LIVING

The Royal Family Still Has To Follow These 8 Customs

So. Many. Rules.

10/19/2017 13:58 EDT | Updated 10/20/2017 10:09 EDT
Toby Melville / Reuters
Members of the Royal Family.

In September, royal watchers got a good look at Meghan Markle and Prince Harry together in public for the first time as they took in the Invictus Games in Toronto.

Not long before that, Markle, an actress who stars the TV show "Suits," discussed her beau more openly than ever before in the Vanity Fair Oct. 2017 cover story.

"We're a couple. We're in love," Markle, 36, told the mag. "I'm sure there will be a time when we will have to come forward and present ourselves and have stories to tell, but I hope what people will understand is that this is our time. This is for us. It's part of what makes it so special, that it's just ours. But we're happy. Personally, I love a great love story."

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle watch the wheelchair tennis event during the Invictus Games in Toronto, Ontario, Canada September 25, 2017.

But if the two do marry (and if the reports are right, the wedding date might already be set) and follow the royal customs that the prince's family have held to for centuries, Markle's life will change dramatically.

Even low-key royals (Harry will be sixth-in-line to the throne once the Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to her and Prince William's third child) live in the spotlight, following rules about everything down to what counts as "casual" clothing that can be worn in public.

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What might life as a royal look like, exactly? Here are eight customs and traditions still followed by the Royal Family, and the reasons behind them.

Etiquette training is a must

Basic manners and friendliness are important qualities, but they just scratch the surface of the complicated etiquette rules that members of British high society — royals in particular — are expected to follow.

Samir Hussein via Getty Images
The Duchess of Cambridge curtsies in front of the Queen.

Markle might pick up such rules as the proper way to sit (an egg's width of distance between the chair and your back), the correct way to hold a tea cup (pinch the handle's top with your thumb and index finger), and how to curtsy (subtly, but with an appropriate pause to show respect).

To hat or not to hat?

That is often the question for Queen Elizabeth, who has become known for her colourful and highly decorated collection of hats — even by already high British standards.

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Queen Elizabeth loves her hats.

According to a BBC report, etiquette requires that women in the U.K. wear hats for formal events. This isn't the norm for most of us these days, but it still is for the Queen and other royals.

Greeting a royal

The Queen is called "Your Majesty" on first greeting and then "Ma'am" thereafter, and the Duke of Edinburgh is to be first greeted with "Your Royal Highness" and then "Sir," according to the Government of Canada.

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Trainer Aiden O'Brien shakes hands with Queen Elizabeth II after winning the Hardwicke Stakes with horse Idaho.

A curtsy, bow, or handshake are all considered appropriate means of greeting a royal, based on personal comfort — and contrary to what some think, if a royal — even the Queen — presents their hand to be shaken you are more than welcome to do so.

Short pants for princes

Prince George is cute for many reasons, but one of them is that he's always seen wearing formal shorts.

POOL New / Reuters
Prince George and his adorable shorts.

This is actually another longstanding royal tradition made modern, though things have relaxed somewhat — one etiquette expert told the BBC that this tradition used to consider gowns or dresses appropriate formal wear for young princes and princesses. Things are looser nowadays and shorts are the go-to for boys.

Breaking out the tiara

A tiara is not everyday wear, even for royalty. These days this most fancy of headwear is reserved for formal occasions, such as those requiring evening dress, and only worn by married women.

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Traditionally, women take their hats off even at formal events after 6:00 p.m., which means tiaras go on (for those who ought to be wearing one, of course). The Duchess of Cambridge doesn't go for tiaras often herself, which is why when she does wear one — such as when she wore Princess Diana's favourite tiara to a diplomatic reception in 2016 — it's quite exciting to see.

Follow the Queen's lead

If Queen Elizabeth stands up, everyone else should too. If Queen Elizabeth is finished eating, no more soup for you. The Queen starts up dinner conversations by speaking to the person on her right and then switching to the one on her left during the second course. Basically, follow the Queen's lead and you'll be safe, in most cases.

Caring for the ravens

An old legend holds that the Tower of London — and the monarchy — will fall if its six resident ravens ever leave the fortress.

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Yeoman Raven Master Derrick Coyle, holds Branwen, the newest addition to the ravens at The Tower of London, after an official naming ceremony.

Sounds like superstition, but there are indeed at least six ravens who live in the fortress to this day — seven currently, for good measure, who have free roam around its precincts. Trimming their lifting feathers, making them unbalanced for flight, keeps them close to home.

In 2012, two baby ravens were born at the Tower — one of which was named Jubilee, and was ceremonially presented to the Queen by the Ravenmaster as part of the festivities to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

And what about that crown?

As for Queen Elizabeth's crown, that is reserved for only particular occasions — not least because it's heavy and uncomfortable to wear.

REUTERS FILE PHOTO / Reuters
Britain's Queen Elizabeth before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, London.

The Queen's best-known crown was made for Queen Victoria's coronation in 1838, and is kept under lock and key in the Tower of London when not in use. The Queen wears it for the annual opening of Parliament, and of course it is used for coronations.

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