Royal family rule myths
When it comes to the royal family, there is one rule that must never be broken, no matter how close they are in line to the throne: each member of the family must always bow or curtsy to the Queen. But beyond that, there’s surprisingly little royal etiquette for the Windsor clan to follow. In fact, most of the royal family rules you’ve probably heard of – likely reported as scandals in which Kate or Meghan allegedly broke ‘royal protocol’ – are myths, manufactured by the media for the sake of a sensational headline.
So let’s get to the truth behind these royal rules that apparently govern everything from their décolleté down to their toenails (literally).
Dark nail polish is frowned upon
Need proof that the British tabloids are hungry for royal gossip? If their headlines are anything to go by, the Duchess of Cambridge has sparked multiple royal scandals with her pedicures. On glam nights out, you will often spot Catherine with burgundy polish peeking out from her Jimmy Choos. While the Queen prefers to sport a pale shade of pink on her nails (Essie’s Ballet Slippers, if you’re wondering), Kate is not breaking any rules (or creating friction with Her Majesty) by opting for dark polish. “There is no actual protocol about dark nail polish,” says royal commentator Omid Scobie in Harper’s Bazaar.
Off-the-shoulder dresses are a no-no
Many of Princess Diana’s dresses made magazine covers back in the day, but there’s one in particular that achieved legendary status. In June 1994, on the same night Prince Charles’s tell-all interview confirming his affair with Camilla aired, Diana arrived at London’s Serpentine Gallery in what was hailed as ‘the Revenge Dress’. But did she actually flout protocol by wearing an off-she-shoulder number that showed a hint of cleavage? No way, says royal commentator Victoria Arbiter. “There are no set rules, other than being dressed appropriately for the occasion,” Arbiter explains, noting that when Meghan set the world aflutter by wearing an off-the-shoulder outfit to Trooping the Colour in 2018 (above), it was similarly a non-issue.
This dress sense may be of no consequence, but there are certain rules in places when it comes to royal etiquette.