There’s a lot of rules when it comes to being a royal.
Members of the British Royal Family are expected to dress, speak and behave in a certain way — which makes sense given the immense amount of attention that’s always on them.
While fans of mom-to-be Meghan Markle may copy her outfits and lust after her handbags, there’s a reason why she and other royals clutch their purses in their hands.
Here, some of protocols royal family members are expected to follow.
Carry your purse in your hands — not on your shoulder
Queen Elizabeth II uses her purse as a means to communicate with staff: she places her handbag on the table when she’s ready to leave an event and puts it on the floor when she’s not enjoying a conversation.
Markle and Kate Middleton hold their clutches or purses in their hands for practical reasons, too. It’s said that the duchesses hold their purses so they can avoid shaking hands with onlookers if need be.
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While Markle was a fan of cross-body bags in the past, royal expert Penny Junor told Harper’s Bazaar UK that now that the former actor is a royal, she has no need to keep things like a wallet or makeup in her purse as she did before.
Junor also told the outlet that large bags do not look good with designer outfits, which is why royals prefer smaller, more sophisticated purses.
The Duchess of Sussex often makes stylish statements with her looks, but her wardrobe has become more conservative since marrying Prince Harry.
Royals are expected to dress modestly and not show cleavage. (Princess Diana was known to use her clutch to cover her chest whenever she exited a car.)
Length is important, too, as most royal women wear skirts or dresses that hit around the knee. Men are expected to dress appropriately as well, sporting button-up shirts, pants and blazers. Even when royals are sporting “casual looks,” it’s rare to see them in jeans.
Keep PDAs to a minimum
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Middleton and Prince William rarely touch each other in public, and as royal expert Emily Nash of Hello! Magazine pointed out, “the Duke and Duchess are almost always seen in photographs taken during official engagements so they are at ‘work,’ and it would be unprofessional to hold hands.”
Hats are a must
There’s a reason why members of the Royal Family are often photographed in hats. At official appearances during the day, women are expected to wear hats. Per tradition, it was considered “unladylike” for women to show their hair up until the 1950s, and now, hats are a formality.
Tiaras, on the other hand, are reserved for evening events.
“The old rule is that hats are never worn indoors after 6 p.m. because that is when the ladies changed into evening dress, and tiaras and the family jewels would come out,” etiquette expert Diana Mather told the BBC.
Mather added that “flashy diamonds and tiaras” are not worn in the day, and only members of the Royal Family or women married into the family are to wear the glittery headgear.
Avoid crossing your legs
While there’s no official rule that states royals are forbidden from crossing their legs when they sit, it’s common etiquette that royal ladies do the “duchess slant,” a sitting pose named after the Duchess of Cambridge. (Markle made headlines back in 2018 for sitting cross-legged at a formal event with the Queen.)
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The “duchess slant” is where your ankles and knees are kept together, and one ankle can cross behind the other. Slanting your knees to one side, and keeping an “egg’s width of distance” between the back of the chair creates “a flattering silhouette” etiquette expert Myka Meier told People.
Don’t comment on politics
The Queen has met some of the world’s most powerful leaders so it’s safe to assume she has her own thoughts on international politics. Royals, however, are not to share their views publicly and are expected to remain neutral on political issues.
“As head of state, the Queen has to remain strictly neutral with respect to political matters, unable to vote or stand for election,” the Royal Family’s website says.
While the U.K.’s government says the Queen can technically vote, “it is considered unconstitutional” for the monarch to take part in an election.
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