Etiquette rules everyone in the royal family must follow

There are rules regarding everything from sitting to eating

Olivia Petter
Friday 26 March 2021 12:38 GMT

When it comes to etiquette, few people understand its significance quite like the Britishroyal family.

There are rules and expectations regarding everything from clothing and gifts to eating and naming newborn children.

Etiquette training begins when members of the royal family are very young, with Myka Meier of Beaumont Etiquette telling People magazine that the training starts “as soon as they’re old enough to sit at a table”.

And for members of the royal family who join as adults - like the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex - they receive training on how to behave too: Meghan spoke about being taught to curtsy by her husband and Sarah Ferguson in her interview with Oprah.

Here’s everything you need to know about etiquette that members of the royal family to have to follow.

They must greet the Queen in a specific way

While the Royal Family website states that there are no obligatory codes of behaviour to follow when it comes to meeting the Queen, it stresses the importance of courtesy.

That said, traditional forms of greeting HRH do apply, even if you’re in the royal family.

The website states: “For men this is a neck bow (from the head only) whilst women do a small curtsy. Other people prefer simply to shake hands in the usual way.”

When addressing the Queen, the correct formal way to do so is by calling her “Your Majesty” and subsequently “Ma’am”.

Children must play outside on a daily basis

According to Louise Heren, the author of Nanny in a Book, which discusses the training future royal nannies receive at Norland College in Bath, children in the royal family follow a very strict schedule that includes at least one session of outdoor playtime a day.

“There will be lots and lots of outdoor play. … Lots of bike rides, playing with their dogs, potentially some gardening. … Yes, you are getting mucky with your hands in the soil, but you are learning how to plant,” Ms Heren told The Sun, adding: “If it is tipping it down, they will still go out.”

They must dress appropriately at all times

There are several expectations when it comes to clothing for the royal family. The main one is that they are expected to dress modestly and smartly for all occasions and would seldom be seen in public in, say, tracksuit bottoms.

Additionally, royals do not wear real fur, with the Queen having a personal preference for faux fur.

There are more specific rules, too that have been reported. On The Royal Butler website, etiquette expert Grant Harrold notes that young male members of the royal family must only wear shorts until they reach the age of eight.

Royal women, meanwhile, should not wear tights and always wear hats to formal events unless it’s after 6pm, at which point, tiaras are required.

Coats must stay on in public and bright nail polish should be avoided. Additionally, skirts should not be above the knee.

Royal family members are also all reportedly always required to take a black outfit with them when travelling overseas in case of a death.

They must not take selfies

According to royal commentator Victoria Arbiter, members of the royal family cannot be seen taking selfies with fans. 

Arbieter toldInsider: “Royals would always rather have a personal interaction than have people clamoring for selfies”.

This is something Meghan Markle has indicated herself when she told a crowd in Nottingham in 2017: “We’re not allowed to do selfies”.

They avoid certain foods

According to Harrold, members of the royal family shold not eat shellfish when they go out in order to avoid food poisoning.

Harold told Woman & Home magazine: “It is a very sensible move to abandon having seafood when out and about on public duties. 

“We don’t want a member of the Royal family having a serious reaction to food poisoning, especially if she is on an overseas tour.” 

They cannot go to bed before the Queen

According to former private secretary to the Queen, Sir William Heseltine, it is considered bad etiquette to go to sleep before HRH.

Writing in his book The Royals in Australia, Mr Heseltine notes how the late Princess Diana found this rule particularly difficulty. 

“For Diana the long royal evenings were agony,” he writes.

“There’d be an hour or so in the sitting room of everyone sitting around making conversation.

“And Diana was driven to such extremes that she’d excuse herself and go to bed, which was thought to be rather bad form, going to bed before the Queen.”

They must sit in a certain way

According to Beaumont Etiquette, royal women must not sit with their legs crossed at the knee.

Instead, they are advised to keep their knees together and cross their ankles, a pose known as “the duchess slant” given how the Duchess of Cambridge often sits like this in public with her legs slightly slanted to one side.

They must walk behind the Queen

Whenever the royal family is part of a procession, they are required to enter in order of precedence.

This means that they must walk into the room in order or who is in line to the throne next. This order is: Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and so on.

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