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The Royals Don't Give Autographs For A Pretty Outdated Reason

The rule might have outlived its usefulness.

08/15/2017 11:13 EDT | Updated 08/15/2017 11:13 EDT
UK Press via Getty Images
The Duchess Of Cambridge at The National War Memorial In Ottawa, Canada, on the first day of their visit in 2011. (Photo by POOL - UK Press\UK Press via Getty Images)

If you, like us, love to look at pictures of members of the Royal Family when they're meeting with the public, you'll see them do a variety of things: take selfies, accept bouquets, give hugs. But one thing they'll never do? Offer an autograph.

According to royal protocol, Prince William, Kate Middleton et al. don't give out autographs for fear that someone might copy and forge their signatures. According to The Royal UK blog, they're only permitted to sign royal documents.

While Prince Charles' usual response to requests for autographs is, "Sorry, they don't allow me to do that," in one recorded instance he broke the rules, giving a family whose home had been destroyed by a flood a piece of paper with his name on it, reports the Daily Mail.

Royal Family members are, of course, permitted to sign their names in guest books, as we've seen many times, including during Prince William and Duchess Catherine's recent tour of Poland and Germany this summer.

WireImage
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visits a former Nazi Germany Concentration Camp during day 2 of their Royal Tour of Poland and Germany on July 18, 2017 in Stutthof, Poland. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

It's of note, however, that when royals sign their names, they tend to write only their first names. Princess Diana's signature, for example, was the now-famous "Diana," while Kate has followed suit, penning "Catherine" on her official visits.

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Senatsbarkasse guestbook with the signatures of Prince Charles and Princess Diana from June 11, 1987, as well as an official photo of the couple. (Frederika Hoffmann/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

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The message written by Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and also signed by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is seen in the book of condolences at the French embassy in London following last week's attacks in Paris on November 17, 2015. (NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)

Of course, a first name is not sufficient as an official signature on, say, financial documents, which is likely why the royals have chosen this methodology when putting their name to paper.

But that said, there are plenty of famous (and arguably, wealthier and more powerful) people who give out their autographs without hesitation. And the rule, which was likely created to prevent forgeries of the sort that allow people to lay claim to things that aren't theirs, came from a time when communication wasn't available at the tap of a few buttons.

So while we're well aware we're in no position to change hundreds of years of royal protocol, we will suggest that the harm in giving out an autograph to those who ask is fairly minimal in 2017.

Besides, if this video of Meghan Markle is anything to go on, the hoped-for engagement of the actress to Prince Harry will require a whole lot of gathering up of glossies.

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