15 Times the Royals Broke Their Own Rules
When it comes to British royalty, there are a ton of rules in place that teach the royals how they are to behave in public. There are also protocols in place for meeting members of the royal family that are usually strictly observed. But who enforces all of these protocols? The Queen, of course! She was so serious about keeping the family respectable to the public eye that many of her rules became a tradition. Many of these "rules" are passed down from generation to generation, but what happens when the young royals fight back?
In the past there have been many times that there have been mishaps or flubs in interacting with the royals, but none more so surprising than when it’s the royals themselves breaking the rules. That’s right, the royals are just like us in that they like to shirk the rules whenever it suits them. Things like hugging, handshaking, and getting close and personal—things that we take for granted each and every day—are faux pas whenever members of the royal family participate in them.
We did a little digging and found 15 times the royals broke their own rules. Read more to find out what they did! And now that Queen Elizabeth has passed on (R.I.P), how will the monarchy survive?
Every Time Prince George gets on a plane with Prince William
According to traditional protocol, two heirs to the throne must not travel together. This is to protect the legacy that is the monarchy. Prince William and Prince George, as well as the Prince’s other children regularly flout this rule, after being granted permission by his royal grandmother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, to do so.
This rule is less borne out of tradition and more out of protecting the royal line, but it makes sense that William would be allowed to bend the rules. Prince George is barely 9 years old, so he obviously needs a guardian with him at all times. Plus, Princess Kate can't always be the one to accompany the little Prince.
When Queen Elizabeth included “Obey” in Her Wedding Vows
Queen Elizabeth was a bit of a rebel while she was still just Princess Elizabeth. Not only was she the first female of the royal family to serve in the military, but when she married then Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, she added ‘obey’ to her wedding vows, creating a controversy, as the general thought was that a future monarch should never promise to obey anyone, including their own husband.
These days, this inclusion doesn't sound very progressive. In fact, it's controversial for many other reasons that don't include breaking tradition. But we must keep in mind that the late Queen met her husband in 1934 and married in 1947. Back then, things were very different, and it was actually a power move for Elizabeth to take the reigns and shape the vows to fit her vision of marriage.
When Princess Margaret Divorced Antony Armstrong-Jones
To say that Princess Margaret's divorce from photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1978 changed the face of the royal family is an understatement. In fact, it upheaved the Queen's longstanding precedent to deny divorces to royal members, which included denying marriages to divorced people, a rule that Margaret was no stranger to.
No senior member of the royal family had gotten divorced since 1901, when a granddaughter of Queen Victoria was granted a divorce. The divorce of Margaret set a new precedent for the family and showed the signs of the times. The Queen's denial of Margaret's marriage to the divorced Peter Townsend caused the princess a great deal of pain, and it's obvious she wasn't going to keep allowing the monarchy control her happiness.
Every Time Princess Diana Got Up Close and Personal
Every time the late Princess Diana got up close and personal with commoners (which was always), she was breaking royal protocol! Whenever you see videos and photos of Princess Diana doing her duties, you continually see her shaking hands and closely chatting with people of all backgrounds and religions.
She was known as The People’s Princess because she genuinely cared for all human life and worked toward the betterment of all people. However, it's no secret that the royal family usually views this as a no-no on multiple levels. For one, it's simply not the safest thing for an uber-popular royal to do. Also, the royal family probably wants to keep an air of superiority over the "commoners..."
When Prince Harry and President Barack Obama Took a Selfie
Now, it’s probably not really a strict rule, but if they’re not supposed to get close and personal and if they’re not supposed to touch anyone… How are they supposed to get away with taking a selfie? Apparently, Prince Harry doesn’t care because there have been many instances of selfies popping up with the wildly popular prince.
And it's probably not very surprising that "selfies" weren't ever outlined in the list of royal rules because cell phones — much less selfies — didn't exist when the late Queen was crowned. But Harry wasn't the one holding the phone, so did he really "break" this rule? We'll let him slide for this one. C'mon, it's Obama. Nobody wants to miss a photo op with him!
When Prince Charles Hugged a Little Boy
The general rule upon meeting the royals is no touching, unless they offer their hand for a handshake. Apparently, this little boy didn’t know the rules and ran up to Prince Charles for a hug. And even more astonishing was the fact that Charles — who is not the King — automatically hugged him back, without reserve.
Now, Charles isn't one of the most popular royals in the British family, but there's no way he'd be so rude that he'd reject an innocent hug from a young boy? Of course not! This is probably one of the only situations where the now King of England would hug a "commoner."
When Queen Elizabeth Put Her Arm Around Michelle Obama
The story here is that when Michelle Obama met the Queen of England in 2009, she wasn’t aware of royal protocol. So, imagine the gasp that was heard ‘round the world when she put her arm around the queen! However, the Queen just went with it and put her arm right back around the first lady.
After Harry's selfie with President Obama and King Charles hugging a random boy, it's clear that the royal protocol isn't merely a strict set of rules to keep the monarchy "untouchable" but rather a simple set of safety measures to prevent any harm from coming to the family.
When Meghan Markle Signed an Autograph
While greeting fans in 2018 outside of Cardiff Castle in Wales, Meghan Markle broke a pretty important royal rule by signing autographs. The thought behind this rule is that the signature might be impersonated for nefarious reasons. However, Meghan wasn’t quite royal at that point, so does it really matter?
Plus, Meghan Markle is one of the biggest bombshells let loose on the royal family since the late Princess Diana. It's clear that she entered the family to marry Harry. That's it. She didn't want to be a Princess, and the British public didn't like the American actress very much. But she's a Hollywood celeb, so why wouldn't she sign an autograph or two?
When King Edward Abdicated the Throne for Love
On December 11, 1936, King Edward VIII became the first English monarch in history to voluntarily abdicate the throne. The reason? Because as head of England’s church and country, his own rules prevented him from marrying the love of his life, the divorced Wallis Warfield Simpson. What a bold move!
Hence, King George VI was crowned, and lady Elizabeth became princess Elizabeth: heir to the throne. His abdication is one of the biggest shocks to the system that the British Royal family has felt in a long time, with very few things topping the controversy of that scandal.
When Prince Harry Married a Divorcee
Despite whom a royal member wants to marry, before they can, they must get the approval of the ruling member of the family. In this case, because of how Elizabeth II came to the throne, it was believed that Harry might be denied permission to marry Markle since she had been previously married.
And we already know how the church feels about that... We're looking at you, Princess Margaret. However, the Queen gave her permission anyway. It would be a pretty shady move if the Queen denied marriage to Meghan Markle if she allowed countless family members a divorce.
When Henry VIII Started His Own Church of England
Well, if we’re going to talk about royal rulebreakers, we might as well go straight to the source. Henry VIII lived life his way and let nothing get in the way of his wants. So, when the Catholic church wouldn’t grant him a divorce or annulment for his first marriage, he broke away and formed his own Church of England, all to marry his mistress, Anne Boleyn.
This scandal is pretty ironic because this change was what prevented many royal family members in the future from getting a divorce or marrying a divorcee, per Queen Elizabeth's desire to be a figurehead of the Church. Yet Henry VIII started the new church to get a divorce. Oh, the irony!
When Prince Charles and Diana got Divorced
While there are no specific protocols in place when it comes to divorce in the royal family, the Queen was normally the one to have a say in whether or not a senior member is to get one. And we all know the story... Charles and Diana spent four years as fodder for the paparazzi during their separation.
When the cheating scandal finally made enough headlines to cause concern for the royal reputation, the Queen officially gave her order that the pair divorce. This came at a time when countless royal members were stuck in marriages and begging for freedom, so the Queen finally cracked and pushed the monarchy into a new era. Now we have a King on the throne who was divorced and married his mistress!
When Charles Married Camilla Parker Bowles
Remarriage in the royal family can also be a big deal. Because the royal family is seen as the head of The Church of England, they are expected to live up to the same standards they hold everyone else up to. Because of the disapproval of the Church, Charles and Camilla were married in a civil ceremony instead of the church.
Oh, how times have changed! Now, Camilla Parker Bowles, who was once the evil mistress part of the narrative of Princess Diana's destruction, is officially Queen Consort after Queen Elizabeth's death. At the time of Charles's first marriage, nobody would have ever predicted a divorce from Diana, marriage to the woman he cheated on her with, and the mistress becoming "Queen."
When Queen Elizabeth II Authorized a Ceremonial Funeral for Princess Diana
Technically, when Princess Diana passed away, she was princess only in name, not title. Her HRH had been removed upon her divorce from Charles, so she was no longer considered a member of the royal family. However, upon seeing the grief pouring forth from her subjects, the queen authorized a royal funeral for Diana to pay her the homage the people wanted to see.
Plus, Princess Diana's death was a complete and utter tragedy instigated by the paparazzi. It sent the entire nation into weeks of mourning and completely changed the lives of her children, William and Harry. There would have been no greater slap in the face to her memory and the people if she wasn't granted a proper royal funeral.
When Queen Elizabeth II Bowed to Princess Diana’s Coffin
Along the same lines of granting Princess Diana a royal funeral, she bowed to her coffin in an equally groundbreaking and heartbreaking show of respect. Elizabeth bowed to no one in her 70 — yes count them, 70! — years of being queen. She was the Queen of England, so she never had to bow. People bow to her!
However, in a gesture of respect for the work Diana did for England, as well as the gifts of the heirs to the throne, William and Harry, Queen Elizabeth gave a bow to Diana’s coffin as it passed her in the funeral procession. This move was a huge sign of love and respect that the people of England greatly appreciated after Diana's many years of unhappiness within the family.