Meghan Markle may be living a fairy tale romance, but it’s not all fun and games. As a member of the royal family, she’s now expected to follow a number of rules, including some particularly odd ones.
“The royal family has very specific guidelines,” says etiquette expert Lisa Orr. “It won’t be a massive shift for Meghan Markle. She has her own look, but she needs to be more mindful.”
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We already know — and have seen — that Markle will need to tweak her wardrobe choices somewhat. Despite greeting the public at the announcement of her engagement to Prince Harry in November in bare legs, since her much-hyped nuptials, she has worn pantyhose for every official event, as decreed by the Queen.
There are also other rather obvious rules, like no personal social media accounts, no short skirts and no provocative photographs.
But there are also a few strange rules that might surprise you. Here are six of the oddest rules that royals must follow.
#1 She can’t eat shellfish
You won’t be seeing the Duchess of Sussex tucking into a seafood tower or a bowl of spaghetti alle vongole in public at any time. That’s because royals are actively discouraged from eating shellfish to avoid the possibility of food poisoning.
Although the younger royals (starting from Prince Charles) have been known to flout this particular rule, the banned foods list doesn’t end there. Markle will also be discouraged from eating anything too spicy or exotic, rare meat, and drinking tap water in foreign countries.
Obviously, a bout of food poisoning would hinder a royal’s duties while travelling on official business.
#2 She can’t take selfies
We know that Markle had to delete her blog, The Tig, and her excellent Instagram account that showed pics of the Suits star doing yoga, drinking wine with friends and spending time with her adorable pooches. But now she’s also banned from taking selfies.
At her first royal engagement with Prince Harry in December, when they visited the Terrence Higgins Trust charity fair for World AIDS Day in Nottingham, a woman asked Markle for a photograph but she politely declined.
“She said thank you very much for braving the cold,” Barbara Miller told OK! Magazine. “I said, ‘Can we have a selfie?’ and said, ‘We’re not allowed to do selfies.'”
This is apparently the decree of the Queen, who has referred to selfies as “disconcerting.”
#3 She can’t stab her food with a fork
From a young age, we learn to feed ourselves by spearing our food with the sharp tines of a fork. As we grow older and (hopefully) more aware of dinner table etiquette, the stabbing motion turns into a more delicate yet firm pressing of the fork into a piece of food before bringing it to our mouths.
But not so for the duchess.
She, like the rest of the royal family, must now balance her food on the back of her fork before putting it in her mouth. It’s a motion that requires a steady hand and precise calculation.
#4 She can’t play Monopoly
Let’s be honest, we know Markle would be the Scottie dog, but now that she has a royal title, she can’t play Monopoly anymore.
It sounds like a random and oddly austere rule, but apparently there’s good reason the royals stay away from the capitalistic game.
In 2008, Prince Andrew was gifted a game of Monopoly by the Leeds Building Society, but he said: “We’re not allowed to play Monopoly at home. It gets too vicious.”
From the sounds of it, it’s a good thing royals aren’t allowed to get into the actual real estate game.
#5 She can’t vote
Markle will apply for British citizenship now that she’s married to a true blue Brit, but she won’t be able to vote in any elections.
The official website of the UK parliament states that the Queen doesn’t vote: “Although not prohibited by law, it is considered unconstitutional for the Monarch to vote in an election.”
It doesn’t mention other royals specifically, however a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace has said that the rest of the family doesn’t vote “by convention.”
#6 She can’t go to bed before the Queen
It should come as little surprise that the Queen leads a very disciplined life. From the moment she wakes until the time she goes to bed, her day is scheduled like that of a cadet at boot camp. Which means she expects others to respect her schedule, too.
This means, if the Queen heads to bed at 11 p.m., everyone else in her presence needs to wait until at least 11:01 p.m. to hit the hay.
In an interview that ran in the book The Royals in Australia by Juliet Rieden, William Heseltine, a former staffer for the royals and the Queen’s private secretary from 1986 to 1990, said that the monarch’s old school rule about going to bed first was especially difficult for Princess Diana to abide by.
“For Diana the long royal evenings were agony,” he said. “There’d be an hour or so in the sitting room of everyone sitting around making conversation, and nobody felt it right to go to bed before the Queen did. And Diana was driven to such extremes that she’d excuse herself and go to bed, which was thought to be rather bad form, going to bed before the Queen.”
Here’s hoping Markle has more stamina.
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