Live Like a Royal: 16 Facts About the Royal Family
Think your family dynamic is unordinary? It probably doesn’t compare to the British royal family.
From what they can and can’t say, to what they can and can’t do, and right down to the secret handbag messages of Queen Elizabeth II — everything the royals do is under scrutiny. It's no wonder that Meghan and Harry announced they would step down from their senior roles.
What are they walking away from exactly? If you want to have a go at living like a royal, put away your autograph books, don’t say "Pardon?" and definitely don’t get a divorce.
Check out these truths about how the royal family lives, works and plays.
Walking the Royal Line
When the royals make an official entrance, they adhere to a marching order of succession:
First walks Queen Elizabeth II, then Prince Phillip, then Prince Charles and Camilla, followed by William and Kate, and so on.
Where the Royals Live
The queen and Prince Phillip live in Buckingham Palace. Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, live in Clarence House (pictured).
But many members of the royal family all live in one place.
In fact, a surprising amount of royal family members live at Kensington Palace (pictured). Those include Princess Eugenie and her husband, Jack Brooksbank; William, Kate and their three children; Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester and Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester; Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Katherine, Duchess of Kent; and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
It sounds like a lot of people, but the palace isn’t cramped. William and Kate, for instance, occupy a four-story, 20-room apartment. And if anyone wants to see mom, Queen Elizabeth II is just a short two-mile journey away.
Meghan and Harry, of course, moved into their own estate, Frogmore Cottage (pictured), in April 2019 before Archie was born.
Since the couple announced that they will “step back” from the royal family and no longer receive public funds for royal duties as early as spring 2020, they said they plan to spend their time between their U.K. home and Canada. Of course, part of that agreement means repaying the about $3 million in renovation costs for Frogmore Cottage and even paying rent at a commercial rate on the property.
The Royal Family Pets
The royal family has a long history of pets, particularly dogs. The queen has owned more than 30 corgis over her lifetime that all barked and bit their way throughout Buckingham Palace. These royal dogs were from the lineage of Susan, a beloved corgi given to the queen on her 18th birthday.
She decided to stop breeding dogs in 2002 and, sadly, the last corgi died in April 2018.
However, Buckingham Palace still has furry occupants. The queen reportedly has two cross-bred “dorgis,” Vulcan and Candy, a cross between a dachshund and a corgi. (The lineage started when a dachshund belonging to the queen’s late sister, Margaret, mated with one of the corgis.)
Other notable royal family pets include Marvin, a hamster, and Lupo, a cocker spaniel, both belonging to Kate and William, and two Jack Russell terriers named Bluebell and Beth, rescue dogs belonging to Camilla and Charles. And Meghan and Harry own a black labrador named Oz and a beagle named Guy.
The royals have had their share of divorces — albeit not quite as many as most family clans. Of course, this family doesn’t treat divorce lightly. When it does happen, it’s a media sensation and a bit of a scandal.
Princess Margaret was the first prominent royal family member to have gotten a divorce since 1901 when she divorced Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1978. Margaret was the royal family’s hard-partying wildcard who was constantly in the media’s crosshairs.
For some reason, several other splits within the family occurred in 1992. The most famous of them was the one between Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
The couple's marriage was fraught with affairs and scandals that were well-publicized. It fell apart in 1992, and they officially divorced in 1996. Diana died in a car crash the following year.
Princess Anne and Mark Phillips (pictured) also had an amicable divorce in 1992. Similarly, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson divorced in 1992 but remain friends to this day.
While a loveless marriage is certainly something no one should have to suffer, any royal looking to break the till-death-do-us-part pact will have to face a scathing British tabloid press.
The Royals That Live (Kind of) Like Everyone Else
Although grandchildren to the queen, Zara Phillips (now Zara Tindall) and Peter Phillips have no royal titles. Their parents, Princess Anne and Mark Phillips, declined to give their children titles when they born, even though they were offered by Queen Elizabeth II. They believed their children would have better lives without the crown’s presence. Instead, they live pretty normal lives without any real royal duties.
Zara is an Olympian equestrian, and Peter owns his own sports management company. Peter was “the first child to be born to a princess without a title here for at least 500 years," according to the Washington Post.
As Meghan and Harry give up their royal titles — His and Her Royal Highness — they plan to become more financially independent.
However, that independence would be anything but ordinary. The two could earn millions by giving speeches, setting up their own documentary channel or throwing extravagant fundraisers.
The Royal Children
The royal family has a bunch of little ones running around and not yet grasping the responsibilities related to the throne.
Of course, the ones in direct line to the throne are William and Kate's children: Prince George and Princess Charlotte (pictured) as well as Prince Louis.
Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, the newest baby to join the royal family, was born on May 6, 2019, to Meghan and Harry.
The other royal children include:
- Savannah and Isla Phillips (pictured): These two were born to Peter Phillips and his wife, but like their father, have no title.
- Mia Grace: Born to Zara Tindall and her husband, Mia Grace also does not carry a title, just like her mother.
- Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn James: These two were born to Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and are the oldest of this newest generation of royals.
No Gender Reveals
While an expecting couple might break out the pink-or-blue balloons, the royal family doesn’t throw gender reveal parties — traditionally, they won’t divulge a new royal baby’s gender until after birth. Once the baby is born, the gender is written on an easel outside of Buckingham Palace for the press and public to see.
Although the easel isn’t the only way to get that information anymore: It’s now permissible to reveal the baby’s gender on social media around the same time as the easel reveal, as demonstrated by the Kensington Palace Twitter account after William and Kate’s baby boy was born.
Managing Work-Life Balance
The royals don’t work in the traditional sense, but they are quite busy. To manage their work-life balance, they hire some help. The queen has a fortress of people working for her at Buckingham Palace to aid her, but other family members don’t have that same luxury.
For example, William and Kate, who now have three children, have a super nanny to assist with parental duties. Interestingly, the couple opted to not hire an additional hand, but just kept their first and only nanny, Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo, on board.
The royal family can go virtually anywhere in the world when it comes to taking a vacation, but they often visit the same five places throughout the year. And so would you, if you owned these amazing vacation spots.
Windsor Castle (pictured) is a lavish 11th-century castle located in Berkshire where the queen likes to party.
Another vacation spot is Balmoral Castle (pictured). Located in Scotland, this castle has been owned by the royal family since 1852.
It sits on an astonishing 50,000 acres of land that includes hiking trails, fishing areas, forestry and farmland.
And yet another Scottish getaway is Holyrood Palace (pictured).
This 16th-century palace is used for annual royal engagements and ceremonies.
There's also Highgrove House (pictured) in Gloucester, England. The residence, owned by Prince Charles and Camilla, is known for its incredible 15-acre gardens.
It was also the home that Charles and Diana made their principal residence when they were first married.
Lastly, there's Birkhall (pictured), a sprawling 53,000-acre estate in Scotland owned by Prince Charles.
All of these places, except Birkhall, are open to the public at one time or another during the year — that is, when the royals aren’t visiting.
No Autographs, Please
While Zara and Peter might live a normal life, the other royals have their own self-imposed rules. Don’t bother asking a royal family member for their autograph, even if it’s on your arm. The royal family has a strict rule of never signing an autograph for fear that con artists and thieves might learn how to forge their signatures, according to Travel and Leisure.
The rule has been broken only once before in recent memory when Prince Charles signed ‘CHARLES 2010’ on a scrap of paper for a family who had just lost everything to a flood in 2010.
The next closest protocol breach occurred when Meghan Markle signed her name as ‘K’ to a 10-year-old fan in early 2018.
Not only did she not give any possible counterfeiter enough to forge her name, she wasn’t yet married into the royal family, so she got a pass.
And No Selfies
If the royals do take selfies, they’re stowed away in a private family album. While not outright banned, taking selfies with fans and random people is strongly discouraged because it’s a security risk. Meghan Markle made this rule publicly known when she said, “We’re not allowed to do selfies” when she was a princess-in-training in 2017.
However, selfies with the common folk isn’t completely unheard of. Several royals have broken protocol and snapped pictures with their fan base over the years, including Kate, Harry and William. Even the queen has been caught in a selfie — even if she didn’t appear to know it was happening.
Whether the royals are at home or vacationing, they’re not going to be playing this game. After receiving the Monopoly board game in 2008, Prince Andrew, Duke of York (pictured), said the game wasn’t welcome at the royal table.
“We're not allowed to play Monopoly at home. It gets too vicious,” said the Duke according to the Telegraph.
That’s certainly something any family can agree with, royalty or not.
Pay Attention to the Queen’s Purse
The queen’s handbag plays an instrumental role in choosing when events end and when people should shut up, according to Reader’s Digest.
During a dinner, if she puts her handbag on the table, it’s a signal that the dinner should end in the next five minutes. If she puts it on the floor, it’s a sign that she’s trapped in a conversation and needs a bail out.
When she’s not entertaining at the table, if the queen switches her handbag from her left arm to her right arm, it’s a signal to start wrapping things up to her posse, who will whisk her away.
That would be a pretty useful tool to get away from Uncle Garth at those annual family gatherings.
When the Queen Stands, so Do You
Oh, and royal family members have to pay attention to what the queen is doing, too.
Once the queen is done eating, so is everyone else. And when she stands, so do you.
They Don’t Use These Common Words
The royal family isn’t just part of the upper crust of British society, it pretty much is the upper crust.
As such, the family doesn’t use words and phrases common among working-class folk; everything is a formal affair.
Citing the book, “Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour” by Kate Fox, House Beautiful and The Mirror report that the royals don’t use these words:
- Dad (‘Daddy’ and ‘mummy’ is preferred)
- Posh (use ‘smart’ instead, unless you’re joking around)
- Tea (not the drink, but the evening meal. They say ‘supper’ instead)
- Function (the middle class says function, they prefer to say ‘party’)
- Patio (‘terrace’ sounds so much better))
- Dessert ('pudding' is apparently the better term, no matter the dish)
- Parting pleasantries like "Nice seeing you" — apparently it’s better to just say "Goodbye"
- Toilet (use 'lavatory' instead)
- Perfume (it’s better to use 'scent')
- Pardon (even though it sounds nicer, the upper class just say, "Sorry, what?" or just "Sorry?")
Always Pack for a Funeral
Between galas, fundraisers, charitable events and meeting with diplomats, the royal family travels a lot — they racked up almost $6 million worth of travel expenses last year — but they still need to be dressed for any occasion.
In case someone dies, all royal family members have to pack one all-black outfit of mourning. Imagine taking your two-week vacation but packing funeral garb in case someone you know dies. That would put quite a damper on your trip.
Pranking the Queen
Even the Queen isn’t above a good pranking from her children. In 2007, after receiving a new cellphone, Prince Harry insisted on recording a voice message for the queen.
Instead of a standard voicemail, he left this: “Hey wassup! This is Liz. Sorry, I'm away from the throne. For a hotline to Philip, press one. For Charles, press two. And for the corgis, press three.”
The first to discover the message — or at least the first to tattle — was the queen’s private secretary, who phoned the new number and reportedly almost fell out of his chair upon hearing the voicemail. It was also reported that the queen found it funny.
The Queen's Lighter Side Through the Years