Members of the British Royal Family enjoy unimaginable wealth and access to rare perks, such as art, castles, and even the Crown Jewels, according to Money, with the royal family’s net worth totaling at least $1.1 billion. However, with the benefits come challenges and scrutiny, as even Queen Elizabeth II herself has admitted.
Because royals are placed under a media microscope, with seemingly every move covered by British tabloids, royals take care to strictly uphold their image. Broadcaster Sir David Attenborough reportedly once said of the royal family, according to Express, “The whole institution depends on mystique and the tribal chief in his hut,” allegedly adding, “If any member of the tribe ever sees inside the hut, then the whole system of the tribal chiefdom is damaged and the tribe eventually disintegrates.” Despite the royals being human with normal desires, habits, and foibles, to keep up the mystery and majesty, they must hide some of their less regal habits from the public. These are things all royals do, but probably would never admit to.
Even royals get starstruck by their favorite celebrities
While it’s hard to imagine, even royals occasionally get excited meeting their favorite celebrities. When Duchess Kate Middleton, who’s had a stunning transformation over the years, starred in chef Mary Berry’s A Berry Royal Christmas on BBC, Kate confessed her nerves to Berry, according to The Sun. Berry recalled, “I promise you Catherine said ‘I’m nervous’ and I said ‘what do you think I am!'” Kate is reportedly such a fan that one of Prince Louis’ first words was “Mary,” due to all her cookbooks in the Cambridge family’s kitchen, as Berry shared.
Young Prince William also once met a couple of famous women who’ve served as crushes for many over the years. His mother, Princess Diana, whom we learned a lot of shocking things about following her passing, arranged for supermodels Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington to meet him, according to the Independent. “I was probably a 12 or 13-year-old boy who had posters of them on his wall,” he shared in the ITV documentary Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy. Upon meeting the models, William reacted with embarrassment, recalling, “I went bright red and didn’t know quite what to say. And sort of fumbled and I think pretty much fell down the stairs on the way up.” William admitted that the memory would stay with him all his life. Who could blame him? Crawford, Campbell, and Turlington are some of the most beautiful supermodels in the world!
When they're not at state banquets, royals sometimes eat TV dinners
Royalty is practically synonymous with insanely lavish state banquets, involving ornate floral arrangements, copious amounts of glittering jewels, and guests lists with prestigious leaders, according to Town & Country — but, in their downtime, royals have some surprising dining habits.
In the documentary Secrets of the Royal Kitchen, detailing royal life at Windsor, royal biographer Lady Colin Campbell divulged that the Queen forgoes extravagant dinners at home and likes to eat dinner on a TV tray while watching television, according to Express. “She likes it,” Campbell said. “It’s homely and cozy and it’s comfortable.”
Queen Elizabeth isn’t the only royal fond of a TV dinner. In an interview with Food & Wine, Darren McGrady, a former Buckingham Palace chef and author of The Royal Chef at Home, shared that Princess Diana allowed sons Prince William and Prince Harry to take their dinners in front of the TV against the wishes of their nanny. “Nanny used to fume about it,” McGrady recalled.
Royals sometimes fly in economy
In 2019, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan Markle came under fire for taking four private jets in 11 days, according to The Sun. This was around the same time Harry launched his sustainable travel initiative Travalyst, as noted by Time. However, despite the furor, Harry and Meghan had previously been spotted flying economy class together to Nice, according to The Telegraph.
But Harry and Meghan aren’t the only royals secretly getting clever with flights. In 2019, Prince William and Kate Middleton, who live an insanely lavish life, took a budget flight to Scotland, according to the Daily Mail. Princess Diana was also known for secret economy class getaways. “The royal family have been using cheap airlines for years,” said Robert Jobson, author of royal biographies, as reported by the Daily Mail. “Princess Diana would do it frequently.”
In fact, according to Vogue, the royals have “two identities”: They’re both public figures and private citizens, and they alter their travel accordingly to strike that delicate balance. Still, when Harry and William were spotted during a layover at O’Hare Airport eating nachos and hot wings en route to Memphis for a friend’s wedding, according to the Chicago Tribune, we imagine the Queen may not have (officially, at least) approved.
Royals binge-watch Netflix shows just like the rest of us
Think royals don’t relax in front of the TV? Think again. Prince William likes Killing Eve, Kate Middleton is a fan of Strictly Come Dancing, and the Queen enjoyed Downton Abbey, according to Hello! magazine.
However, one show neither William nor his grandfather Prince Philip would admit to liking is Netflix’s The Crown. When asked if he watched it, according to The Guardian, Prince Philip reportedly replied, “Don’t. Be. Ridiculous.” And when Olivia Coleman, who played the Queen, personally asked William if he watched the show, she shared on The Graham Norton Show, according to Oprah, “His answer was a firm, ‘no.'”
But it’s possible the royals are embarrassed to publicly admit their viewing habits. According to Harper’s Bazaar, actress Vanessa Kirby, who plays Princess Margaret on The Crown, revealed she’d heard the Queen might be a fan. “A friend of mine was at a party and didn’t know anyone, so he sidled up to this group who were talking about The Crown,” Kirby said. “One girl said, ‘Well, my granny watches it and really likes it.'” That girl and her granny? Princess Eugenie and the Queen herself.
Even royals embarrass themselves in front of their crushes
Before his engagement to Kate Middleton, Prince William was considered a highly eligible bachelor and the hottest young royal in the world, according to Forbes. As the future king, it’s no wonder that William was so desirable — which makes his slight bumbling when he met Kate Middleton all the more adorable.
When William and Kate met at the University of St. Andrews, they lived in the same residence halls and attended some of the same classes, according to Marie Claire. Although their meeting had a fairy tale ending with their 2011 wedding (via BBC News), the first time they met, William was hardly smooth. When interviewed for the Sky TV documentary William & Kate: Too Good To Be True?, royal memoirist Tom Quinn recounted William’s awkwardness, as reported by The Mirror. “One of the funny stories is he was so desperate to meet her that as he walked towards her, he apparently tripped and said, ‘Oh that’s a terrible start, you’re going to think I’m a complete clot,'” Quinn said.
Royals must take royalty lessons
When Meghan Markle married Prince Harry, becoming HRH The Duchess of Sussex, she had to learn more than how to fit into a new family. According to the Observer, Meghan learned how to curtsey and hold cutlery properly. The curtsey was especially critical, as “it is a sign of respect in the UK,” royal etiquette expert Myka Meier shared. But don’t expect to see Meghan’s royalty tutor writing a tell-all book. According to Meier, “All training for the royal family is done internally.”
Reporter Ashley Pearson revealed in the documentary Kate Middleton: Working Class to Windsor (via Marie Claire) that Kate Middleton was also given lessons on how to sit, to whom to curtsy, and more — and by the Queen herself. “She was actually given lessons on how to be a royal wife,” Pearson said.
Newcomers marrying into the British royal family are not the only ones expected to take royalty lessons. When Daniel Westling married Swedish Crown Princess Victoria, according to The Telegraph, he took lessons on Swedish history and political science.
Royals complain about politicians (but must do so in secret)
Whether liberal, conservative, or somewhere in between, whatever your political opinion might be as a royal, you must keep it secret. As a royal, you’re expected not to express your political opinions, with neutrality being key, according to the official Royal Household website.
As a result, when a member of the royal family expresses what they actually think, it’s headline news — such as when Prince Harry was tricked over the phone by pranksters, who pretended to be Greta Thunberg and her father, into revealing his thoughts on everybody from Donald Trump to Boris Johnson, according to The Sun. While Harry insulted Trump, he had some warm words for Johnson, calling him “a good man.”
Indeed, when the Queen gave a speech simply calling for “respecting different points of view; coming together to seek out the common ground; and never losing sight of the bigger picture,” the press read into it as a rare political nod toward the contentious Brexit negotiations, including a New York Times headline asking, “Did the Queen Just Weigh in on Brexit?”
Royals take selfies… even though they're not supposed to
A selfie with a member of the royal family might be exciting for your Instagram account, but it’s a rarity. According to Hello! magazine, selfies are frowned upon. Prince Harry has even been quoted saying, “I hate selfies,” adding, “Just take a normal photograph!”
However, despite the Queen disliking the trend and saying she finds selfies “disconcerting” and “strange,” according to Hello!, other royals have embraced the pictures. When Prince William was approached by a 12-year-old girl on Christmas Day at Sandringham, according to Hello!, he willingly obliged and took a photo with her. Not only did William pose for the photo but he actually snapped the photo himself, leaving the schoolgirl stunned and delighted. “I couldn’t believe it when William came over to me,” she said. William even endorsed the practice, saying, “You can’t beat a good selfie on Christmas Day.” We wonder what the Queen would think about that.
Even royals have to dye their gray hair
Part of being royal is always looking put together. However, despite the attempts to maintain an illusion of perfection, even royals get gray hair. They’re human, after all! In 2015, Kate Middleton was photographed with gray hair, as reported by the Daily Mail. Fortunately, some outlets were supportive of Kate, shaming those who would call out a mother in her 30s for the normal aging process, according to The Guardian. However, Kate presumably feels insecure about her gray hair, since, after photos of her grays were previously published in 2013, she reportedly booked an “emergency appointment” with her salon.
Meghan Markle has also been spotted with gray hair. In 2018, the rare sight of a single gray hair on Meghan’s head was enough to inspire a Marie Claire article — which declared the sight “magnificent.” However, there was also accompanying backlash, according to Today. Fortunately later on, when Meghan appeared with gray hair while reading to son Archie in 2020, The Telegraph declared her look “happy and relaxed.”
One thing is certain: Grays or no grays, royal women are overly scrutinized for their beauty choices.
Royals have secret social media accounts
When news broke in 2016 that Meghan Markle was dating Prince Harry, sleuths found her personal Instagram, according to Vanity Fair. However, according to the Independent, a few months before marrying Harry, she deleted her social media profiles. “Flattery and criticism run through the same filter,” Meghan is reported to have once said of her stepping back from social media at the time, according to Daily Mail.
While some members of the royal family do have official and verified public social media accounts, according to PopSugar — including the Queen, as well as Prince William and Kate Middleton — it was revealed that Harry had been hiding a secret account for years. According to The Telegraph, Harry may have had the pseudonym Spike Wells for four years across various platforms.
Meanwhile, Princess Beatrice’s secret Instagram account was revealed by model Karlie Kloss when she got engaged, according to Harper’s Bazaar. The account is private and unverified, despite her sister — Princess Eugenie, who’s had a stunning transformation — having a public, verified Instagram. What are the royals getting up to on their secret social media accounts? We can only imagine.
Royals take public transportation sometimes
It’s hard to imagine hopping on the Tube and running into Princess Anne, but that’s exactly what once happened to riders in London. According to the Daily Mail, Anne was on her way to an appointment during London Fashion Week when she decided to use public transportation, taking the Tube from Green Park to St Paul’s. An employee who spotted the royal said, “She came through with another older woman and her security. We weren’t expecting any royalty. Hardly anybody seemed to notice them.”
Incredibly, Anne isn’t the only royal who has popped on public transport. The Queen herself takes a train from London Kings Cross to King’s Lynn station for her yearly Christmas vacation at Sandringham, as reported by Hello! magazine. And in her youth, the Queen would sometimes take the Tube with nanny Marion Crawford and sister Princess Margaret, according to Vogue.
Even Princess Diana used to enjoy secretly taking the Tube with Princes William and Harry. In the Evening Standard, her personal protection officer Ken Wharfe revealed she saw the rare moments they went unnoticed as “major victories.”
Royals still have to use public restrooms
With members of the royal family carrying out over 2,000 engagements each year, according to the official Royal Household website, it’s only natural that, ahem, nature will call at some point. However, unlike the public, royals are subject to rules and protocol when needing to use the restroom, according to the Mirror. Apparently, when a royal is in the company of others and needs to use the lavatory, instead of announcing it, they must simply say “excuse me” and leave.
The Queen has her own set of protocols, according to The Telegraph. Gordon Rayner, a journalist who has been on multiple tours with Queen Elizabeth II, revealed that senior officials in visiting countries “tie themselves in knots” when planning out toilet arrangements. “Hosts spend more time worrying about the loo arrangements than anything else, down to what colour the towels should be and whether the loo roll is a suitable brand,” Rayner wrote.
Royals live with their partners before marriage
While it used to be taboo for royal couples to live together before getting married (via Entertainment Tonight), there are several royal couples in recent years who have flouted that rule. Not only did Prince William and Kate Middleton live together with friends while studying at St. Andrews University in Scotland, according to Hello!, but they also lived together before their wedding, as noted by Elle. So unconventional was the decision at the time that the Archbishop of York weighed in, according to The Telegraph, commenting that many young couples “want to test the milk before they buy the cow.”
Several years later, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made a similar decision to live together before getting married, with Meghan moving into Harry’s digs at Kensington Palace, Nottingham Cottage, according to Town & Country. On the Kensington Palace grounds, close to William and Kate, Harry and Meghan were also neighbors with another royal couple pairing up before marriage: Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank.
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