Could You Pass as a Member of the Royal Family?


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: Yuri_Arcurs/DigitalVision/gettyimages

About This Quiz

We commoners love the British royal family! And we'd love to be them -- for a long weekend, perhaps. But for a lifetime? Forget about it! There are so many rules to remember, and they're not always easy to abide by, either. (Wait until you get to the ones about clothing in hot weather.)

Royal etiquette and protocol was in the news a lot in 2018, because of the wedding of American-born Meghan Markle to Prince Harry, Charles and Diana's younger son. Her engagement came with rigorous etiquette training, as did the engagement of British commoner Kate Middleton to Harry's older brother, William. The US media reported extensively on the new rules these young women would need to follow, and all the arcane traditions that comprise Buckingham Palace life.

If you followed these pre-wedding stories, how much do you remember? Enough that you could pass as a royal, if some Freaky-Friday twist of fate landed you in those shoes for a day? To help you figure that out, we've written a detailed quiz on royal behavior and etiquette, from the dress code to dinner-table manners. Try your luck now!

(While this quiz draws from several sources, we'd like to acknowledge fashion vlogger and designer Justine LeConte, whose video "The Royals Can't Wear This..." was our first stop when trying to understand fashion rules for Buckingham Palace residents!)

Which of these foods do royals not eat in public?

The reason behind this rule is simple: Shellfish are a notorious cause of food poisoning. Getting profoundly sick, maybe even vomiting, is a serious breach of public protocol. (Just ask former US President George H.W. Bush).


A blood prince greets his mother, the Queen, with ...

Despite the close blood relationship. a prince greets the queen with a bow, however brief and shallow -- it might not look much different from a nod. (If you were wondering about "sampeah," it's a Cambodian gesture of respect, like a wai in Thai culture).


Putting one ankle behind the other, bending your knees slightly, and bowing your head is called _____.

Exaggerated curtsying, with the knees out and the hem of the dress held outward, has fallen out of favor. Keep it brief and simple.


True or false: When drinking tea, a member of the royal family must extend his or her pinky finger.

The little finger is to be curled under the middle and ring finger, while the thumb and index finger grip the cup's handle. Extending the pinky has become a cliche of upper-class Britishness -- no one does it anymore.


How hot must it be before a woman in the royal family can go without stockings?

No matter how hot it is, you've got to wear stockings. We wonder if some women in the royal family wear thigh-highs and/or garter belts to give them a little airflow, you know, at the top!


What shade of stockings must a female royal always wear?

Many commoners believe that women in the royal family must wear nude stockings, but this isn't true. The rule is simply that they must have their legs covered.


How long should a young prince's trousers be?

This is a rule that goes back a ways, and is shared by the aristocracy (titled nobles) as well. Long pants are for common/middle-class boys. Wearing shorts, no matter what the weather, is a sign of high birth.


Are royal women allowed to wear trousers in public?

It's very rare to see a royal female in pants, and this preference comes down from Queen Elizabeth (as well as history). But we imagine that with the educational/cultural trips the younger royals make, this might get occasionally get waived. Imagine an expedition in the Australian outback, for example.


Black clothing is for ...

Commoners have taken to wearing gray or muted colors at funerals. But the royal family is very traditional, and they still wear black.


On what occasion is it OK to show a little bit of cleavage?

Royal women just keep that part of the anatomy covered up. However, Princess Diana broke this rule occasionally.


Which of these royal homes is in Scotland?

Balmoral is like a country home, where royal behavior is more relaxed, as is dress. Dinners still tend to be formal, though.


The line of succession to the British throne is called the _________.

Currently, the order of precedence goes from Queen Elizabeth to Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate), and down from there. The order of precedence dictates who enters and leaves the room first, who bows to whom, and so on.


At a formal dinner, when do you stop eating?

Royal etiquette calls for everyone at the table to stop eating when the Queen lays her fork (or spoon) down. So don't dawdle -- you might end up having to quit eating before you've gotten enough!


One's skirt or hem of one's dress should always fall ...

Hems don't have to be floor-length, or even mid-calf. But they do have to hit below the knee, for propriety's sake.


Who is allowed to wear a tiara?

A tiara is the mark of a married royal woman. She will wear it at nearly any evening occasion, not just celebrations of weddings and coronations.


Which of these is an accepted nail color for a queen or princess?

Kate and Meghan may use clear varnish on their nails, or a light pink. But no red, no matter how regal it might be.


How hot does it have to get before a female royal can take her coat off outdoors?

Fortunately, Buckingham Palace has its own tailors. They are, we imagine, very good at making outerwear in breathable materials and light colors, to make this rule easier to live by.


If you're a royal male, whose approval do you need before proposing marriage?

Technically, a prince must have the king or queen's approval to propose marriage. But we imagine that in the 21st century, the young man's own wishes are taken seriously into account. After all, the attempt to keep Prince Charles away from his first love, Camilla Parker Bowles, didn't really work out too well.


Which of these shoe styles did the Queen more-or-less officially ban?

The Queen doesn't like wedge heels; her daughter-in-law Kate loves them. Awkward! Duchess Kate avoids wearing them around the monarch, but has been seen in them away from the palace.


A queen or princess _______ sit with her knees crossed.

It's OK to cross your ankles. But the thighs, knees and calves must remain together. Obviously, this means no "manspreading" as well.


If you are a princess by marriage, like Meghan or Kate, which of these do you NOT have to curtsy to?

Prince Philip, Camilla Parker-Bowles and the "blood princesses" Eugenie and Beatrice are all ahead of Meghan and Kate in the "order of precedence." However, there's an asterisk: if Prince William or Harry is present with his wife, then the blood princesses must curtsy to her, a sign of respect to his rank. (It's confusing, we know).


Which member of the royal family is allowed to wear bright neon hues?

Queen Elizabeth has a reason for those bright tropical hues: she wants to be sure her subjects can see her through thick crowds. It's not actually that common for regular folks to catch sight of the queen, so Elizabeth is actually being courteous here, giving them "bragging rights" that they actually did catch a glimpse of their monarch at a public event.


What kind of clothing must a royal always carry with them on a trip?

This rule has its origins in King George VI's death. Princess Elizabeth was traveling in Africa and didn't have a black dress with her, and had to have one delivered to the plane when she landed in England. Since then, it's been a rule that all royals carry funeral clothing with them on the road.


If you have to leave the dinner table, how do you show wait staff that you have not finished eating?

Crossed utensils mean that the person is coming back to finish eating. Utensils laid side-by-side with the handles at the "four o'clock" position means it is OK to clear.


When descending a staircase, a woman's chin should be ...

The rule is that a woman must have her hands at her sides and her chin parallel to the ground or floor. She may touch the banister, if needed.


True or false: A royal would never eat out of Tupperware.

Former Buckingham Palace chef Darren McGrady, after his employment was up, told the world that even Queen Elizabeth would eat fruit out of Tupperware containers. This was, however, at Balmoral, the royal family's Scottish vacation home.


What does a member of the royal family have to wear on election day, when going to the polls?

Yup, the royals aren't allowed to vote. We imagine that cuts down on those annoying political pamphlets getting hung off the doorknob of Buckingham Palace's front door.


What does a royal wedding bouquet always contain?

Often, the myrtle is taken from a bush grown on one of the royal properties, like the Osborne myrtle in Kate Middleton's bouquet. Sometimes, also, the myrtle sprig is transplanted to grow into a bush of its own.


Who in the royal family can run for political office?

No one in the royal family may stand for election ("stand" is the British way of saying it) or express political opinions in public. It doesn't matter if they only married into the family, or their age.


Which of these books might help a new royal-by-marriage sort out who holds which title?

Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage is the gold standard in British genealogy books. The publisher also does etiquette guides.


Which of these does the Queen use to send signals to her staff?

The Queen uses her bag to discreetly send signals to her staff. If she shifts her purse from her left to her right arm, it means she wishes for one of them to intervene and break off a conversation.


What kind of dog is the Queen particularly fond of?

Really? Has Queen Elizabeth heard about the internet, then? She's going to feel right at home!


Who is responsible for maintaining the Queen's driver's license?

The Queen is the only person in the UK exempt from the law. That said, she doesn't drive herself very often.


Which of these foods are informally banned at Buckingham Palace?

You probably won't be surprised to hear these are all personal preferences of Queen Elizabeth. Garlic seems to be a personal dislike, while pasta and rice might just be too informal for dinners at the palace, British cuisine having favored bread and rolls for a very long time.


What is Queen Elizabeth's favorite breakfast?

That's right, the British monarch likes Corn Flakes for breakfast. Well, when you're a 90-year-old monarch, you can probably eat what you like for breakfast!


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