Leading a royal life requires adhering to several strict protocols. Yet, even the most conservative personalities within the family have fallen short of those rules at some point.
Breaking rules always has its repercussions. And for members of the royal family, having those brief moments of rebellion splashed across the tabloids is as bad as it gets.
Notably, the British royal family has protocols for everything: The ideal mode of dressing, manner of speaking, the right way to smile, how to curtsy, associating with the public, and even traveling. These royalties have to live by the book to ensure order within the family.
But what happens when these books have been passed down through centuries, bearing the same traditions without changing with the times? The resultꟷ a generation of royals that seem to constantly steer away from the laid-out rules. And since no one is perfect, even the Queen herself has bent her rules on occasions.
Check out fifteen times members of the British royal family have broken royal protocol without ending up imprisoned in the Tower of London!
1. PRINCE WILLIAMS TRAVELS WITH PRINCE GEORGE
The royal tradition forbids direct heirs to the throne from flying together. Remarkably, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge is a repeat offender when it comes to this rule.
Since welcoming his oldest son, Prince George in 2013, Williams, who is the second in the line of succession has embarked on numerous family trips, side-by-side with Prince George, the third in line to the throne.
Although William reportedly has the Queen’s permission to fly with the young Prince George, those trips would likely be forbidden once the young prince clocks twelve.
2. QUEEN ELIZABETH HUGS MICHELLE OBAMA
The royal family tradition forbids all forms of body contact with the royals, especially the monarch. Yet, when Queen Elizabeth II met the former FLOTUS, Michelle Obama, she could not resist the urge to swing her arms around her during their photo session.
3. MEGHAN MARKLE OPTS FOR A CROSS-BODY BAG
The Duchess of Sussex is one of the newest members of the royal family, having married Prince Harry in 2018. Yet, she is no alien to some basic fashion protocols, including the tradition requiring royal females to carry a clutch bag during public outings
The clutch is a polite way of avoiding shaking hands with fans. Meghan Markle has flouted that rule on various occasions. Notably, during her visit to Edinburgh following her wedding, the “Suits” alum opted for a crossbody bag.
4. SIGNING AUTOGRAPHS
Meghan Markle and Prince Charles have defaulted in the royal family’s tradition guiding autographs signing. Members of the royal family are expected to decline all requests for autographs or signatures to avoid incidents of fraud.
However, Markle notably signed an autograph for a young fan in Wales, breaking the long-standing rule. Before Meghan, Prince Charles also overlooked the rule in 2010, when he signed an autograph for a little boy in Cornwall.
Queen Elizabeth II also broke the royal protocol during her trip to Malaysia in 1998, signing her name on a little boy’s soccer ball.
5. PRINCESS DIANA SENT HER KIDS TO NURSERY SCHOOL
Going against traditions requiring royal children to be home-schooled under a private tutor up to a certain educational level, the late Princess Diana of Wales sent William and Harry to nursery schools.
This was part of her resolve to avail both boys a normal childhood that included fun days at the beach, queuing at fast food joints, and hitting the cinemas and amusement parks
6. PRINCE HARRY AND MEGHAN MARKLE’S WEDDING CAKE
Deviating from the customary fruitcake served for centuries at royal weddings and special events, Harry and Meghan opted for a sponge cake infused with elderflower syrup at their wedding.
7. PRINCESS DIANA PICKED OUT HER ENGAGEMENT RING
Prospective royal brides usually receive custom engagement rings carved from preexisting family jewels. However, Princess Diana picked out a predesigned ring from House of Garrard’s catalog in favor of a family heirloom. The catalog ring notably served as her engagement band.
8. WHEN MIDDLETON TOOK PICTURES AT BALMORAL
Royal traditions aside, the Queen has a soft spot for those after her heart, including the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. While still dating Prince William in 2009, Middleton joined the royals on a summer vacation to Balmoral.
The Queen lowered the reins for her future daughter-in-law, letting her take pictures at the castle, a breach in the centuries-long tradition.
9. MEGHAN RECEIVES AN INVITATION TO SANDRINGHAM PALACE
Notably, Middleton was not the only one to snag a special place in the Queen’s heart even before becoming a royal. In 2017, the British monarch invited Meghan Markle to enjoy the Christmas festivities with the royals in Sandringham Palace.
That was a direct breach of royal protocol, as until then, only married partners earned the privilege to partake in the Queen’s traditional Christmas fest at Sandringham House.
10. QUEEN ELIZABETH ATTENDED ANNETTE WILKIN’S FUNERAL
The Queen customarily does not attend funerals to avoid becoming the center of attention. However, when her longtime housekeeper and friend, Annette Wilkin died in 2019, after serving the royals for four decades, she made an exemption.
11. THE INFAMOUS REVENGE DRESS
Princess Diana flounted the royal fashion guidelines more times than one. But the most memorable remains her 1994 off-shoulder gown, which she donned to an official event the same night Prince Charles admitted to cheating on her.
The all-black ensemble, rightly dubbed “the revenge dress,” remains one of the sexiest outfits in royal history.
12. KATE AND WILLIAM ARRIVE AFTER THE QUEEN
Royal protocol demands that the monarch arrives last at every event as a means of showing reference and ensuring her safety. However, Middleton and Prince Williams broke this rule in 2018, when they showed up late for an Easter service after the Queen’s arrival.
The couple reportedly encountered a traffic jam on their way to the venue, prompting their lateness. The Queen pardoned them, permitting them to join the ceremony.
13. THE QUEEN ABANDONED HER PEOPLE
Following Princess Diana’s death, the world was plunged into darkness, felt more gravely within the royal family. After learning of the fatal car crash that claimed Diana’s life, Queen Elizabeth retired to Balmoral castle with her grandsons, William and Harry.
That was partly meant to keep the press from harassing the grieving boys. However, the public became enraged by the Queen’s absence, and refusal to address them at such a dark moment. But Queen Elizabeth, torn between family and duty, deemed it more important to let the teenage boys grieve in peace.
14. THE CAMBRIDGES EAT SUSHI
One royal rule upheld strictly by the Queen forbids family members from eating shellfish when dining out. In addition to shellfish, royals traditionally avoid raw food like sushi and rare meat. This guideline is a means of avoiding food poisoning.
In 2018, during his tour of a Japanese cultural center, Prince Williams ate salmon sashimi and admitted to the chef that he and Middleton loved sushi.
Prince Charles has also breached this royal protocol, as he was once captured in public shoving a whole shellfish into his mouth.
15. KING EDWARD ABDICATED THE THRONE TO MARRY A DIVORCEE
The royal laws forbid the King from marrying a divorcee with a living ex-partner. Hence, when King Edward VIII fell in love with the then-married Wallis Simpson, who already lived through one divorce, he was faced with a tough decision.
As the head of The Church of England, marrying Simpson wasn’t an option. Hence, he decided to choose love over duty, and forfeited his claim to the throne, passing it to his brother. Hence, he was able to marry the love of his life soon after she divorced her second husband.
Thus, King George VI, Queen Elizabeth’s father became king, paving the way for this new generation of royals. That’s some awe-inspiring love story!