On May 18, New England royal and former actor Meghan Markle will achieve the pipe dream of a whole host of little girls (and more than a few little boys) by marrying into the British Royal Family. Sure, she had to marry a ginger, but he’s also a combat pilot who seems like a chunk off the old block (the Diana side). Meghan Markle’s nuptials aren’t the end of a fairy tale, however, they’re just the beginning of a life filled with royal duties. If the early reports are any indication, however, this burgeoning royal will make her new responsibilities look effortless. She’s reportedly mastered royal protocol with preternatural quickness and been put to work as a royal face at high profile gatherings. Still, though, this set of rules could make even the most talented socialite stumble.
1. The Post-Engagement Interview
Royal tradition dictates that whenever a pair of hotshot royal people such as Prince Harry and his betrothed decide to get married, they’re obligated to do a TV interview. You know, to do the whole “how we met” thing. Markle knocked this one out of the park, by most accounts, handling questions and telling the couple’s love story with grace.
2. An Invitation From the Queen
Okay, at this point, the Queen of England probably isn’t filling out invitations by hand, especially considering that nearly 2,000 international nobles and celebrities are expected to attend. The invitations do come with the royal postmark, though, so that’s cool.
3. The Myrtle Bouquet
Since Queen Victoria said her vows, every royal bride has carried a sprig of myrtle up the aisle. It’s considered an essential part of tradition; among British royals, myrtle is known as the “herb of love,” which is shocking because I could have sworn “herb of love” was a nickname for an entirely different kind of plant.
4. The Gift Takers
There’s a rule of protocol which states that no matter what gifts the royal family receives, they must accept it. The catch is that Queen Elizabeth gets the final word on who gets to keep what. Fortunately, she just uses that power to hoard all the corgis.
5. There Is No Casual
Sure, Meghan Markle can expect a life filled with gorgeous gowns (and probably her own personal sartorial squad), but the royal family is never allowed to appear slouchy in public. Think of all the times you’ve hit the grocery store after sweating profusely in the gym — that kind of normalcy isn’t allowed when you’re a Windsor.
6. Pretend You Don’t Like Each Other
Thanks to the icy relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip (The Crown, anyone?), royal protocol dictates that public displays of affection be kept to a minimum. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have already proved themselves incapable of following this rule, but there’s no telling how much that will change after the wedding.
7. Keep It Zipped
Members of the royal family are famously apolitical (except for some blonde in the 1980s). That’s a rule: royals aren’t allowed to vote or even sound off on political topics. Meghan Markle may not have to worry too much about participating in British politics, but she’s already proven herself a vocal activist for a variety of causes.
8. No Autographs, Please
Though she might have gotten used to handing out autographs during her run on USA Network’s Suits, Meghan Markle will need to cut that celebrity behavior out, because royals are not allowed to hand out autographs or take pictures with random commoners on the street. She’s above that now, apparently.
9. Better Hope the Queen Is Hungry
When the Queen is present at the table, the meal lasts as long as she says it does. When her fork hits the plate, the meal is over, and everyone else is done eating. Period. It’s a pretty sweet deal if you’re the Queen; not so much if you’re enjoying your meat pudding, or whatever it is British people eat.
10. Okay, Maybe They Don’t Take All Gifts
At one point, the Duke of York Prince Andrew was gifted Monopoly. The Duke quipped that he wasn’t allowed to play the board game at home because it gets, “too vicious.” Oh to be a fly on the wall after a six-hour marathon game of Monopoly when the Queen decides to flip the board in fury.
11. Practice the Curtsy
When Queen Elizabeth walks into the room, the rule of the court is that men lower their head and women curtsy. Kate Middleton has already demonstrated her skill at the old school act of reverence; surely, Meghan Markle will pick it up before too long.
12. Avoid the Shellfish
The royal family is, by and large, instructed to avoid eating shellfish, especially at official functions. It’s an unwritten rule, but it’s important nonetheless because shellfish can cause food poisoning and the family strives to avoid the impression that they function like normal humans.
13. Hands Off, Bud
Though no one knows for sure, it’s been rumored that members of the royal family can’t be touched by anyone outside their family. There was a mild to-do regarding this fact when LeBron James had the audacity to put his arm around Kate Middleton for a publicity photo.
14. Hats Not Optional
Whenever she’s attending a formal function, Meghan Markle will be obligated to wear a hat. God only knows why. After 6 pm, however, royal women attending official functions have to switch to their tiara; provided they’re married, that is. Only married royals get to rock the tiara.
15. The Queen Is a Picky Eater
Rumors abound that Queen Elizabeth II is a bit of a picky eater, which means that Meghan Markle better practice her fake enjoyment face. Reports indicate that Buckingham Palace does not serve any meals with garlic, rice, potatoes, or pasta.
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