The British Royal Family’s Strangest Duties And Rules

Being a member of the British Royal family seems like a fun time, but they have many responsibilities. From meetings to charities to speeches, a royal’s day is packed. They even have some responsibilities that most people wouldn’t expect.

For instance, did you know that Royals cannot share their political opinions? Or that they are required to donate to charity? You might even be surprised by the common words they cannot say in public. Here are the strangest royal duties and rules.

They Must Attend 2,000 Events Each Year

The Royal family watchs the fly-past from the balcony of Buckingham Palace following the Trooping The Colour ceremony.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

It’s no secret that Royals are busybodies. But did you know that all of them attend at least 2,000 events each year? These events are scheduled around eight weeks in advance, and many are listed on their website.

Along with holiday celebrations, the royal family participates in charity events, garden parties, presenting awards, changing the guard, and more. And that’s just in the UK! In 2019 alone, Prince Harry attended 108 international events as well.

They Have To Own The Most Expensive Cars, Planes, And Boats

Jack Brooksbank and Princess Eugenie drive out of Windsor Castle in nice cars.
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

The British Royal family is 18 times richer than the Belgian Royalty and 29 times richer than the Spanish monarchy. Because of this, they pay a lot for expensive cars, clothes, and outings.

Deborah Mitchell, the facialist of Duchess Camilla, told Insider that Royals have “the best cars, yachts, and restaurants.” It is not just a perk; it’s a requirement. You will never see the Royal family in a busted car because they have to show their status.

They Cannot Share Their Political Opinions

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex makes a speech as he visits a Justice Desk initiative in South Africa.
Samir Hussein/WireImage
Samir Hussein/WireImage

Surprisingly, the Royal family is not allowed to share their political opinions outside of the palace. The official monarchy website states, “As Head of State The Queen has to remain strictly neutral with respect to political matters.”

Many believe that the Royals’ political opinions would sway the public, Commonwealth, and Parliament. Other family members are not held to the same strict standards, but they still do not declare their political preference for the same reason.

They Cannot Vote

A person with an umbrella walks toward a polling station.
NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP via Getty Images
ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

In August 2020, Meghan Markle revealed that Prince Harry has never been able to vote in general elections. This is common. Royal family members are forbidden from voting in any election, especially in the UK.

According to the UK government, it is not illegal for a Royal to vote. However, it is considered unconstitutional, especially for the Queen. She has not voted since her coronation in 1953, and many other Royals (especially senior members) follow her suit.

They Work With Hundreds Of Charities

Duchess Kate Middleton speaks at the Place2Be Wellbeing in Schools charity event.
Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images
Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

Charity work is an essential part of being a Royal. The Royal Family has links to hundreds of charities, both national and international. The Queen alone is a patron of 510 charities, and the entire family supports 2,415 charities in the United Kingdom.

The Royal family has many responsibilities to these charities. They will give speeches, present awards, open new centers, and work hands-on. Their attendance garners attention for these organizations and helps them raise more money.

…And They Have To Donate, Too

Prince William and Prince Harry play with a cheetah when they visit the Mokolodi Education Centre.
Samir Hussein/WireImage
Anwar Hussein/WireImage

Every year, the Queen donates 25% of the Crown Estate’s profits to these organizations, which added up to $107.1 million in 2019. In fact, Queen Elizabeth II has donated more to charity than any other monarch in history. According to The Guardian, she has raised $1.8 billion throughout her rule.

It’s no surprise, then, that the rest of the Royal family is expected to donate. Prince Charles is well-known for investing his time in charities, even starting a few of his own: The Prince’s Trust and Plant Heritage.

They (Or Rather, Their Employees) Respond To Fan Mail

Meghan Markle writes at a desk.
Daniel Leal-Olivas – WPA Pool/Getty Images
Daniel Leal-Olivas – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Did you know that Royals have to respond to fan mail? More specifically, they appoint an employee to answer the letters. That way, the Royals get to read most fan mail, but they do not have to spend time writing responses and mailing them.

Queen Elizabeth tells a lady-in-waiting what she would say, so each letter receives a personal response from the monarch. In 2019, Meghan Markle even responded to an American fan, with the letter written by the head of general correspondence for royals, Claudia Spens.

They Cannot Say “Common” Words

Princess Diana makes a speech announcing her resignation from public duties, 1993.
Jayne Fincher/Getty Images
Jayne Fincher/Getty Images

It’s no surprise that Royals must follow a certain manner of speech. Notably, they cannot use slang, referred to by the Crown as “common speech.” Unsightly words like “toilet” and “bathroom” are off-limits, but the list also gets weirder.

Royals cannot use the words “perfume,” “couch,” “living room,” “tea,” or “pregnant.” Instead, they replace them with more “sophisticated” terms such as “scent,” “sofa,” “drawing-room,” or “expecting.” They can’t even say certain polite words such as “pardon.”

No Queen, No Parliament

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip lead the congregation to open Parliament.
Toby Melville – WPA Pool/Getty Images
Toby Melville – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Some people believe that the Queen is only a status symbol and that Parliament holds all the real power. This isn’t necessarily true. For one thing, Parliament sessions cannot begin until Queen Elizabeth opens it. The monarch must open Parliament by addressing both Houses with a speech drafted by the Government.

The Queen can also dissolve Parliament if she sees fit. And if Parliament approves a bill, it has to go through the Queen. The monarch is the final step before a bill becomes law.

During Parliament, The Queen Must Wear Specific Clothing

Queen Elizabeth sits on the throne during the opening of Parliament while wearing ceremonial robes and a crown.
Alastair Grant – WPA Pool/Getty Images
Alastair Grant – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Every May, Queen Elizabeth opens Parliament. Along with her required speech, she has to wear a royal garb. She wears ceremonial robes and the Imperial State Crown, which has 3,000 diamonds, 270 pearls, 17 sapphires, and 11 emeralds.

The crown was commissioned by her father, George VI. However, sometimes the Queen will not wear the crown. In 2019, she wore a much lighter tiara, which allowed her to look up and down from her written speech without it falling off.

Their Days Are Packed

Charles, Prince of Wales waves to the crowds at Bridlington Harbour.
Anna Gowthorpe – WPA Pool /Getty Images
Anna Gowthorpe – WPA Pool /Getty Images

During an interview with Insider, royal photographer Chris Jackson talked about how busy the Royals are. “[Prince Charles] often has eight engagements a day, and doesn’t have lunch—so that means I don’t either,” he said.

Royals are constantly hopping from one engagement to the other. They are also constantly socializing; they have to talk to the press, respond to interviews, shake hands with fans, etc. While being royalty seems glamorous, it is a lot more work than most people think.

Royals Must Accept Most Gifts

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, accepts a gift of tap shoes from producer Michael Linnet.
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

Members of the Royal family receive thousands of gifts every year from fans. For instance, Harry and Meghan got over 100 teddy bears before Prince Archie was even born. The Royals have to accept all of these gifts, even if they end up anonymously sending them to a charity or friend later.

There is one exception here: Royals cannot accept gifts from businesses or organizations, and they cannot take anything over £150. Essentially, Royals cannot accept gifts if they are expected to do something in return.

The Queen Manages Only Part Of The Commonwealth

While visiting India, the Queen prepares a speech during a banquet with Mrs Gandhi.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

The Commonwealth of Nations is a collection of 54 member states, most of which used to be territories of the British Empire. Queen Elizabeth is in charge of the Commonwealth. She personally heads 16 member states, including Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

Commonwealth states operate independently of the Queen. However, she still has responsibilities such as appointing ministers and ambassadors. She will also personally meet with these ambassadors to unify and advise them on international matters.

They Host International Leaders

Queen Elizabeth meets Michelle and Barak Obama in the White House.
Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images
Lefteris Pitarakis – WPA Pool/Getty Images

One of the Royal family’s duties is to host government leaders from around the world. These leaders visit Buckingham Palace, and the Royals themselves will greet and sometimes eat with them.

For instance, when President Joe Biden entered office in January 2021, Queen Elizabeth immediately arranged to meet him and members of the Group of Seven in June. Another example is in 2019 when the Queen hosted a reception for NATO leaders in Buckingham Palace. She met all of them personally.

The Queen Approves All Proposals And Wedding Dresses

Catherine Middleton waves to the crowds as her sister and Maid of Honour Pippa Middleton holds her wedding dress.
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

What did Prince Harry, Prince William, and Princess Beatrice’s engagements have in common? They all had to ask the Queen for permission. The tradition dates back to The Royal Marriages Act 1772. After the Queen approves, the couple may announce their engagement.

But that’s not all. Queen Elizabeth has to approve every wedding dress before the bride can wear it. The bride can pick a dress, but if the Queen does not agree, the bride will have to choose another one.

They Prepare State Banquets Over A Year In Advance

Members of the 2008 Nobel laureate attend a royal Banquet at Buckingham.
OLIVIER MORIN/AFP via Getty Images
POOL/ Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images

State Banquets are dinner parties hosted by the head of state or other members of the government, which includes the Royal family. Since becoming the head of state in 1952, Queen Elizabeth has hosted 152 State Banquets.

These banquets require at least a year of planning. The Master of the Household attends most duties, although Royals have to approve menus, decor, seating plans, and more. On D-Day in 2019, Buckingham Palace sat 170 guests for a single State Banquet.

The Queen Bestows Honors

West Indian cricketer Garfield Sobers receives a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.
Serge Lemoine/Getty Images
Serge Lemoine/Getty Images

The Queen is in charge of bestowing honors upon people to thank them for their service. It’s not just knighthood; honors also include dames, various medals, and members of Royal Orders. Twice a year, on New Year’s Day and her birthday, the Queen bestows honors.

Queen Elizabeth also gives honors to members of the Royal family. Duchess Kate Middleton received the Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in June 2019. Prince Harry became a Knight Commander of the order in 2015.

Why The Queen Has Secret Doors

Queen Elizabeth II holds a private audience with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Buckingham Palace.
Dominic Lipinski – WPA Pool/Getty Images
Dominic Lipinski – WPA Pool/Getty Images

When Queen Elizabeth greets guests at Buckingham Palace, she doesn’t enter through the front door or hallway. She has secret doors and passageways that connect her living quarters to the palace’s center. For her guests, it seems like she appears out of nowhere.

Most believe that secret passages are installed for security reasons. Some speculate that a secret door lies behind a mirror or painting, although nobody truly knows except for the Queen and her guards.

Everyone Embarks On Royal Tours

Kate Middleton dances with women during a ceremony the the royal tour of the Far East.
Samir Hussein/WireImage
Samir Hussein/WireImage

During Royal Tours, Royals visit several other countries to act as ambassadors, improve relations, and soothe tensions. Usually, the princes and duchesses embark on these trips; the Queen rarely travels nowadays. Royal Tours require at least a year of planning.

Traditionally, Royal Tours would span for months, but these days they only last around two weeks. The Royal’s personal team schedules events, venues, gifts, and wardrobes. During these trips, the Royals will spend time with officials, locals, and celebrities.

The Royal Family Cannot Go To Bed Before The Queen

Queen Elizabeth II attends a nighttime movie premiere in 1960.
Fox Photos/Getty Images
Fox Photos/Getty Images

One surprising royal rule dictates the family’s bedtime. When Meghan Markle became the Duchess of Sussex, she discovered that nobody could go to bed before the Queen. And Queen Elizabeth II is a night owl; she often stays up until midnight!

Reportedly, even Princess Diana struggled to stay awake as late as the Queen. Not even Prince Philip could rest early. As you can probably imagine, many Royals are not a fan of this rule.

Heirs Cannot Fly Together

Prince George waves from the cockpit of an airplane.
Samir Hussein/WireImage
Samir Hussein/WireImage

When Royal families travel, heirs are not allowed to fly together. For instance, Prince Charles, Prince William, and their kids have to take separate planes. This rule guarantees that, if one plane crashes, the Crown will not be out of heirs.

In recent years, the Queen has relaxed this rule because air travel is becoming safer. In 2014, Kate Middleton flew with nine-month-old Prince George for the first time. That said, Prince George took his own plane when he became older.

When The Queen Stops Eating, Everyone Else Does Too

Queen Elizabeth II eats during a banquet.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

If you are lucky enough to have dinner with the Queen, then you must follow a strange etiquette rule. When the Queen starts eating, everyone else begins. And when the Queen finished, everyone else is finished too!

Darren McGrady, who was a royal chef for 11 years, says that the Queen was “not a foodie.” She often eats the same dinners, and she won’t eat a lot. So guests might have to get more food afterward.

Couples Must Restrain From Public Affection

Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan stand with King Tupou VI and Queen NanasipauÔu TukuÔaho of Tonga.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Royal couples follow strict rules surrounding public affection. During formal events, they must refrain from PDA to appear professional and not make any guests uncomfortable. That is why you’ll see Royals appearing distant and keeping their hands to themselves.

However, it seems that this rule only applies to formal events. During informal events, couples can display a bit more affection, explains royal etiquette expert Myka Meier. Learning how to appear “professional” is a large part of being a Royal.

When Women Have To Wear Hats

Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie wear hats on Easter Sunday.
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Have you ever wondered why Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle wear hats all the time? It is a royal rule. Since the 1950s, royal women have been required to wear hats during all formal occasions. These include Christmas, Easter, royal horse racing, weddings, and more.

This is just one of the wardrobe rules that Royals have to follow. Most royal fashion reflects 20th-century etiquette for the upper class. For example, young boys such as Prince George cannot wear pants until they turn seven.

On Overseas Trips, They Cannot Eat Shellfish Or Rare Meats

The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge meet with local chefs who are cooking oysters.
Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images
Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images

Royals follow strict food rules, especially while traveling. One of the most notorious is that they are not allowed to eat shellfish. Why? It is apparently done to avoid food poisoning. The BBC reported that shellfish has a higher risk of food poisoning than other foods.

This rule extends to other foods, such as rare meats that the Royals encounter abroad. If a Royal gets food poisoning, it will not only appear bad, but it would mess up their schedules for the next few days.

When A Birth Happens, The Queen Is The First To Know

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan pose for a photo with their newborn baby son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
DOMINIC LIPINSKI/AFP via Getty Images
DOMINIC LIPINSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Pregnancies among Royals are a big deal. But when the mother gives birth, the Queen is always the first to know. If she is not at the hospital, a royal aide will give her an encrypted code to tell her that the baby has been born. Senior members of the Royal family will also be told right after the Queen.

As you might imagine, the paparazzi buzzes during the birth of a new royal baby. Telling the Queen first will allow her to form a press response for the busied parents.

Royals Always Travel With An All-Black Outfit

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands attend the annual Remembrance Sunday.
Carl Court/Getty Images
Carl Court/Getty Images

Whenever a Royal travels, they have to pack an all-black outfit. According to The Independent, Royals do this to prepare for a possible death. If a family member passes away during a trip, everyone will have the proper attire available for a funeral.

Believe it or not, this rule isn’t just for the Royal family. Newscasters, stylists, photographers, and personal aids all must bring a black outfit if they are traveling for a royal event.

Royals Enter Rooms In A Certain Order

The Royal family gets ready to enter Buckingham Palace in order.
DOMINIC LIPINSKI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
DOMINIC LIPINSKI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

For Royals, even walking into a room feels like a duty. During most formal events, Royals must enter based on their ranking, called the Order of Precedence. First, the Queen enters, then Prince Charles, Duchess Kate, Prince Harry, Duchess Meghan, and so on.

That said, some events do not require the Order of Precedence. Royal historian Marlene Koenig told BAZAAR that the Order of Precedence only occurs at diplomatic, state, and formal events. Thank goodness for the Royals!

They Cannot Take Autographs Or Selfies

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall greets local residents as in Northern Ireland.
PETER MUHLY/AFP via Getty Images
PETER MUHLY/AFP via Getty Images

If you’re hoping to meet a Royal for an autograph, you’re out of luck. Royals are prohibited from giving autographs to anyone. This is a security measure to ensure that nobody will create a forgery of a Royal’s signature.

What about selfies or photos? Although Royals are encouraged to meet people, they cannot take pictures with them. First off, Royals cannot make physical contact with fans; second, they cannot turn their back on the Queen or the rest of the family.

The Queen’s Death Will Ban Humor

Queen Elizabeth II looks out from a window.
POOL/ Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images
POOL/ Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images

Someday, Queen Elizabeth II will pass away. When that happens, the other Royals will shut down everything in the United Kingdom for at least 12 days. Banks will close, the stock markets will come to a standstill, and the country will likely lose many pounds.

On top of that, British TV channels will stop airing humorous shows. BBC plans on canceling all comedies in the 12 days following her death. In essence, the entire country mourns.