Being a princess might seem like a dream, but in reality, the title comes with a lot of rules. After all, the Royal Family are very traditional and constantly being in the public eye means there is careful scrutiny over how well those traditions are being upheld.
In fact, fashion is a rather complicated issue for the Royals. It might seem like they have a lot of freedom with their outlandish fascinators and designer wedding gowns, but there are plenty of rules for what a Royal can wear.
Here are 12 of the most puzzling…
1. Tiaras are not for everyone
Tiaras are only for married women and it is expected that the first time a Royal will wear one will be on her wedding day. Kate Middleton borrowed Queen Elizabeth’s Cartier Halo tiara for her wedding to Prince William in 2011.
“It signals the crowning of love and the loss of innocence to marriage,” explained Geoffrey Munn, author of Tiaras – A History of Splendour. Therefore it’s likely that Meghan Markle will wear one to wed Prince Harry this May. It will be interesting to see which one she chooses.
2. Natural nails only
The Royals are not allowed to wear colored nail polish. Neutrals like light pink or taupe are fine, but bright reds, blues, or turquoises are a definite no-no. Case in point, take a look at Kate’s unpolished nails in the photo above.
3. The Queen always wears bright clothing in public
While colored nails won’t be happening anytime soon, the Queen is no stranger to brighter hues when it comes to her clothing. However, it’s not because she likes those monotoned purple or green head to toe looks, it’s so that she can be spotted in a crowd.
Sophie, Countess of Wessex (the Queen’s daughter-in-law), explained, “She needs to stand out for people to be able to say ‘I saw the Queen.'”
4. The Queen always wears a hat
The Queen is very traditional, and so keeping with the old tradition that ladies should never show their hair in public, she almost always wears a matching hat with her colorful outfits.
“Up until the 1950s, ladies were very seldom seen without a hat as it was not considered ‘the thing’ for ladies to show their hair in public,” revealed Diana Mather from The English Manner etiquette consultancy.
Check out number five to see how the Queen uses her accessories to send secret messages!
5. The Queen always has a handbag
And it’s not a fashion accessory but rather part of a secret messaging system. Manners are of the utmost importance to the Royal Family, so there had to be a subtle way of signaling that the Queen is uncomfortable.
For example, if the Queen wants to leave a dinner table early, she will place her handbag on the table to let her aides know it’s time to wrap things up. Likewise, if she’s having a conversation with someone but switches her bag from one side to the other, it means that she would like to leave.
6. Handbags also have another purpose…
They are used to conceal cleavage. Princess Diana was famous for using them in this way. “We used to laugh when we designed what she called her ‘cleavage bags,’ little satin clutches which she would cover her cleavage with when she stepped out of cars,” designer Anya Hindmarch said.
7. Handbags are also good for one other thing…
Avoiding shaking hands! Yes, whether it’s just to keep a distance, to move through a crowd quickly, or to lessen the risk of spreading a cold, holding a clutch is a great way to avoid having free hands available for shaking.
While Meghan Markle has still be spotted with the seemingly out-of-place shoulder strap style purses, it’s very likely she will switch to handheld clutches as she attends more public and formal events.
Speaking of Meghan Markle, everyone is wondering what she will wear for her big day next month. While details of the dress are under wraps, we do know a few things to expect for sure.
8. Prince George only wears shorts
Have you ever noticed you never see him in full-length pants? That’s because, under the age of eight, it’s a tradition with British Royalty to only wear shorts.
“Trousers are for older boys and men, whereas shorts on young boys is one of those silent class markers that we have in England,” explained British etiquette expert, William Hanson. Hmm… I wonder if his knees ever get cold.
Check out number nine to find out which outfit the Royals must carry on them at all times…
9. All Royals must carry a black outfit with them
This rule is a bit somber, but since the Royals are frequently traveling and photographed regularly, they need to carry a black outfit with them at all times in case someone in the family should die. This way, upon returning to England, they will arrive dressed appropriately.
When the Queen’s father died in 1952, she was away in Kenya and did not have appropriate attire. She had to wait on the plane until a black outfit was brought to her, change inside, and then exit.
10. Watch your wedges!
The Queen allegedly hates wedge style shoes like the ones Kate is wearing in the photo above. Unfortunately, Kate loves them and has snuck them into her wardrobe on occasion. However, she’s been very careful about where she has worn them and it’s never been at an event with the Queen!
11. Weighted hems are a must
This one’s just common sense and has more to do with preventing wardrobe malfunctions than anything else. Kate nearly had a fashion disaster on her hands back in 2011, but the Queen has a clever hack to prevent it from ever happening to her.
Stewart Parvin, one of the Queen’s couturiers, confessed that he sews weights into the hems of her dresses. “I use curtain weights, lead weights, from Peter Jones’s curtain department. We call them pennyweights,” he revealed.
12. Wear pantyhose
Meghan Markle recently broke with tradition when she refused to wear pantyhose for her Royal engagement photos. To be fair, it’s not an official rule, but more like a high recommendation. The Queen, Princess Diana, and Kate Middleton all wear them on the regular.