It's not easy being a member of the British royal family. Apart from the whole business of governing the empire, there are loads of rules of protocol the royals have to follow in order to maintain their dignity and their standing within the family. From wardrobe to table etiquette to PDA, there's barely a moment in the day when a prince or duchess doesn't have to be keenly aware of putting their best foot forward. Some of them seem a little over-the-top to us commoners across the pond, but others are actually ones we can get behind in our own lives.
Some of the royal rules are ones that our own moms tried to instill in us, such as the proper way to hold utensils at mealtime (knife in right, fork in left; lay them side-by-side on your plate when you're done). Others are more specific to the family and have a practical explanation. For instance, according to Harper's Bazaar, they don't serve shellfish at royal meals, since it's more likely to cause food poisoning than other dishes. The royals always carry a black outfit while traveling in case they need to attend a funeral unexpectedly, and they're forbidden to talk about politics publicly (although one can only imagine what they say about it in private).
Here are some of the royal rules that we could easily appropriate into our own lives. Put on your fascinator and read on:
Always look your best.
You'll never see a royal set foot in public wearing sweats or a skirt with a taped-up hem. From the Queen herself down to little Prince Louis, every member of the royal family is always impeccably dressed: stylish, modest, and appropriate to the occasion. Duchess Kate deserves some kind of award for stepping out of the hospital just hours after the birth of each of her three children, each time looking as though she'd never been in labor.
Wear more hats.
Speaking of wardrobe, the royals' strict adherence to their rule about wearing hats to formal events, per Marie Claire, is one we should really consider adopting more often over on this side of the pond. We sometimes make exceptions for Derby Day, true, but there's just something about a fascinator that's, well... fascinating.
Don't be too competitive.
Of all the pastimes the royal family enjoys, playing Monopoly isn't among them. Prince Andrew once confessed that the property-acquiring game is forbidden at the Palace because "it gets too vicious," reported The Telegraph. That's a good policy to follow at home, too. We can teach our children how to win and lose graciously, but when someone starts gloating too much about the Uno rounds they've won, that's the cue to call it quits for the day.
Be attentive to everyone around you.
It's said that etiquette is the art of making other people feel comfortable, and the Queen is a master of this (as well she should be). During dinner parties, she reportedly makes conversation with the person to her right, then talks with the person on her left during the second course, according to Marie Claire. We should all be as courteous to the people around us; next time you're at a party, how about saying hi to the person looking lost and shy in the corner?
Find special ways to honor your family.
The royals often pay tribute to beloved family members or ancestors through their choice of clothes, accessories, and other belongings. When Kate Middleton appeared for her first post-birth portrait after Prince George's birth, she gave a sweet nod to her late mother-in-law by wearing a dress similar to the one Princess Diana wore when she stepped out with Prince William, reported Reader's Digest. You can do the same by wearing your dad's favorite color on his birthday, or wearing your grandmother's earrings to a special occasion.
Respect the national anthem.
Ever been guilty of letting out a cheer at the ball game when the singer gets to the "land of the free" lyric? That would never fly at Buckingham Palace. In fact, President Obama reportedly took heat in 2011 at a royal banquet for trying to speak while "God Save the Queen" was playing, according to The Telegraph. He was only offering a toast to Her Majesty, but in royal circles, silence during the anthem is the correct protocol.
Accept gifts graciously.
Next time you get a too-small sweater from your in-laws or a canned ham at Christmas from your boss, take a cue from the royals and react as though you'd just been given tickets to a Broadway show. The family has been gifted everything from exotic animals to a box of mangoes during their travels, and they're required to accept everything they're given, unless there's an implication that this would obligate them to the donor. Gratitude is always a welcome attitude, and when we show our thankfulness, we set a good example for our kids, too.
Skip the selfies.
You'll never see a Harry-and-Meghan selfie on the Royal Family's official Twitter account. When chatting with fans on her way to a charity fair for World AIDS Day in 2017, Markle reportedly told a couple, "We're not allowed to do selfies," according to Insider. It's a strategy some of us would be smart to adopt; sometimes we get so caught up in trying to capture and post the moment that we forget to enjoy the moment itself.
Open Christmas gifts early.
This would be a no-brainer for your kids, for sure! This December, consider doing as the Palace does: The royal family opens their presents on Christmas Eve, according to Reader's Digest, a tradition that comes from Germany. It's also a practical move, since it gives the family more time to attend church services on Christmas Day and then gather for their holiday meal. Getting the excitement over with early can free you up to focus on the truly important parts of the holiday.
Know when to break the rules.
Although the royal family is steeped in protocol, they also know that there are some occasions when humanity takes precedence over strict rule-following. Case in point: After a devastating fire in London's Grenfell Tower took the lives of 58 residents, Prince William ignored the rules about being too personal with commoners when he hugged a woman who had lost her husband to the inferno. His compassion touched hearts worldwide, and served as a reminder that we, too, can put empathy first.