Take a Peek at British Royal Life Behind Closed Doors
With Prince Harry marrying an American and the popularity of the Netflix show The Crown, it's no surprise that the lives of the British royal family are once again of great interest to the American public and even the rest of the world. The TV show depicts plenty of drama and intrigue at every turn, but real life is rarely that exciting — even for the Queen of England.
At the end of the day, the royals are people just like everyone else, and life with that much spotlight isn't always fun. Here’s your chance to get to know the royal family a little better by taking a peek at what royal life is really like behind closed doors.
They Read What People Write About Them
You might think the last thing the royal family would do is read all the books and articles that talk about them and their family members. Although they may not read everything published about them, they certainly don't shy away from learning the contents.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, for example, have been photographed reading the Queen’s official biography, Queen Elizabeth: The Queen Mother, together in their home. The book tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II's mother and must be a surreal read some seven years after the late Queen's death.
They Actually Watch The Crown (Sometimes)
Not only does the royal family read books about themselves, but they also watch the famous TV series based on their lives, The Crown. According to the Sunday Express, during season one, Prince Edward and his wife arranged to have "viewing nights" every Saturday, and the Queen herself sat down to watch with them.
When season two rolled around, however, the Queen wasn’t fond of how they portrayed her husband, Prince Philip. It's uncertain whether they continued to watch the show, but they have commented that the events are highly dramatized.
The Queen Takes Blood on Trips
This one sounds a little macabre, but it has a logical explanation. Every time the royal family travels, security goes to great lengths to ensure their safety. One of the ways they do this is by taking along stores of the Queen's blood.
This isn't the protocol every time she gets on a plane, but if they are going somewhere where access to blood could be questionable, it's definitely an item they pack. In a pinch, this precaution could end up saving her life. Let's hope they never have to use it.
What About That Forgotten Royal Documentary?
Back in 1969, the royal family filmed and produced a documentary revealing parts of their everyday lives never before seen by the public. It was a big deal, and the documentary aired to 37 million viewers. The shots included the family eating a meal and going on a picnic.
However, the Queen declared it should never be aired again. The film improved their image with the public, but she decided that depicting too much normalcy could be damaging in the long run. Who knows where the documentary is now?
They Always Travel with a Mourning Outfit
Another way the family stays prepared during travel is by packing an all-black outfit, no matter the occasion. This practice became the standard after Princess Elizabeth was caught without appropriate mourning attire in 1952 at the passing of King George VI. She had to have a dress delivered to her at the last minute.
Extra blood, a black outfit in case of death — it's obviously not always tea and cookies for the royal family. They have to be constantly prepared for tragedy to strike, even when they’re going on vacation.
The Queen Has a Quirky Eating Preference
Although they may occasionally mention their likes and dislikes, there are many details about the members of the royal family that outsiders don't get to see. Those who are close to the family or who work for them quickly come to know them well.
Anyone who serves the Queen food, for example, knows that she likes to eat tuna sandwiches from time to time, but if you serve them without cutting off the crust, she will probably send them back. The Queen doesn't like to eat bread crusts, no matter how ridiculous it might sound.
The Queen Needs Her Kettle
The royal family lives in an environment where traditions and customs are supremely important. It's no wonder that the small rituals of the day take on added importance, especially afternoon tea. The Queen likes Earl Grey tea, to be exact, and she likes it poured from her beloved monogrammed kettle.
In fact, the Queen likes it so much that she takes the kettle with her on trips. She can’t have water boiled in just any old container, after all! She also likes to take her own package of Harrod's sausages.
Her Wardrobe Is Wind-Proof
Ladies, do you ever put on your favorite dress, only to step outside and have a gust of wind send your skirt flying up into your face? This particular problem doesn't happen to the Queen, but it's not because the wind stops blowing for her.
The Queen has her skirts and dresses weighted at the bottom to ensure swift breezes can't flip them up so easily. It's one of the many ways that her clothes are totally customized for her. After all, you can’t risk flashing all the photographers when you’re the Queen.
They Can Be Picky About Their Drinks
The royal family isn't ashamed to admit they enjoy a nice glass of wine or a mixed drink here and there. Some of them, however, have very particular tastes when they drink. Take Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. They prefer gin and tonic and red wine, respectively.
They won't just order it from the bar, of course. They have a bodyguard who takes all the necessary bottles of alcohol if they happen to be traveling, and he makes their drinks for them. For people of such high wealth and esteem, it's BYOB all the time.
Sometimes Traditions Do Change
The royal family must preserve tradition, but they aren’t impervious to change. They understand that the world in general shifts and progresses, and as a result, they must shift and progress too. One of the things they have changed is their birthing rituals.
Like other places in the world, it used to be true that men weren’t allowed to participate by being in delivery rooms. When a woman was giving birth, only women were allowed to be present. Over the years, this attitude has changed, and it's now common for fathers like Prince William to be present during the delivery.
The Queen Has Two Birthdays
The Queen's birthday is celebrated with an immense parade called the Trooping of the Colour. It's an event that the public looks forward to all year, but did you know that it's not celebrated on the Queen's real birthday?
The Queen was born on April 21, but the official party happens in June. Why? A long time ago, they decided that for birthdays that took place during cold months, they did not want to force people to stand outside in the cold. As a result, the Queen chooses a Saturday in June as a stand-in birthday.
They Don’t Eat Seafood When Traveling
Anytime the royal family goes abroad, seafood is strictly off the menu. That's right, oysters, shrimp, salmon — it's all forbidden to the family. The reason is actually simple: Seafood is more likely to give you food poisoning than anything else, and the royal family can't risk getting sick.
It's a sad state of affairs when you think about all the delicious seafood available in coastal regions around the world, the U.S. included. That is one thing the royal family definitely misses out on. Apparently, they will just have to wait until they get home to request the calamari.
The Queen Decides What to Serve
Even though the Queen might have to cater to the whims of others when traveling abroad or visiting leaders, she certainly has the final say in her own home. Meals offered at Buckingham Palace — specifically for large events — are hand-picked by the Queen from a selection of options in a menu book.
That means you might want to think twice before criticizing a dish served up among royalty. You never know who picked it out! Of course, anyone invited to these lavish dinners probably never makes the rookie mistake of criticizing the food.
You've Got to Wear Your Nice Jacket for Dinner
Dinners are a lavish affair in the home of the royal family, and formal clothes are expected to be worn by everyone. On one particularly humorous occasion, Prince Philip failed to dress as formally as he should have, and the chef mistakenly thought he was the gardener!
If it happens once, it's just a funny story. If it happens all the time, however, you are likely to be treated to an intervention by the Queen and her staff. After all, the royal family has an image to uphold, whether they like it or not.
Subtlety Is the Key
You know those long, fashionable nails worn by movie stars? Yeah, the royal family doesn't have the luxury of indulging in such over-the-top styles. Instead, the women in the family are usually seen wearing natural or light-colored nails — nothing very long and nothing very colorful.
This is another way the royal family has to put up with restrictions that you take for granted. They have the money to get the best nail care, but they don't have the freedom to experiment with different styles and colors they might like. They always have to be ready for cameras.
Young Boys Can't Wear Pants!
An old English tradition says that long pants are reserved for older boys and adult men. That's why young boys in the royal family are only seen wearing shorts — no matter how cold it is outside! This custom goes as far back as the 16th century (when Child Protective Services clearly wasn’t a thing).
Similar guidelines are in place for young women in the family, of course. Girls are often put in dresses, sometimes with tights underneath. It's a mystery whether these children are actually aware of the dress code, or they simply go along with whatever their mom or nanny gives them to wear.
The Queen Mother Was a Source of Controversy
People have a lot of different opinions about the Queen Mother. She certainly sparked a lot of controversies about her personality — including the possibility that she was racist. Despite what anyone thinks of her, they can't deny that she went through a lot during her lifetime.
Her husband, King George VI died young, for one thing, and she experienced the bombing of Buckingham Palace during WWII. On the lighter side, this imposing woman always seemed to be running late. In fact, she was told dinner was 15 minutes earlier than it was to ensure everyone could eat on time.
The Queen Had a Royal Sweet Tooth
Queen Elizabeth isn't just picky about her tuna sandwiches — she has specific tastes when it comes to dining in general, particularly desserts. She is quite disciplined about eating healthy, but she loves to indulge in dark chocolate. She usually eats it after her dinner.
She prefers brown eggs to white, no sugar in her tea and meat that is thoroughly well-done. And don't even think of serving her starches for a regular lunch. Unless she is at an event, the Queen avoids pasta and potatoes.
They Do Christmas a Bit Differently
Many families open Christmas presents on Christmas morning, thanks to the longstanding tradition that Santa leaves the gifts overnight on Christmas Eve. Well, it looks like Santa makes an exception for the royal family, as they get their presents a little earlier.
Instead of tossing and turning all night long in anticipation, the family opens gifts on Christmas Eve during teatime. Oddly, this is a German way of celebrating the holiday. They also stick to goofy gifts instead of luxurious ones, which is a good choice since they can buy themselves whatever they want at any time.
The Queen Sends a Lot of Holiday Cards
You might get around to signing your holiday cards in November — more likely early December — but the Queen would never procrastinate like that! She always signs her cards in the summer months. If you think that’s going overboard on being prepared, remember that she has to sign 800 of them, and the months leading up to Christmas are too busy to wait until then.
Depending on how close a person is to the family, the Queen will sign her name "Elizabeth R.," "Elizabeth" or "Lilibet." (The R stands for "Regina," which means "queen" in Latin.)
Princess Diana Changed Some Traditions
Before Prince William came along, women in the royal family gave birth inside their homes. That all changed when Princess Diana decided to give birth at St. Mary's Hospital in London. The event sparked a new tradition that modern royals are sure to appreciate.
His brother was born in the same hospital, followed years later by Prince William’s three children. This was also the start of the hospital photo tradition, where the family stands on the steps of the hospital for photographers shortly after the baby is born. As you can see, new traditions are occasionally born — literally.
Some Family Members Have Broken the Rules
As the royal family has expanded over the years, some new members have stumbled in their roles. Kate Middleton, for example, attended a German charity event where she happily gave hugs to all the children. This was against royal protocol, as handshakes were the standard. (What kid doesn’t want a handshake, right?) Obviously, her "mistake" was much more appreciated.
Meghan Markle has also been the subject of some royal faux pas — like signing autographs and engaging in PDA with Prince Harry. She also bypassed the traditional wedding fruitcake for a lemon cake. Adjusting to royal life isn't easy — but it might taste better!
They Are More Frugal Than You Think
The wealth the royal family enjoys is staggering, but they like to keep things humble in many ways. Don't be surprised to see them wearing outfits more than once and sometimes flying coach on a commercial airplane. They also like to eat simple breakfasts like milk and cereal.
The family prefers to repair clothing instead of replacing it, and Queen Elizabeth even saves used gift wrap for the next holiday. (That one is a bit much.) The royal family strives to set an example that material things aren't what's important in life, and that is undoubtedly an approach to admire.
Kate Middleton Didn't Hire a Makeup Artist
That's right, Kate Middleton didn't hire a makeup artist for her wedding day. She blended and smudged all by herself, resulting in a look that was nothing short of stunning. How did she manage such a feat and look so flawless?
It turns out that she did take a few makeup classes beforehand — you don't want to wing it when almost 2 billion people are watching you — but it’s still impressive that she chose to bypass a makeup artist for such an important event. She should be proud of her do-it-yourself approach to the problem.
They Have Secret Cues
When you live life constantly in the spotlight, you have to create secret cues with your family and your staff. Queen Elizabeth does this at times by using her purse — they aren’t just fashion statements. Holding her purse in different ways sends different signals to her handlers.
If the Queen shifts her purse from the left arm to the right, she is signaling that she wants to end whatever conversation she's having. If the bag is placed on the floor, it's a dire S.O.S. Putting the purse on the table means she wants to conclude the event.
There Are Words They Never Say
The royal family is different from the average English family in many ways, and they will intentionally highlight this distinction at times. For example, they never use certain words because of their association with "commoners."
Instead of calling their food a "portion," they call it a "helping," and they won't ever utter the word "toilet." Heading to the living room? If you're in the royal family, you would call it the drawing room or sitting room. A lovely "perfume" is considered a "scent" to the royals. Fancy talk, right?
They Iron What?
As much as the royal family tries to emphasize their humility and ability to connect with the people, certain practices will forever mark them as totally different. For one thing, Prince Charles employs three different people to look after his clothes. One of the people actually irons his shoelaces. That’s right, shoelaces.
Can you imagine having someone ironing your dirty Vans shoelaces for you? (Of course, you would never have dirty shoelaces if that was your life.) To the average person, this is royalty at its finest: outrageously indulgent over something insignificant. If we ever had this lifestyle, however, we probably wouldn't complain.
The Queen Doesn’t Need a Passport
Given that British passports are issued in the name of Her Majesty, the Queen doesn't need to issue herself a passport in order to travel. She can come and go as she pleases without presenting any form of identification. Hypothetically, all she would need is a coin with her face on it, but no one ever asks for it.
Just because the Queen is exempt doesn't mean everyone else is in the royal family. The rest of the royals must have a passport to travel. Looks like that’s another perk of wearing the crown.
You Need the Queen's Permission to Tie the Knot
If a member of the royal family thinks they can marry who they want when they choose, they need to take another look at the royal rule book. As part of the new updates to the Inheritance Act, the first six people in line for the throne have to get a marriage license straight from the Queen. (Yes, Harry had to get permission.)
That means if the Queen disapproves, she can stop the wedding from happening. It might seem unfair to the couple who want to get married, but in the Queen's eyes, it's another way for her to protect the interests of the family.
Kate Middleton Is Setting "Firsts"
As many know, Kate Middleton will be the first working-class Queen-consort when her husband steps up to the throne. That means she has no prior royal or noble family members. This is a pretty big deal, but it's not the Duchess of Cambridge's only "first."
She is also the first-ever royal wife to have a degree. She went to the University of St. Andrews and got her bachelor's in art history. It's even more interesting that a "commoner" Queen-consort will also be the highest educated. Who knows what other "firsts" she will accomplish in her life?