Sure, they ride around in luxury cars and live in palaces, but the royal family has weird habits and quirky routines just like the rest of us. Some of these are mandated by the government for their safety, like the fact that they aren’t allowed to go public with their political opinions, but many others are just personal habits. So kick back with a cup of tea and enjoy these amusing facts about the famous family.
Look, when you’ve been ruling a country as long as Queen Elizabeth has, you’re allowed to party. She has a glass of champagne or a dry martini in the evenings, and her favorite cocktail is a gin and Dubonnet.
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Because the royal family hops around so many engagements every day, they have to eat often to keep their stamina up. Queen Elizabeth in particular eats four small meals a day: breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea — usually a selection of light sandwiches — and dinner.
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Before Princess Diana was beloved by the whole world, she was beloved by children. She had a number of jobs before becoming engaged to Prince Charles, one of which was kindergarten teaching, and another of which was nannying.
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Traditionally, royals have never been allowed to sign autographs, due to the risk that a member of the public will forge their signature. Before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle married, she found a clever way to connect with the public: she simply wrote, “Hi Kaitlin,” in a young fan’s notebook.
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The Queen always wears neon colors when she’s out and about, but it’s not just a fashion statement. The monochrome outfits serve two purposes: one, to stand out so people can see her among a crowd, and two, so her security team is able to spot her in an instant.
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Having gotten up years, it’s vital that Queen Elizabeth never goes abroad without a Royal Navy doctor present. She even carries her own supply of blood with her, in the event that she needs an emergency transfusion.
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Though they dine on some of the finest cuisine in the world, the royals are never allowed to have one food: garlic. Though it’s a supremely tasty spice, it also tends to seep out of the pores, and the family meets so many people that they can’t risk smelling bad.
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Though Prince George is ahead in line to the throne, Princess Charlotte has more of an impact on the British economy. She’s brought in an estimated $5 billion for the nation, while George has secured $3.6 billion. The reason? Parents rush to buy anything Charlotte is seen wearing.
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Another thing you can do when you’re a ruler is celebrate your birthday twice. The Queen’s real birthday is April 21, when she celebrates privately with family. Her public celebration happens every year on the second Saturday in June. The tradition was started by King George II in 1748.
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Though they have the option to be chauffeured wherever they please, the adult royals often drive themselves. According to royal correspondent Duncan Larcombe, it gives them a break from feeling pampered and lets them feel a little bit more normal and independent.
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Prince Charles has his routine honed to a fine point, and he’s incredibly specific about it. His pajamas, and even shoelaces, get ironed every day, and his attendants are expected to squeeze exactly one inch of toothpaste onto his toothbrush every morning. Apparently he’s never heard that you only need a pea-sized amount!
You’re never fully dressed without a smile — or without Essie’s Ballet Slippers shade of nail polish, in Queen Elizabeth’s case. It’s been her favorite since 1989, and it’s so popular that 30 bottles of it are sold every hour in the United States.
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Princess Diana went for maximum ’80s drama at her wedding. Her dress train was an astounding 25 feet long, and the dress itself was embellished with over 10,000 pearls. It looked gorgeous, but it sounds…heavy.
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When they gather for Christmas dinner, the royals have a weird tradition: they weigh themselves before, and after, eating. We imagine it turns into a competition to see who gained the most, but the habit goes back to the early 20th century, when King Edward was worried his family wasn’t eating enough.
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The royals have a long history of military service, and Queen Elizabeth was no exception. During WWII, while still a princess, she signed up to be a military mechanic with the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service. They even assigned her a rank-and-file personnel number — No230873.
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Princess Diana was fascinated by dance and wanted to be a ballerina as a child. Fate had other plans for her, but she never grew out of the love for ballet. According to a former teacher, she “had dance in her soul,” and it “helped to alleviate her emotional life.”
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Prior to Diana’s labor with William, male royals were customarily not present during the birth of their children. Prince Philip was notoriously out playing squash while Queen Elizabeth delivered Charles — who later took it upon himself to set a new precedent by being present for Diana.
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Though Camilla Parker-Bowles was at one point a controversial figure in the British media, and apparently with the royal family, the Queen warmed up to her. She even gave Camilla the highest rank in the Royal Victorian Order — the title of Dame Grand Cross.
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When Kate Middleton married Prince William, she became the first royal bride with a college degree — a master’s degree, no less. Meghan Markle soon followed, with double degrees in theater and international studies that serve her well on the global stage. The two leaders set educated examples for young women to look up to.
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Most royals don’t work, instead spending their time helping charities, but Princess Eugenie really wanted to earn her keep. She works as the associate director at contemporary London gallery Hauser & Wirth, having been passionate about art from a young age.
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The royals kids are forbidden to eat any kind of shellfish, as it commonly causes food poisoning. Considering children don’t typically gravitate to food that’s locked in a hard shell and smells like the ocean… we’re sure they don’t mind.
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Queen Elizabeth II insists all members of her family get baptized. Even Meghan Markle was required to be christened before she wed Prince Harry in 2018. The Archbishop of Canterbury leads the ceremonies and uses holy water from the Jordan River.
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When they’re baptized as wee babies, royals must don this gown, which was first worn by Queen Victoria’s first child back in the 1800s. Because that ancient gown is now fragile, royal babies wear a replica.
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Normal parents don’t typically take their newborns on impromptu trips around the globe, but life is different when you’re a royal. Royal babies must be prepared to travel at any given moment, which is why they’re issued a passport nearly the second they leave the womb!
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We’re sure you remember being dragged to boring family events as a child. Well, the royal kids are required to do the same. They’re taught to act appropriately at weddings, christenings, and public events, like the Queen’s birthday ceremony.
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According to etiquette expert Myka Meier, the royal children all take etiquette classes “as soon as they’re old enough to sit at a table.” Teaching 5-year-olds how to curtsy and use “inside voices” sounds like a headache and a half!
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The royal kiddies often grow up learning a second language. The Queen, Prince Charles, and Prince William all speak French, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is teaching little Prince George and Princess Charlotte how to speak Spanish.
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Boys are required to wear shorts in public. While you’d think a pair of snazzy trousers would be more formal, it stems from the fact that pants on young boys used to be viewed as… middle class. Heaven forbid!
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And as for the little royal ladies, it’s dresses all the time. “They tend to wear smocked dresses as little girls when they are in public with their parents,” royal expert Marlene Koenig explained to Harper’s Bazaar.
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The strict protocol for these British Royal juveniles literally begins at birth. In fact, it’s tradition that their arrival is immediately announced to the public. A notice with the baby’s sex and delivery time is posted outside of the Buckingham Palace gates.
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Even the royal children must remain impartial when it comes to politics and cultural affairs. When Prince George donned an England Lioness jersey in 2019, it riled up the media, as it was thought that he favored one UK soccer team over another.
The Duchess of Cambridge
The royal children are expected to act as the page boy and flower girl at royal weddings, and those cuties always steal the show. Prince George and Princess Charlotte entranced nearly everyone at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s 2018 wedding (sorry Meg!).
Olivia Rae James
Security guidelines are tight. Safety is an everyday priority, and each royal child has security with them at all times, even while attending Thomas’ Battersea London Day School.
Erin Schaff / The New York Times
The public loves gifting the royal children with flowers and toys, but royal protocol declares that the Queen decides what they can keep after accepting.
The Circle Project
As per centuries-old tradition, the highest-ranked royal boys are expected to one day serve in the military. Prince Charles served in the Navy, Prince William served in the Air Force (eventually becoming a civilian air ambulance pilot), and Prince Harry joined the Army (eventually becoming a helicopter pilot).
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When you imagine a princess, you likely picture her in a fluffy cupcake gown with a sparkly tiara on her head. Scratch the tiara, as those sparkly head pieces are reserved for married royal women! Sorry, Princess Charlotte.
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Families always have bizarre nicknames for each other, as Prince Philip allegedly (and hilariously) calls the Queen “Cabbage,” but they’re not allowed to use them publicly. Sadly, no one is uttering the words “Prince Georgie” or “Princess Charlie” out in the open.
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Believe it or not, royal children aren’t permitted to call Queen Elizabeth II grandma! While they don’t call her Your Royal Highness, she’s either known as “Granny” or “Gan-Gan.” According to the Daily Mail, Prince William used to address her as “Gary!”
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Queen Elizabeth II is famously the only person in the UK permitted to drive an automobile without a license (which is questionable). As for the royal kids, they’re required to earn a driver’s license once they’re of age. Hmm, can we really trust mischievous Prince George on the roads?
Ever heard of the British Royal “Windsor wave?” It’s their go-to move when greeting the public, and all the royal children have to learn the suave, photogenic wave. They look pretty darn cute waving their little hands at all of the adoring peasants, er, fans.
Upon entering the British Royal family in 2018, Meghan Markle also had to adjust to a slew of royal rules. She doesn’t even have custody of her own son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor! Queen Lizzie II has full legal custody of little Archie via a weird royal rule that’s over 300 years old.
2. Say goodbye to Meghan’s formerly funky style, as now she’s almost always wrapped up in a chic, yet traditionally formal, getup. With bonkers English hats and pristine pencil skirts, she’s had to bury her wardrobe of the past for the sake of tradition. Rest in peace.
3. Meghan seems like the sweetest of souls, as she was known to take selfies with fans frequently. Since her royal engagement, however, this had to end. She regretfully notified the public that selfies were off limits, having said “The Crown doesn’t let me” to avoid any misconstrued encounters.
4. Just like those banned selfies, Meghan Markle isn’t permitted to give out autographs. This one makes some sense, though, as it’s to prevent scoundrels from forging her precious signature. We don’t need some sort of Catch Me If You Can situation plaguing poor Meg.
5. When Meghan left her comfortable Toronto home for the palace, she sadly left her rescue dog Bogart behind. Though she took her other pupper, Guy, with her to the UK, Bogart was an oldie; his poor health halted him from traveling. People weren’t pleased.
6. The days of good ol’ Meggy being able to attend her yoga classes at free will are long gone. Nowadays the philanthropic Duchess of Sussex must be accompanied by security in public at all times. Freedom is a hefty price to pay for love and aristocracy.
7. Meghan, we know you love wearing your tiara during brunch, but they are strictly reserved for evening hours. While it’s undeniably comical, the royals are prohibited from wearing tiaras before six pm due to their formal nature. Technically you can wear your crown to bed, Meghan.
8. Though this one isn’t a mandatory law per se, it is according to Queen Elizabeth! Her majesty forbids the royals to eat onions and garlic, as she despises bad breath. Is it silly? Yes. Is it devastating? It is if Meghan has good culinary taste!
9. Though royal etiquette expert Myka Meier relayed to People that this isn’t official protocol, Meghan and Harry shan’t show PDA. It’s simply in favor of tradition that they not share a wet smooch in the public eye. A romantic hand-hold is likely all we’ll get from them.
10. There’s something classy about wearing an all-black outfit. Despite this, royal tradition sees that wearing solely black is reserved only for mourning. Meghan has broken this rule on a few occasions, and it’s always earned her a side eye from media outlets.
11. Speaking of black, when traveling, Meghan must carry a hefty suitcase to fit her belongings plus her required all-black outfit in case of an unexpected royal death. Ever since the queen’s father passed while she was abroad, she’s never felt comfortable vacationing without proper mourning wear.
12. Most of us have endured a good, spontaneous public cry at least once, which often garners sympathetic reactions from the confused public. Royals are strongly encouraged to keep it contained, or at least neutral, in public. Hold those tears, Meghan.
13. While it may be no biggie to unwillingly delete an Instagram account, it’s quite dismal that she canceled her personal blog, “The Tig,” which she said “evolved into an amazing community of inspiration, support, fun and frivolity.”
14. No more business partnerships for this royal fashionista! Meghan used to have a clothing line in collaboration with Canadian retailer Reitmans. Considering she’s an invested royal now, moneymaking passion projects are a no-go.
15. In fact, pretty much any endeavor that’ll have Meghan bringing in her own cash is canceled, which includes her acting career. Meghan had to say goodbye to her character on USA Network’s Suits in 2018, despite the show going on for over a year longer.
16. You’ve seen 2001’s The Princess Diaries. Julie Andrews wasn’t kidding when she said “Princesses never cross their legs in public.” If you look closely, you won’t catch Meghan Markle, or any royal, with crossed legs either. It’s just how it is!
17. Presenting a royal newborn to the world has become a weird, public custom of sorts. It’s expected, and Meghan and Harry, too, were afforded little privacy and showed off their precious newborn just two days after his birth.
18. Queen Elizabeth has several rules she holds royals to, and a carefully set bedtime is one of them. Once the queen goes to bed, everyone goes to bed, including Meghan. The late Princess Diana would sometimes retire for the night before the queen, which was considered tawdry.
19. There’s nothing like taking your sweet time choosing a color from the rainbow wall of polishes at the nail salon. Sadly, Meghan’s not allowed to don a fresh, neon set of acrylics (though she broke this rule in 2018 with an ox-blood-colored mani). Pale pinks and nude colors only!
20. Rigid tradition states royals open presents together on Christmas Eve and attend the Sandringham House with the queen on Christmas day. Meghan gave up so much for love, but she wasn’t surprised. She knew royals of the past had sacrificed so much themselves.
Meghan gave up a lot of autonomy for love, and that’s a sacrifice many royals throughout history have made. Her grandfather-in-law, Prince Phillip had to renounce his royal Greek roots and become a British subject to marry Elizabeth!
So he took his mother’s maiden name — Mountbatten — and committed to the woman who’d eventually become Queen Elizabeth II. For his sacrifice, he earned some pretty cool titles, like Baron Greenwich and Duke of Edinburgh.
The New York Times
2. Prince Johan Friso: Son of the Netherland’s Queen Beatrix, Prince Johan had no problem becoming “just Johan” to marry Mabel Wisse Smit. His family didn’t either — the queen even expressed a fondness for the commoner!
Until, that is, Smit’s former relationship with a drug kingpin became public knowledge. Even without the prime minister’s approval, however, the couple married in 2004. They were eventually dubbed Prince and Princess of Orange-Nassau.
The Pink Royals
3. King Edward VIII: Smitten with an American divorceé, Wallis Simpson, the actual, fully recognized king of England gave up the scepter and throne to be with the woman he’d fallen for. The decision rocked England and soured citizens on the Royal Family.
“I have found it impossible to carry on the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge the duties of king, as I would wish to do,” he told the radio after his decision, “without the help and support of the woman I love.” They married in 1937.
Town & Country Magazine
4. Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya: As a young adult, the Thai princess packed her things and headed for the United States to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she fell in love with Peter Jensen, an American man.
When news broke in 1972, Rajakanya earned her family’s scorn despite willingly giving up her royal title. Unfortunately, she and Jensen divorced in 1998, and she returned to Thailand with their three kids. Eventually, she was nominated for prime minister.
5. Princess Atsuko: The 21-year-old daughter of Japan’s Emperor Hirohito fell for a 25-year-old Takamasa Ikeda, a dairy farmer. Because he wasn’t exactly royal in the eye’s of the emperor, Princess Atsuko was forced to give up her crown — and more.
No longer a royal, the former princess forwent her annual royal allowance, ¥650,000 (about $1,800) — quite the sum in the 1950s. Her father was notably absent at the couple’s wedding because, as he claimed, he was sick with a cold.
6. Princess Ayako: Japanese imperial law states only women must give up their titles and allowances to marry commoners. This wasn’t a problem for Princess Ayako, who married Kei Moriya, a shipping company employee, in 2018.
She felt positive about the opportunity to pursue her love. “I am awed by how blessed I am,” Ayako said on her wedding day. Afterward, without royal servants, she would learn to drive and shop and live like a commoner.
7. Lennart Bernadotte: Without royal consent or his parents’ permissions, the grandson of the Swedish king was forced to travel to London with his commoner love, Karin Nissvandt, so they could be married. Still, he was disappointed he’d upset his parents.
To assuage their son’s guilt, they granted him a 111-acre island on Lake Constance called Mainau. There, the couple created a botanical garden that sees over 350,000 flowers bloom in the summertime.
8. Princess Sayako: Like the former-Princess Atsuko, the daughter of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko was forced to forgo her royal title and allowance to marry Yoshiki Kuroda, an urban planner.
She didn’t mind a bit, however. “I want to learn various new things, and I look forward to a new life as a member of the Kuroda family,” she said in an interview, “while treasuring in my heart the life I have led up until now with their Majesties and my family.”
9. King Carol II: While married to Jeanne Marie “Zizi” Lambrino, the daughter of an officer, the crown prince of Romania fell for Magda Lupescu. Under the rules of royalty, a relationship between the two wasn’t allowed.
So, Prince Carol abdicated the crown and went into exile with his new love. Weird lineage laws saw him become king in 1930, but he — once again — abdicated and went into exile. He and Magda married in 1947.
10. Princess Mako: Faced with giving up her royal allowance and title, Japan’s Princess Mako, left, hesitated when it came to marrying commoner Kei Komuro in 2018. She postponed the wedding to 2020.
Of course, the princess claimed their love was as strong as ever. “I wish to think about marriage more deeply and concretely,” she said, “and give sufficient time to prepare our marriage and for after the marriage.
11. Prince Carl Johan Bernadotte: Perhaps it’s because the pen is mightier than the sword that the Swedish prince fell for a journalist, Kerstin Wijkmark. Nearly five decades after his great uncle abdicated for love, this royal followed suit in 1946.
The New York Times
The New York Times questioned his new wife about her status as a commoner, to which she replied, “I don’t know exactly what that means.” The two stayed together until Kerstin’s passing in 1987.
12. Prince Charles and Princess Diana: Described as a “fairytale” by members of the British aristocracy, Prince Charles’ marriage to the late Princess Diana charmed the entire world. The couple was inseparable, and it appeared this royal relationship was one built to last.
Alas, this was not the case, as below the surface things were anything but picturesque. Behind closed doors, the couple could barely stomach one another, and after just five years, the extramarital affairs had begun.
Shortly after news of the couple’s difficulties broke, Charles was spotted with his former girlfriend, Camilla Parker Bowles, though he insisted they were just “great friends.” In response, The Mirror published the transcript from an intimate phone call between the two and exposed the affair.
With the relationship out, Charles remained with Camilla, and the couple tied the knot in 2005. Though the Queen gave the marriage her blessing, she chose not to attend the ceremony.
Family World News
But Charles’ infidelity wasn’t the only strain on the couple’s marriage. Diana had relationships with other men, including a four-year fling with Captain James Hewitt – the family’s riding instructor – whom she reportedly fantasized about running away with.
Diana also had an affair with Italian art dealer Oliver Hoare (right) and a man by the name of James Gilbey. In taped calls between the princess and Gilbey, he referred to Diana no less than 53 times by the pet-name “Squidgey.” The scandal was later dubbed “Squidgeygate.”
The Mirror UK
13. Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend: A recent divorcee, employee of the crown, and 16 years Margaret’s senior, Captain Townsend made waves in the ’50s when his affair with Princess Margaret leaked to the public.
The crown posted Townsend to Brussels in an attempt to calm the media frenzy, but word had already broken that Margaret planned to marry him. Ultimately, though, the princess decided against the marriage, unwilling to relinquish her claim to the throne.
Five years later, Margaret wed photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, and the two were granted the titles of Count and Countess of Snowdon. The marriage seemed idyllic, but after only a few years cracks began to show.
The Cheat Sheet
Margaret was known to have engaged in a number of affairs by 1966, and by the early ’70s, the couple had irreparably drifted apart. The Snowdons split in 1978, making Margaret the first royal divorcee since Princess Victoria in 1901.
14. Princess Anne: Like her brother Prince Charles, Princess Anne is no stranger to divorce. In 1992, her marriage to Captain Mark Phillips ended after she began an affair with naval commander Timothy Laurence.
The relationship became public when letters sent to Anne by Laurence were stolen from her briefcase and published by The Sun. They wed in Scotland in December of that year, as the Church of Scotland permits second marriages for divorcees.
15. Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson: After ten years of marriage, Prince Andrew and Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson divorced in 1996, citing strain from Andrew’s extensive military career. The divorce was amicable, but Fergie’s scandalous relationships that followed cast her in a negative light.
The couple still maintains a close relationship, and as Duchess of York, Fergie still receives a certain level of royal treatment. She also hasn’t ruled out the possibility of one day remarrying Andrew: “He’s still my handsome prince,” she said.
16. Prince William and Kate Middleton: Most people wouldn’t consider Prince William’s marriage to Kate Middleton scandalous, but the years before certainly were. Many speculate that William’s eight-year courtship of Kate was due in large part to her being a “commoner.”
Being that Kate doesn’t have royal blood, the Queen should’ve given her the title of Princess William as opposed to her current title of Catherine, Her Royal Highness the Dutchess of Cambridge. Lucky for her, the Queen isn’t too much of a stickler for the rules.
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