well as sweet peas, lily of the valley, astilbe, jasmine, and astrantia.
Myrtle has been part and parcel of all Royal Weddings since the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria got married in 1858, and it was placed in the bouquets of Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana, and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton ever since.
12. Marrying Out of the Faith
Meghan Markle has not publicly associated herself with a particular religion or church, and therefore she was baptized and confirmed before the wedding. The LA-born former Suits star’s father was a member of the Anglican Episcopal Church of the United States while her mother is a member of the Protestant faith, but the Royal Family, associated with the Church of England, takes its religion very seriously, so Duchess of Sussex had to be confirmed before the marriage.
In 2011, the centuries-old ban forbidding the British monarch to marry a Catholic was annulled. This means that the monarch has to be in communion with the Church of England, but it doesn’t mean that members of the Royal Family cannot marry a Catholic or someone of any other faith. The law against marrying or being a Catholic has been British law since the Act of Settlement was passed in 1701, but it was reformed in 2011 by former Prime Minister David Cameron as he found it “discriminatory and offensive.”
13. The Duchess Slant
Although not an official rule, women of the Royal Family members are forbidden to sit with folded legs. According to an expert for Hello! Magazine, it is actually frowned upon for women to cross their legs, unless they cross them at the ankles.
You’ll never see the Duchess of Cambridge crossing her legs. Instead, she slightly slants her legs side-by-side and that tilt has been dubbed “the Duchess slant.” In fact, Princess Diana was the one to come up with the feminine royal seating position to avoid crossing her legs.
14. No Nicknames at Buckingham Palace
No one is allowed to call any member of the Royal Family by his or her nickname because it’s considered too informal, but that doesn’t mean the family doesn’t have some fun behind closed doors. Lady Diana and Kate Middleton actually skipped the rule as people often referred to Diana as “Lady Di” and refer to the Duchess as “Kate,” instead of her full name, Catherine.
Prince Harry’s close friends call him “Potter,” while Prince William and Kate were overheard calling each other endearing names such as “darling” and “babe”. Even the Queen has a nickname — she was called “Lilibet” as a child, and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh affectionately calls her “cabbage.”
15. Hats Off; Tiaras On!
When you see those fancy hats the royal women wear to formal events, it’s not just a fashion statement. An outfit to an official event is considered incomplete without a hat, but if the event takes place indoors after 18:00, the hats need to come off to make room for a sparkly tiara.
The tiara rule only applies to married women, as a woman at a formal event sans tiara means that she’s on the market. Tiaras were traditionally placed towards the front of the head, but the more modern style is to wear it farther back on the head tilted at a 45 degree angle.
16. A Royal Beauty Routine
A hairstylist is required to be available for the Royal Family no matter the circumstances, like when the Duchess of Cambridge got her hair done after she gave birth. Kate Middleton is expected to look well-groomed, manicured, and healthy at all times so she goes for monthly haircuts, facials, and bi-annual hair treatments. The Duchess also goes for manicures, blow waves, dental and beauty consultations, as well as nutritionist appointments.
Kate remains loyal to the Richard Ward salon she frequented before she got married to achieve her signature blowout hair and to The Hale Clinic in London to get her bee-venom facial done by the beauty expert Deborah Mitchell. At home, Kate keeps it pretty simple using some Bobbi Brown products and the Heaven Bee Venom Mask.
17. Free of Fur
King Edward III banned anyone, including the Royal Family and the men of the Church, from wearing any fur in the 12th century, but it seems like the rule has been forgotten by some of the royals, even Queen Elizabeth, who has been spotted donning furs on several occasions.
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and the Duchess of Cambridge received lots of backlash in 2016 when they were seen wearing traditional scarves with an otter fur trimming and fur-lined ski gloves during a visit in Canada.
18. A Neon-Colored Dressed Queen
Members of the Royal Family need to ensure they dress modestly and elegantly, which means you’ll almost never see any of them wearing very casual clothing. Even Prince George of Cambridge needs to sport some tailored shorts and polo shirts when seen out.
Queen Elizabeth II is renowned for her neon-colored ensembles consisting of a matching coat, dress, and hat. She opts for bright and luminous colors, from neon yellow to royal blue, because she wants to stand out in crowds. According to Countess Sophie of Wessex, it’s so people can be able to say “I saw the Queen” or spot a bit of her hat.
19. A Somber Wardrobe Requirement
Whenever anyone in the Royal Family travels abroad, they are required to pack an all-black outfit in their luggage, even the neon-color-loving Queen. It is extremely important for them not to forget this black ensemble, and for a very morbid reason.
Every family member needs to be prepared with a mourning and funeral-appropriate outfit should any of the royals suddenly pass away. The rule stems from the time the Queen was informed of her father King Geroge VI’s death while she was in Kenya with Prince Philip. She had no mourning outfit on her upon her return to England.
20. Two Heirs to the Throne Cannot Travel Together
Those in line to the throne are not allowed to fly on the same plane together even if they are headed to the same destination, which means Prince William cannot fly together with Kate and their children George and Charlotte.
This royal protocol came about when air travel was more risky, however, the Queen has relaxed the rule over the last few years like in 2014, when William and Kate flew with Prince George to Australia. Ever since then, they have flown to Poland, Germany, and Canada together, but the Queen needs to have the final say on the matter. Have you been enjoying these interesting and strange rules of Buckingham Palace? If so, read on to find out how it extends to the Royal staff and even the Queen’s beloved corgis.
21. No Shellfish
An old rule in England declared shellfish off limits for the Royal Family to eat because of the potential chance of food poisoning seeing that shellfish can become rancid when stored or prepared incorrectly. This rule has also been partially phased out as of late.
The Queen bent the rule during former President Barack Obama’s visits to the U.K., and a few private chefs at Buckingham Palace have revealed that they served lobster on several occasions. When it comes to food, the Queen can be very picky and bans certain other foods and condiments from her residences.
22. Garlic Breath Prevention
It’s no secret that Queen Elizabeth hates garlic so much that it’s been banned from Buckingham Palace’s kitchen. She also doesn’t like her food served with too many onions and steers away from potatoes, pasta, and rare meat. Chef Carolyn Robb, who worked as full-time private chef at Kensington Palace, told OK! Magazine that the Royal Family doesn’t eat garlic because of having to talk at public engagements in close proximity to people.
When the royals are away, they are instructed to avoid spicy food and tap water so as to avoid an upset stomach, which could get in the way of public meetings and arrangements. What the Queen does love eating are strawberries, only in season, while her favorite is a chocolate biscuit cake. Her breakfast menu is absolutely non-negotiable, consisting of English Breakfast tea and Cornflakes served in a plastic Tupperware containers for her and Prince Philip.
23. Dinner with the Queen
The number one rule when dining at Buckingham Palace is that everyone has to follow the pace of the Queen. No one is allowed to start eating until Her Majesty the Queen has lifted her cutlery to take her first bite of the meal. The royals also never put down their silverware unless they need to drink or use the restroom, at which point they cross the cutlery on their plate so the staff knows they aren’t finished eating.
All members of the Royal Family and the other dinner guests need to keep their eye on the Queen because as soon as she stops eating, everyone has stop as well even if there is food left on their plates. The Queen is known to be quite a fast eater, so that means guests have to keep on their toes.
24. Small Talk with the Royal Family
Whether one is invited for high tea or dinner party, meal conversations are formulated according to particular rules. The Queen starts the conversation with the guests by turning to the person seated to her right to converse during the first course. She then switches to the guest seated to her left during second course.
There is no such thing as random seating during royal events at Buckingham Palace. The officers of the Marshal of the Court call themselves mini-hosts because they arrange the seating for the guests according to certain criteria ranging from age, language, and interests.
25. A High Tea at Buckingham Palace
The Royal Family are suckers for their afternoon teas, which are filled with an abundance of finger-foods, cucumber sandwiches, pastries, scones, and of course a freshly-brewed pot of Earl Grey tea. The royal etiquette expert Myka Meier explains that there’s an art to holding a teacup at Buckingham Palace.
If you want to drink tea like the royals, Meier says you will have to pinch the top handle of the teacup with your thumb and index finger, while the middle finger rests at the bottom of the handle as support. Meier told People Magazine that the handle should remain at a 3-0’clock angle so that one can take a sip from the same spot each time and to avoid lipstick stains around the rim of the cup.
26. Queen Elizabeth’s Secret Conversation Code
When The Majesty the Queen finishes talking to someone, she always needs to be the first to leave so as to avoid people turning their backs to her. But how do they know when she’s done talking? Well, they won’t know, but her staff certainly knows when she’s ready to call it quits.
When the Queen moves her purse from her left arm to her right one, it’s a subtle hint to her staff that she’s ready to end off the conversation. When she places her purse on the table, it indicates that dinner needs to come to an end within five minutes.
27. Touching a British Royal
The monarchy’s website states that when meeting the Queen or the Royal Family, there aren’t really obligatory rules to follow, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a whole lot of traditional protocols that people follow, such as bowing or curtsying or addressing the Queen as “your majesty” and the members of the family as “your royal highness.”
When it comes to touching a royal, it never usually goes beyond a handshake once they offer their hands out, but there have been a few mishaps like when LeBron James placed him arm around the Duchess of Cambridge, when Queen Elizabeth hugged Michelle Obama, and when the former Prime Minister of Australia Paul Keating placed his arm around Queen Elizabeth.
28. The Gift of Giving
The Royal Family is expected to graciously accept gifts presented to them, no matter what the gift may be. That doesn’t sound too tricky given that gifts usually come in the form of flowers or symbolic souvenirs, but what happens when the gifts get a bit bizarre such as the the elephant Jumbo III, who was gifted to the Queen in 1972?
All gifts received by the family belong to the crown, and therefore the Queen gets to decide what to keep or not, while re-gifting and selling are strictly forbidden. This is why it is very common to see some of the other royals wearing the late Princess Diana’s jewelry because it wasn’t really hers in the first place.
29. No Monopoly
In 2008, Prince Andrew was presented with the board game Monopoly to mark his visit at Leeds Building Society’s revamped Albion Street headquarters to which he remarked, “We’re not allowed to play Monopoly at home. It gets too vicious.”
The British royals have dealt with their fair share of public scandals and embarrassments, but it seems like the board game proves to be too intense and the perfect way to cause a rift in the family. So the best way to avoid arguments is to just ban the game altogether. Judging by the picture, it’s probably safe to say that the Royal Family can play Jenga.
30. The Life of a Royal Corgi
Not only does the Queen not reprimand her Welsh Corgi companions, she also ensures they eat homemade gourmet meals every day prepared by the private in-house chef at Buckingham Palace. What’s more, the meals are hand-delivered by one of the palace’s footmen.
A former private chef of the Queen, Owen Hodgson, described to The Telegraph how he used to prepare the food for the royal corgis: “I simmered rabbit, cooked down some chicken, then finely chopped the meat, sieved the stock and returned the meat….It was the corgis’ dog food.”
31. Little Fibs at Buckingham Palace
Darren McGrady, who used to work as the private chef for the Royal Family from 1982 to 1993, revealed in an interview how the staff would have to lie about dinnertime owing to Queen Elizabeth’s notoriety for being late.
McGrady recalled how dinner at the Balmoral castle was at 20:30 when Her Majesty the Queen was in attendance, but the royal staff would tell her to arrive at 20:15 seeing as though she’d always be the last one down.
32. The Art of Folding Diapers
In case you were seriously considering to apply as the nanny for the Royal Family’s children, it’d serve you well to know that you need to study for three years at Norland College. According to Reader’s Digest, the college has been training nannies for many decades.
People who study at Norland College, an affiliation of the University of Gloucestershire, earn a BA degree in Early Years Development and Learning. What’s more, the students learn to how fold cloth diapers if they want to work as nannies at the likes of Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace.
33. The Super Nanny
It’s tough work for the nannies of the Royal Family. Not only do they have to care for the children and regularly coordinate with Kate Middleton and Prince William to organize family outings and activities, they also have to ensure the privacy of the children is protected at all times.
When the nannies are out and about with the Royal Children in public spaces, they have to safeguard them against the attention of the paparazzi and from anyone snapping photographs of them. However, while they are juggling all that, they also have to walk the dogs at the same time.
34. Out of Sight; Out of Mind
One of the cardinal rules for the Royal staff is that they cannot be seen or heard while they get to work to avoid distracting the Royal Family. With over 1,000 workers milling about performing their duties, it might sound like a difficult feat not to be noticed, but there seems to be an art to not being seen.
The Royal staff reside in their living quarters in Buckingham Palace, but during work hours, they go about their business with complete discretion. Besides for keeping really quiet and remaining unnoticeable, the staff have to sign a document binding them to secrecy about their job so that no one outside of the castle knows about it.
35. Jobs at Buckingham Palace
When you see the announcement “the queen is hiring” don’t take it too literally because any job postings at Buckingham Palace are handled by the Royal Household office, secretaries, and employment agencies, but that doesn’t mean the actual job postings aren’t attention grabbing.
One of the recent vacancies advertised on the British Monarchy website was an opening to polish the queen’s paintings and vases for 20-hours a week at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland. We bet you didn’t know that Her Majesty the Queen requires one person dedicated to that kind of chore!
36. Home Births
Hospitals might be thought to be the most popular place to give birth nowadays, but until Princess Diana gave birth to Prince William, all members of the royal family were born at Kensington Palace.
That was where Queen Elizabeth was born and where she gave birth to all her children. Both Princess Diana and Kate Middleton chose to give birth to their children at the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in London.
37. Royal Birth Rules
As soon as a new member of the Royal family is born, it turns out that Queen Elizabeth must be the first to know about it. According to The Telegraph, when the newest prince was born on April 23, 2018, she was the first to know.
In fact, it turns out that Prince William made the special call to his grandmother via an encrypted telephone. After the family is notified, the official Town Crier, currently a man named Tony Appleton, makes an announcement to the public. This tradition began in the day when most people were illiterate.
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