We all know that members of the royal family have to follow some pretty 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. But she has been known to sneakily break protocol every now and again. You’d have to, right?
Keep Skirts Decent
A lot of royal 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 monarch. Plus, like anyone, royal women want to avoid any uncomfortable wardrobe-related moments, like their skirt blowing up in the wind. Kate has actually had a couple of accidents where this is concerned.
So, there’s a sneaky trick to help avoid this. 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?”
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. But what about tiaras? In certain circles, tiaras are a symbol of marriage. The duchess is required to wear a tiara at specific royal events.
If she is invited to an event that takes place both indoors and after 6:00 p.m., there's a change from the regular hat rule. Royal ladies can now each switch from a hat to every nine-year-old girl’s favorite accessory: a sparkly tiara.
A female member of the royal family must even sit a certain way. She should always sit with her legs together, but they shouldn't be crossed at the top. Instead, she must keep her thighs pressed together and slant her legs to the side. Second, her chin should be parallel to the ground. This way, she looks confident, but she doesn’t come agross as arrogant. And third, of course, she must be careful about not showing cleavage.
Showing too much cleavage is a no-go for royal women. So, you'll see them wearing high-necked shirts and dresses and modest blouses. No low-cut necklines here! Kate sometimes uses a clutchbag to keep things modest.
No Colored Nail Polish
The royal women are bound by many a royal fashion rule, and some of them are very specific. None of the female royals – or the male ones, for that matter – are ever likely to be snapped wearing brightly colored nail polish, as the Queen reportedly considered it vulgar. Similarly, a royal woman is expected to stick to subtle colors when it comes to her makeup and hair, too.
So, you're unlikely to see Kate sporting bright-red lipstick or blue eyeshadow — at least in public. And she probably won't be trying out any outlandish hairstyles, either. Sorry, no pink hair dye, Kate!
No Fur 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 even had a fur piece removed from an old outfit, so we know royals take this rule seriously.
Presumably, faux fur is okay for Kate and the other royals — just not the real deal. And we have to say, we’re in favor of this particular rule!
Surprising Royal Travel Rules
There’s one particularly morbid rule that has been in place ever since Queen Elizabeth 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 mourning upon their return to Britain.
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, first-in-line Will tends to take this rule with a grain of salt, as he and Kate often fly together with George (second), Charlotte (third), and Louis (fourth) as a family.
No Public Affection
Having to follow strict fashion and travel rules sounds difficult enough, but other regulations govern Kate’s life, too. For instance, she’s not supposed to show affection to her husband in public. Even holding hands is considered fairly taboo. Why? Simply because the royal family consider themselves to be working when they’re out and about, and public displays of affection aren’t very businesslike. And this rule extends to nicknames, too.
Royal watchers and the tabloids love to say “Lady Di” and “Wills and Kate,” but such informalities don’t fly for the royals themselves. Royals must go by their proper names at all times in public — like Prince William, not Wills; no cute, affectionate nicknames allowed!
Selfies Are Out
It's not often that you see Kate taking a selfie. It's not exactly known for sure why royals aren't really meant to take selfies; it's probably down to them wanting to have control over where and when photos of them are published. It does happen every now and again, but it’s usually an over-zealous fan holding the camera. In general, though? Don't try and sweet-talk a royal into taking a photo with you!
And autographed photos are definitely a no-no — but for a more serious reason: the royals aren’t allowed to sign anything for fear that someone could forge their signature. Smart move!
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 Middleton is presented with a gift, she is duty-bound to accept. It would be horrible manners to decline! We can't imagine all the random presents the Duchess of Cornwall has received over the years from fans. Our question is: where do they end up? Is there a room at Buckingham Palace filled with bizarre, forgotten gifts?
Fun fact: the royal family actually have a pretty unexpected tradition when it comes to giving gifts themselves. Every year at Christmas, the royals enjoy giving one aother funny, gag gifts. "One year, Harry reportedly gave the Queen a shower cap emblazoned with the phrase, 'Ain't life a [explicit],' which she loved," bestselling book Finding Freedom claimed.
Color Rules Apply
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. Speaking of colors, the Queen always wore bright colors when out and about — for a very specific reason.
That's because the Queen wanted to stand out at public events. So, she would wear colors that probably few other people at a royal occasion would be wearing: bright turquoise, deep purple, fuschia. Makes sense.
She Must Obey the Curtseying Order
Royal curtseying etiquette is vital, too. Kate is expected to curtsy to the British monarch whenever the situation calls for it. 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. There's a special order for walking into a room, too...
More astute fans of the British monarchy may have noticed that the Windsors arrive at events in a particular order. And 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.
Food Rules Must Be Followed
Having a nice sit-down dinner with the family is also complicated. Allegedly, the royal family generally aren't allowed to eat shellfish, as it could cause allergic reactions — a risk they just won't take. And the Queen reportedly used to hate garlic, so that was 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.
Using utensils correctly is something the royal family take very seriously. For starters, knives are held in the right hand, while forks should be held in the left with the prongs curving downwards. Kate and other members of the family aren’t allowed to let cutlery screech across plates, either. Can you imagine?
Apparently, the royals have to follow very strict rules when it comes to using napkins, too. Royal dinner guests are always 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. So, if you're a messy eater, we suggest not attending a royal dinner event — or maybe taking some dining etiquette classes first...
If, during a dinner function, Kate needs a bathroom break, she has to be discreet. Royal etiquette dictates that she merely has to say “excuse me” without further explanation of where she’s going. She doesn’t want to be vulgar, after all!
She Must Tell Her Baby News to the Monarch First
As the head of state and of the family, the King or 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 line to speak to his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, as soon as Prince George was born. And did you know that royals also have to tell the monarch before popping the question, too?
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 propose to their partner. Godspeed, future brides and grooms!
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 they probably don't vote. While there’s reportedly nothing explicitly banning royal family members from voting, some or all of them choose not to. That's because the royal family should be seen as neutral by the British public; it would be considered unconstitutional for them to vote in an election.
So while it isn’t against any written laws, it is understood that as ceremonial heads of state, the British royals have a duty to keep politics separate from royal life.
There's 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. There are more secret signals used by royals, too. The Queen’s various handbags and clutches looked nice, but they also served an important purpose. She used them to subtly send out signals to her waiting staff! If you were ever lucky enough to dine with the Queen and you kept an eye on her bag, you might have seen her do a few things with it.
If the Queen placed it on the table, it apparently meant she wanted the dinner wrapped up within five minutes. And if the Queen was bored of a conversation and wanted to get out of it, she would reportedly place her bag on the floor or change the hand that was holding it.
Kate Must Stop Eating When the King Is Finished Eating
According to insiders, royal etiquette has it that when the King or Queen decides that they have had enough food at the table, everyone else dining with them must also drop their forks. Apparently it is considered monstrously impolite to keep munching once the monarch has finished their meal. So, when Charles is finished eating, so is Kate — and everyone else. Plus, for safety reasons, the Windsors won’t ever 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 took it a step further during her reign, having dishes selected for her at random at official banquets.
Royals Can't Play Monopoly
Okay, so this isn't an official rule that's written down or anything. But it sounds like the royals were once not allowed to play Monopoly! And no, it's not about politics or money... it's about family competiton! 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 playing it for fear of causing a family row.
“We’re not allowed to play Monopoly at home,” Prince Andrew said. “It gets too vicious.” We're dying to know more! Which royal family members got too competitive?
Strict Royal Wedding Rules
It's probably little surprise that royal weddings are dictated by some pretty intense rules. When millions are watching you walk down the aisle, things have to go perfectly. One strict rule? 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.
Then, after tying the knot, royal couples are presented with a small hitch. Each is forced to take on a new formal name. So, Wills and Kate became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after their wedding, while Charles and Diana became the Prince and Princess of Wales after theirs.
The King or Queen Can’t Sit on Any Throne but Their 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. There is not an actual law or anything preventing this, but it's just good practice. And it still holds fast today. Hilariously, it even extends to pretend thrones. When Elizabeth II visited the Game of Thrones set, she actually passed on a chance to perch upon the Iron Throne.
So, as it turns out, King Charles can’t just sit on any throne he feels like. And Kate certainly wouldn't be allowed to sit on his throne if she wanted to!
No One Can Turn Their Back on the Monarch
You may consider yourself to have finished your converstaion with King Charles, but he may not be finished with you. And it would look very bad indeed if someone walked away from the King when he wasn't finished talking to them. To avoid any confusion, then, one must never turn one’s back on the monarch, and one must always wait for them to turn away first instead. Got it?
So next time you see Kate interacting with King Charles, notice that she probably won't turn her back on him. Charles will always be the one to turn away when their interaction is finished.
She Must Baptize Her Children
The Queen insisted that 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. We can only imagine that King Charles will continue this rule with his reign — at least for now. And that means that Kate has been following this rule, too.
Yes, Kate and William's children have all been baptized. Royal baptisms are usually pretty public affairs, although Meghan and Harry actually chose to have a private ceremony for Archie.
Etiquette Training Is a Must
According to etiquette expert Myka Meier, the royal children all take etiquette classes very young. “Etiquette training for the royals starts as soon as they’re old enough to sit at a table,” Meier says. “They are raised having formal meals, going to formal events, and practicing everything from voice levels to dressing appropriately to even, of course, how to curtsy and bow.” And for high-profile events, this training is all the more important.
For example, ahead of Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle in 2018, Prince George and Princess Charlotte — as well as some other royal children — were trained and prepped to make sure they were on their best behavior.
Royals Should Be in Uniform When Appropriate
If you watched the weddings of Prince William and Prince Harry, you may have noticed 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: Kate may not have served in the military, but Princess Anne, for example, is an honorary admiral and wears the uniform.
Kate's sons, meanwhile, also have a dress code to abide by. Royal boys are required to wear shorts in public. This is down to tradition. It stems from the fact that pants on young boys used to be viewed as... middle class. Heaven forbid!
Jeans Are Only Acceptable Sometimes
Members of the Royal family, including Kate, 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 friends.
According to etiquette consultant Diana Mather, who spoke to BBC News in 2017, “Many places will not allow jeans as they are still seen as very casual wear. So it is better to play safe for both sexes.” She added, “But if the duchess is outside walking the dogs for example, then jeans are fine.”
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.
When a royal baby leaves the hospital, they’re wrapped in a luxury hand-knitted shawl from the company G.H. Hurt & Son. The firm has been providing the royal family with baby blankets for more than 60 years. And chances are pretty high that future royal babies will also be using these garments; they are very nice shawls, after all.
Wedge in the Family
Kate has often been spotted in wedge heels, but never when the Queen was around. And there’s a good reason for that. According to an anonymous source who spoke to Vanity Fair magazine in 2015, “The Queen isn’t a fan of wedged shoes. She really doesn’t like them, and it’s well known among the women in the family.” Kate, the Duchess of Cornwall, and her fellow royals also have a great shoe hack.
Kate apparently wears shoes that are one or two sizes too big! That way, she can avoid blisters much more easily. And yes, people might notice that the shoes are a little too large, but being comfortable when walking around is more important!
Royal Babies Have Multiple Names
Another baby-related tradition that Kate Middleton probably had to bear in mind when she was expecting her royal children: multiple names! One middle name isn’t nearly enough for a royal, it seems. Just ask Prince William Arthur Philip Louis, or Prince Charles Philip Arthur George. And yes, as you can no doubt tell, the British royal family reuse names a lot. For example, Princess Charlotte’s full name is Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.
And we all know that Harry and Meghan's daughter, Lilibet, is named after the late Queen Elizabeth II's nickname, which is a sweet tribute.
Bodyguards for the Children
It’s terrible to think that your child may need a bodyguard to protect them, but that’s a sad fact of life for the members of the royal family. William and Harry had bodyguards, for instance, and now so does the new generation. It's thought that George has at least two who accompany him to school. And it’s proven to be a wise move, as there really has been a threat made against the young prince. Better safe than sorry.
In fact, The Mirror has reported that each member of the royal family has five security people protecting each of them at all times. Five!
Kate's Kids Are to Learn Multiple Languages
As if they weren't under enough pressure already, the royal kids are also expected to be bilingual! It's another royal protocol to add to the list: every member of the royal family must learn a foreign language — that is, if they want to follow the standard set by the rest of their family. Even the youngest royals have to learn another language — be it French, or Spanish, or another one.
King Charles and Prince William both speak French — as did the late Queen Elizabeth — and Kate, Duchess of Cornwall, is teaching little Prince George and Princess Charlotte how to speak Spanish apparently.
No Tiaras for Unmarried Royals
Royal tiaras are beautiful, of course, but good luck getting your hands on one unless you’re a married royal. In 2019 former butler Grant Harrold told Insider, “Traditionally, tiaras are a sign of marriage. So, typically they could be worn by a bride on her wedding day. Or after she is married, she can wear one to any white tie event.” Kate Middleton, like several other royals, wore a tiara for the first time at her wedding. After that, she stuck to tradition and only wore them sparingly.
She wears impressive pieces like the famous Lover’s Knot Tiara for state banquets and the like — but she does so very carefully. Fun fact: to prevent a tiara from falling off, often it’s sewn right into the hair!
Coats Stay on in Public
No matter the weather or the temperature, a royal must always smile and carry on no matter what they’re wearing. If you’re a duchess like Kate and you happen to have on a heavy coat and then you enter a building, there’s to be no removing it until you’re completely out of view. It would be considered unbefitting to take a coat off in public! So, you’re very unlikely to ever see Kate photographed in the act of taking a coat off.
And no matter what the circumstances, the coat stays on. Even if they're accompanied by other royals, or if the weather suddenly switches from freezing cold to roasting hot, they shouldn't take their coat off until they're in private.
No Tiara Swapping
You're not likely to see anyone else wearing Kate's tiaras anytime soon. That's because royal women aren't allowed to let someone "borrow" any of their tiaras. While the royals do pass down prized headgear through the family, there are strict stipulations about who gets to wear them. When family members wear a specific headpiece, it belongs to them for good. No swapping! However, royals can choose not to wear a tiara that's been gifted to them.
You probably won't see any royal children wearing tiaras, either. It's not a law set in stone as such, but it's generally believed that tiaras are reserved for adult royal women.
Master the Royal Wave
On entering the royal family, we imagine that Kate had to nail down the famous "Windsor wave." It's the royal family's go-to move when greeting the public. "You can recognise a royal wave immediately. It's a vertical hand with a slight twist from the wrist," says royal commentator Victoria Arbiter. And according to experts, there are a couple of reasons why the royals have to learn to wave like this.
Firstly, this gentler wave motion is actually meant to protect the royals from injury, since waving so often can strain their wrists! Plus, it's just generally seen as more elegant. Arbiter says that it's "a classy affair that oozes decorum but doesn't get too excitable." Noted.
It’s almost mandatory in the royal family that all women have to wear pantyhose and never bare their legs. Unfortunately royal women also usually wear high heels, and even the best stiletto-wearer in the world probably can’t handle walking around in them all the time while also having to wear smooth, decidedly slippery pantyhose. Luckily, help is at hand. And Kate is here to help you out with this one.
According to The Sun, Kate wears pantyhose that have a little sticky pad built into the heel, so she never slips out of her shoes! While apparently her favorite brand of these come from the store John Lewis, you can buy them on Amazon.
Don't Mix up Outfits
It’s the age-old question: how do you keep your best clothes organized once you have them? And obviously that’s even more difficult when you’re a royal with a huge wardrobe. A fashion faux pas could be devastating to one's reputation! Kate and William actually made headlines in 2012 when they accidentally wore Cook Islands outfits to a Solomon Islands dinner. So Kate now has a system for this sort of thing.
Apparently, Kate uses a color-coding system for her traveling wardrobe. If something is marked yellow, it has to go to a residence, if it’s green, it’s going to a hotel, and if it’s blue, then it’s needed on the airplane. Simple and easy!
Keep Hair in Place
How do Kate and the other female royals manage to keep their hair in place all the time, you ask? When they’re out on a public engagement they have to wait around in bad weather, shake hands with countless people, and do activities, and yet their hairdos never fall apart. Well, it turns out that Kate — and presumably other royals — have a simple rule for this, and it's probably not what you think.
If you look very closely at certain pictures of Kate, you can see she’s wearing a hairnet! Yep, hairnets are a go-to for female royals in order to keep their hair looking smart.
Serious Baby Business
According to reports surrounding the births of Prince George and Princess Charlotte, the royal family has a huge medical team. And all members — 23 people in total — are sworn to secrecy. They also had to be available at a moment’s notice for three months before Kate's due dates, and none of them could say anything publicly about their work. Meanwhile, the royals don't have baby showers; it's not the done thing.
Even though being royal isn’t a job per se, the crown still gives expectant mothers exemption from their royal duties. The period differs from person to person. For example, Princess Diana had just a month off after Prince William was born, whereas Kate had five months.
No Bare Feet
Everybody’s got feet, but not everyone wants to see them. At least, that’s the royal protocol! As it seems, Kate and other royal women are meant to always wear a traditional closed-toed shoe — so no sandals or open-toed heels. Presumably, this rule only applies to when they're out in public. Hopefully, Kate is free to kick off her shoes and relax on the sofa at home!
Queen Elizabeth reportedly even had a member of staff on hand to break in her new shoes for her! So, no blistered feet for the royals. Where can we get ourselves one of those?