If Meghan and Harry’s Oprah interview taught us anything, it’s that members of the royal family have to follow some extremely strict rules. And Kate is certainly no exception. Far from it, in fact. Her position as the future queen consort means there are actually tons of things she can and can’t do. Though the duchess has been known to sneakily break protocol every now and again. You’d have to, right?
Royal Rules That Kate Middleton Always Has To Follow
1. Keep skirts long
A lot of the rules are about appropriate dress. Specifically, royals need to dress modestly and not show too much skin – especially if the paparazzi are about. As a result, Kate’s skirts are always knee-length or longer. And if it ever looks like she has bare legs, she’s probably wearing nude pantyhose. Pantyhose are an absolute must in front of the Queen.
2. Hats are a must
Kate also often wears a hat whenever she’s attending events, and the reason for that stretches back decades. In the 1950s, it wasn’t thought seemly for upper-class ladies to display their hair in public. And while times have changed, the hats remain. The duchess is also required to wear a tiara at royal dining events. In certain circles, this is a symbol of marriage.
3. Dresses should be weighted down
Kate’s had a couple of accidents where her skirt blew up in the wind. In 2012 Jenny Packham, one of Kate’s designers, told the Evening Standard, “I had a little handwritten letter from a lady in Wisconsin passionately criticizing me for the primrose yellow shift dress I made for the duchess. She said didn’t I know about putting weights around the bottom of a hem, so it can’t blow up?”
4. She must stay demure
A female member of the family must always sit with their legs together and their chin parallel to the ground. Nope, royals don’t cross their legs at the top but keep their thighs next to each other. Kate must also master the duchess’s chin-slant. That way, she doesn’t seem unsure, but she doesn’t appear cocky either.
5. No colored nail polish!
The Queen dictates a few royal fashion rules – some of them harsher-sounding than others. None of the female royals – or the male ones, for that matter – are ever likely to be snapped wearing colored nail polish, as the Queen reportedly considers it vulgar. She apparently hates wedge shoes, too, so Kate can’t wear them in front of her.
6. Hair and makeup should be subtle
A royal woman ought to keep makeup to a minimum – and definitely not try out any outlandish hairstyles. That means no black lipstick or blue hair dye for Kate. Even when dressed down, she’s still expected to look neat.
7. Fur isn’t strictly allowed
Kate isn’t really supposed to be seen in fur. This rule dates all the way back to 1137, when King Edward III issued a law preventing even his own family from wearing the stuff. In 2019 the modern royal family also appeared to stop using fur. And according to royal dresser Angela Kelly, the Queen revamped an old outfit to account for this change.
8. Always bring black
There’s also one particularly morbid rule that has been in place ever since the Queen took the throne. Whenever a royal goes abroad, they have to take an all-black outfit with them. And you may have already guessed why: in case any other member of the family passes away during the period of the trip. If they have black clothes with them already, they’ll be properly dressed for their return to Britain.
9. No PDA
Having to adhere to a dress code sounds difficult enough. But other rules govern Kate’s life, too. For instance, she’s not supposed to show affection to her husband in public. Even holding hands is fairly taboo. Why? Simply because the royal family considers themselves to be working when they’re out and about, and public displays of affection aren’t very businesslike.
10. Selfies are out
Selfies too are a long way from being businesslike, so you’re unlikely to catch Kate taking one. It does happen every now and again, but it’s usually an over-zealous fan holding the camera. And autographed photos are definitely out for a more serious reason: the royals aren’t allowed to sign anything for fear that someone could forge their signatures.
11. Always accept a gift
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 Kate is presented with a present, she is duty-bound to accept. It would be horrible manners to decline!
12. Honor your hosts
When traveling to another country, royals like to ensure that they wear the colors and fashions of their hosts. They are diplomats after all, so it helps to build bridges. For example, when Kate and William visited Ireland for the first time in March 2020, Kate made sure to wear Ireland’s national color of green.
13. She must obey the curtseying order
Royal family etiquette is vital, too. Kate is expected to curtsy to the Queen whenever the situation calls for it as well as to Prince Charles and Camilla. Officially, she also has to curtsy to the princesses who were born to that title – Beatrice and Eugenie, for example – but only if William isn’t with her. If he is with her, the princesses should bow to William and Kate. Confusing? You bet.
14. The royal hierarchy also applies at dinner time
More astute fans of the British monarchy may have noticed that the Windsors arrive at events in a particular order. Well, the same succession applies at mealtimes. Reportedly, the royal family walk into a room or take part in a procession in the same sequence that they are in line to the throne.
15. No shellfish or garlic
Having a nice sit-down dinner with the family is also complicated. Allegedly, the royal family generally don’t eat shellfish, as it could cause allergic reactions. And the Queen reportedly hates garlic, so that’s out too. Even drinking from a teacup should be done in a particular way. You need to hold the top of the cup handle with your index finger and thumb and place your middle finger on the bottom.
16. She must use cutlery correctly
Using utensils correctly is something the royal family take very seriously. For starters, knives are reportedly held in the right hand, while forks should be used on the left with the prongs curving downwards. Kate and other members of the family aren’t allowed to let cutlery screech across plates, either.
17. There’s even napkin etiquette
Apparently, royals follow strict rules when it comes to using napkins. Dinner guests are expected to keep their faces clean during meal times, and it’s not the done thing to wipe errant food away with the back of a hand. We can’t see Kate doing that, though!
18. She should discreetly excuse herself from the table
And if Kate needs a bathroom break during a dinner function, she has to be discreet. Royal etiquette dictates that she merely says “excuse me” without further explanation of where she’s going. She doesn’t want to be vulgar, after all!
19. She has to tell her baby news to the Queen first
As the head of state and of the family, the Queen must always be the first person to hear about both a pregnancy and a birth – apart from the parents, of course! Apparently, William used a secure phone to speak to his grandmother as soon as Prince George was born.
20. She must remain politically neutral
Then there’s one of the most important rules: royals don’t get involved in politics. They’re not allowed to give political opinions to the media, and Kate may not even vote. According to Newsweek, though there’s nothing explicitly governing whether a royal can vote, some or all of them choose not to. And there are plenty of other guidelines the royal family as a whole have to abide by.
21. 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…
22. 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.
23. Royals have to give the game of Monopoly a miss
When Prince Andrew was presented with the classic board game Monopoly at a function, 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?
24. 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), Charlotte (fourth), and Louis (fifth) as a family.
25. 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, and it dictates that British royals must seek permission from the reigning monarch before they pop the question. Godspeed, future brides and grooms!
26. 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, and thus a royal tradition was born.
27. Married bluebloods must take the honors
Upon tying the knot, royal couples are presented with a small hitch. Each is forced to take on a highfalutin new formal name. So, Wills and Kate became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, while Charles and Diana became the Prince and Princess of Wales.
28. 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 nine-year-old girl’s favorite accessory: a sparkly tiara.
29. 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.
30. 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 on 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.
31. No one can turn their back on the monarch
You may consider yourself to have finished conversing with Her Majesty, 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.
32. Baptism is essential
The Queen 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.
33. Etiquette training is a must
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 five-year-olds how to curtsy and use “inside voices” sounds like a headache and a half!
34. Christmas presents aren’t opened on Christmas Day
All royal presents must be exchanged on Christmas Eve in the red drawing room with some tea. The family leans towards gag gifts more than serious ones. When Harry was still single, for example, sister-in-law Kate gave him a “grow your own girlfriend” kit!
35. Shorts for the lads
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!
36. Royals should be in uniform when appropriate
If you watched the weddings of Prince William and Prince Harry, you’ll notice that each groom wore a military uniform. Both of the princes have served in the army, and it’s tradition for them to wear their uniforms on special occasions like Trooping the Color and weddings. And this goes for women too – Princess Anne is an honorary admiral and wears the uniform.
37. Jeans are only acceptable sometimes
Royals can only wear jeans when it’s appropriate to do so, like, for instance, in their downtime. One place royals definitely can’t wear them is in the Royal Box at Wimbledon. When Meghan attended Wimbledon in 2019 the media suggested she’d been told not to enter the box due to her denim trousers, but chances are she wasn’t planning to anyway – she sat with some pals.
38. A baby’s sex isn’t disclosed until after the birth
There are no gender reveal parties for royals, as no member of the public must know any sex of the baby until the birth itself. Sometimes even the parents are in the dark, apparently. When George was born in July 2013, it was reported by the BBC that William and Kate had chosen not to learn whether their new arrival was a boy or a girl prior to the child’s entry into the world.
39. 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 is to be shown.
40. The royals only eat at official events
For safety reasons, the Windsors won’t eat food outside of an officially sanctioned event. The Palace takes security seriously, and food will be approved as safe for them in order to avoid any risk of poisoning. And the Queen apparently takes it a step further, having dishes selected for her at random at official banquets.
Lisa is the CEO and Co-Founder of Mamas Uncut. She’s a Hispanic female executive whose been in digital media for over 15 years. Prior to building a career in media she was a technology M&A banker. Before starting Mamas Uncut, Lisa was the CEO of RockYou, Inc for 8 years. RockYou was a social gaming and digital media company focused on the mom demographic. TheRockYou properties included 25 game franchises as well as cafemom.com, mamaslatinas.com, mom.me and littlethings.com
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