Strict rules the royal family has to follow

If you thought living under your parents' roof was tough, it has nothing on the rules by which the royal family must abide. Known for their centuries-old customs, Britain's ruling family has rules about everything from the way women should sit to how they should dress their children. They even have specific clothes they must pack when they travel, and there's a reason why the gender of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's baby has been kept a huge secret. It all boils down to their traditions.

While Queen Elizabeth II and most members of her royal family pride themselves on playing by the rules, though they've become more flexible in recent years. The exception to the rule(-followers), however, has to be the late Princess Diana, who was notorious for marching to the beat of her own drum. In just one example of royal defiance, she made a huge statement when it was revealed that her children, Prince Harry and Prince William, would use disposable diapers instead of the traditional cloth diapers that the long line of high-born predecessors had favored. 

Still, there are so many royal practices that won't be going anywhere anytime soon. Keep reading to find out the strict rules the royal family has to follow.

No gender reveal parties for the royals

When a royal announces they are expecting a bundle of joy, it sends the entire world into a frenzy. But the public gets even more excited as they try to guess the gender of the royal bun in the oven.

According to E! News, it's not necessarily by choice that Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle have remained mum when it comes to announcing their babies' genders. The royal family actually prefers to keep the information a secret, opting to turn the pregnancy into a fun event where the public can guess whether the mom-to-be will be having a boy or a girl. The public gets a kick out of looking for certain clues, because if a pregnant royal is all decked out in blue, she's surely having a baby boy, right?!

There's always a chance that one member of the monarchy may break tradition and reveal their baby's gender prior to the birth, but as of this writing, this is one rule they've been sticking to.

Do not pass go!

The British royal family is one athletic bunch. Princes Harry and Prince William are quite skilled in the game of polo, a sport that their dad, Princes Charles, played for 40 years before retiring in 2005, the Telegraph reports. With his time on the polo field coming to a close, and news that Prince Harry and Prince William would be scaling back in their participation, according to Vanity Fair, perhaps they could fuel their competitive nature by indulging in a few board games instead? Well, any board game except for Monopoly. Here's why.

Monopoly — the real estate-themed board game — has been providing countless hours of funs for families worldwide since since 1935, all families except for the royal family, apparently. The game seems harmless to most of us, but when Prince Andrew, Duke of York was gifted the game by the Leeds Building Society in 2008, he admitted that he and his royal family members weren't allowed to play it. The Telegraph quoted him as saying the competition would be so fierce, causing a the friendly board game to instantly turn "too vicious."

The duchess slant is a must

Most women don't put too much thought into the way they relax on a chair or a couch, but the women of the British royal family are reportedly trained on all things, including proper etiquette and they way they should plop down on a piece of furniture. Myka Meier, the founder of Beaumont Etiquette, showed People the proper way royal ladies should sit, which is also known as the "duchess slant," — a term created by Beaumont Etiquette and named after the Duchess of Cambridge, according to the publication.

Instead of crossing their legs at the knees, Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle, Princess Diana, and Camilla Parker Bowles have been photographed with their legs kept together and crossed at the ankles. The duchess slant also includes leaning their body to the side to make sure they have perfect posture. It also gives the illusion of elongated legs and ensures that when they're wearing dresses or skirts, photographers and video cameras will only capture the most modest photos of the royal ladies. 

Eat like the queen

Queen Elizabeth may prefer to eat Kellogg's cereal for breakfast, her former royal chef told Marie Claire, but when dinner time rolls around, she pulls out all the stops. Whether it's a commonwealth dinner or a feast in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee, it's cause for celebration. What most people don't realize is that these fancy-schmancy dinners can also be a very stressful time for those who aren't accustomed to dining with royalty, especially since the queen's guests must abide by strict rules.

According to Business Insider, tradition states that once the queen takes her very last bite of food, everyone else must immediately stop eating, as well. For those guests who are slow eaters, well, they better ask to borrow some of Queen Elizabeth II's tupperware to take their leftovers home in because this is one dinner-time rule that isn't budging.

Modern day guests should just be thankful they don't have to dine with the notoriously fast-eating Queen Victoria, who would woof down her food like a Hoover vacuum. Kate Hubbard, the author of Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household, told Splendid Table, "[Queen Victoria] was greedy and she gobbled. She liked her dinners to last no more than half an hour. Guests would quite often find their plates whisked away while they were still eating because once she had finished, all the plates were removed."

The royal pecking order

When the royal family steps out for a public appearance, they're not playing favsies and standing next to the family member they adore the most. According to Business Insider, the family likes to keep things in strict order, lining up in accordance with who is next in line to take over the throne, followed by their respective spouses. The publication revealed the order starts off with Queen Elizabeth II, followed by her husband, Prince Philip. Up next is Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, followed by Prince William, his wife, Kate Middleton, and so on and so forth.

Those who aren't aware of the official royal pecking order were a bit outraged when Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, made her appearance at the Queen's birthday parade, the Trooping the Colour, in June 2018. Markle was partially hidden on the balcony, lingering in the background behind her sister-in-law, Middleton, and her brother-in-law, Prince William. Her placement was later explained by Joe Little, the editor of Majesty magazine, in an interview with People. "There was no slight intended, but William being the older, more senior brother would go out [first] with his wife," Little said.

A noble dress code

Google any photo of Prince George and you'll notice he's always wearing a pair of shorts. It turns out, it has nothing to do with the royal tyke preferring to keep his legs bare. Prince George's parents, Prince William and Kate Middleton, are simply dressing him the same way all royal babies are expected to be dressed. Speaking with Harper's Bazaaretiquette expert William Hanson said that adults of the British royal family are allowed to wear trousers, but they traditionally dress their sons in shorts as a "silent class marker."

"Although times are (slowly) changing, a pair of trousers on a young boy is considered quite middle class — quite suburban. And no self-respecting aristo or royal would want to be considered suburban. Even the Duchess of Cambridge," Hanson said.

Prince George did get a break from the shorts for the first time ever (publicly, at least) when he wore a pair of black trousers to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's May 2018 wedding. And he isn't the only royal child who has his bare legs out regardless of the weather. His sister, Princess Charlotte, is also dressed according to the young female aristocrats who came before her, which includes a ton of cute little dresses. Again, there isn't a ban against girls wearing pants, but Marlene Koenig, a royal blogger, told Harper's Bazaar that little girls in the royal family are dressed in a "clean, traditional look."

Never turn your back on the queen

Things can get a little tricky when someone meets Queen Elizabeth II for the first time. That's because there are very strict rules on how to approach Her Majesty. According to Hello! magazine, it's advised to never turn your back on the queen. Why? Because "it is considered rude," the magazine reports. Even her husband, Prince Philip, walks "a few paces behind her in public," USA Today revealed.

When former United States President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama visited the queen in April 2009, they were so well-versed on royal protocol and they almost nailed their entire visit. ABC News reported the Obamas were seen "turning their backs instead on the cameras to talk to the royal couple, and facing the media only when it came time to take pictures." However, Michelle erred slightly by putting her arm around the queen, violating another perceived rule of "no touching the royals." This sent the internet abuzz until Buckingham Palace issued a statement (via HuffPost), saying the hug was "mutual" and that "We don't issue instructions on not touching the queen."

The Obamas' predominantly respectful visit starkly contrasted President Donald Trump's 2018 trip to the United Kingdom. Not only did he turn his back to the queen, he walked directly in front of her as they took a stroll to inspect the guardsmen at Windsor Castle, almost oblivious to her presence, according to the Washington Post. Tsk, tsk.

A traditional christening outfit

The same dazzling lace dress that was inspired by Queen Victoria's wedding dress has been used for royal baptisms, dating back to 1841, according to Good Housekeeping. Naturally, the original dress started to look a bit worn after being used for over a century. So, in 2004, Queen Elizabeth II hired a dressmaker to produce a carbon copy. "It was recreated in exactly the same way. Even though there was modern machinery, they had to go back to doing a lot of it by hand so there was a mix between by hand and machinery," an insider told People magazine.

The recreated frock was finished just in time for Prince Edward's son James, Viscount Severn's 2008's baptism. Five years later, Prince William and Kate Middleton's son, Prince George, donned the new and improved fancy getup, followed by his siblings, Prince Charlotte in July 2015, and Prince Louis in July 2018, according to Vogue

A bouquet of myrtle

Believe it or not, there are even rules pertaining to a royal bride's wedding bouquet. According to Harper's Bazaar, each bouquet must contain a sprig of myrtle, an "evergreen shrub." The tradition reportedly began after Prince Albert's grandmother gave Queen Victoria a myrtle plant during one of their visits. It was then planted in the Isle of Wight, according to the Telegraph, and was first used in a royal wedding when Queen Victoria's daughter, Princess Victoria, got hitched in 1858.

So what's the true significance behind the sprig of myrtle? "Myrtle's special meaning is the emblem of love and marriage," according to Glamour magazine. So, it's very fitting that it would be used on a royal bride's very special day.

Kate Middleton honored this long-standing royal family tradition by including myrtle in her bouquet for her 2011 wedding to Prince William, and Meghan Markle did the same for her May 2018 wedding to Prince Harry, Harper's Bazaar reports.

'Hands off the duchess'

During a July 2018 visit to the United Kingdom, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump sparked outrage when they "opted to shake hands with the queen instead of bowing or curtsying," according to the Washington Post. However, the notion that touching the royals is strictly off limits seems to be more of a fan concern, rather than an official decree. 

Case in point: Professional basketball player LeBron James also got a bit handsy when he placed his sweaty arm around Kate Middleton after a Cleveland Cavaliers' game in December 2014. While CNN's Piers Morgan blasted James, saying, "LeBron James, you may call yourself King James — you are not a real king. Prince William is going to be my king, that was his wife — hands off the duchess," during an episode of the Rachael Ray Show (via Cleveland.com), Buckingham Palace was less perturbed. An officer for the palace flat out told the website the royal family had a great time meeting James, and added, "there is no such thing as Royal protocol."

Okay, maybe it isn't a strict rule, but avoiding physical contact is something at least one royal, Princess Anne, does prefer. However, she offered a reasonable explanation. "We never shook hands," Princess Anne admitted in the documentary, Queen of the World (via Express). "The theory was that you couldn't shake hands with everybody, so don't start." 

The morbid outfit they can't leave home without

When traveling outside of the United Kingdom, members of the royal family must pack very specific clothing. To start, little boys must have at least five pairs of shorts in different colors in their luggage, according to the Huffington Post. And, little girls must have "no less than 10 barrettes, and the Duchess of Cambridge must have at least two pairs of beige pumps," the website stated.

Lastly, each person must also pack "a black mourning outfit" — you know, just in case someone kicks the bucket while the royal family is away from home. According to The Sun, the somber attire is to be changed into and worn as soon as they step off of the airplane. There would likely be cameras waiting, and they'll already be dressed in a respectable (and morbid) outfit to pay their respects to their loved one.

This rule was reportedly implemented after Queen Elizabeth II was visiting Kenya in February 1952 with Prince Philip, and she received the news that her father, George VI, had passed away. She didn't have a black dress in her possession, so when her plane landed, a dress was "taken on to the aircraft for the Queen to change into before she emerged down the steps," The Sun revealed. So, the queen is just looking out for her fam and making sure they're always prepared for the unexpected.

Don't speak out of turn

Not only do Queen Elizabeth II's dinner guests have to keep up with the her pace when they are chowing down at mealtime, but there are also rules as to who can speak to Her Majesty at certain times. 

At dinnertime, it's "customary for the guest of honour to sit to the right of the Queen," and she will chat with that person "during the first course of the dinner." Then, during the second course, she will chat with the person that is sitting to her left, according to Hello! magazine.

Those who aren't aware of this dinner rule can find themselves in a sticky situation, such as Formula One race star, Lewis Hamilton. The publication reported he spoke out of turn during his visit to the palace, and was reportedly told, "No, you speak that way first and I'll speak this way, and then I'll come back to you." Or, in other words: zip it, mister!