14 Etiquette Rules Everyone in the Royal Family Must Follow

From the way you eat to the way you walk down a flight of stairs, here’s what it takes to have the manners of a royal.

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Kate Middleton
Photo: Rex/Shutterstock

Sit like a royal

One of the worst things a woman in the royal family can do—as far as etiquette rules go—is sit with her legs crossed at the knee. Legs and knees must be kept together, although crossing at the ankle is fine. One popular pose is called “the duchess slant,” coined by Beaumont Etiquette and named for the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. Her go-to sitting position involves keeping her knees and ankles tightly together and slanting her legs to the side. It keeps her posture modest and makes her legs appear longer. In fact, the late Princess Diana was known to sit the exact same way.

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Kate Middleton and Prince William
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Make your curtsy subtle

Royal curtsies don’t need to reach the floor; simply put one leg behind the other, bend your knees, and bow your head slightly. However, deeper curtsies and long pauses are a sign of respect and formality, for instance, when meeting Queen Elizabeth II.

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Queen Elizabeth smiling
Photo: Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Dress appropriately

The royals have a knack for being fashionable. Princess Diana’s fashion sense was functional but classy, one that many women still copy today. The Queen famously wears neon outfits on more occasions than not. Kate Middleton loves different patterns and textures. Yet they all have one thing in common: They dress modestly and for the occasion.

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Kate Middleton
Photo: Rex/Shutterstock

Cover up cleavage

While Queen Elizabeth’s purse is used to send messages to her staff, Princess Diana’s had a different purpose. When she exited a vehicle, she always put a clutch to her chest so she wouldn’t show too much cleavage and give paparazzi the chance at a compromising photo.

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Kate Middleton
Photo: Tim Rooke/Rex/Shutterstock

Follow tiara protocol

Tiara fashion has changed over the years. In the past, it was worn fairly far forward on one’s head, but the modern style is to wear it farther back, Forbes reports. It should be at a 45 degree angle when viewed from the side. In addition, tiaras are a must for a royal bride’s wedding day. Though that tiara would be from the bride’s family, tradition says that from that point on, she would be expected to wear the groom’s jewelry as a sign that she was now part of his family. However, this custom has fallen by the wayside. The last time it happened was when Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles.

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Monopoly board game
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Never, ever play Monopoly

Yes, as in the classic board game. In 2008, the Leeds Building Society gave Prince Andrew (the Duke of York and Queen Elizabeth’s third child) the game as a gift, but he responded, “We’re not allowed to play Monopoly at home. It gets too vicious.” Which leaves us and the entire world with so many questions about how competitive the royal family really is.

Here are 8 Words You Will Never, Ever Hear the Royal Family Say.

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Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip
Photo: Ross McDairmant Photography/Shutterstock

Enter the room in order

When the royal family is part of a procession, they enter and are seated in the order of precedence, which is essentially the order of who’s next in line to the throne. The order is Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh (Prince Philip, Her Majesty’s husband), the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall (Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla), the Prince and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Kate Middleton), and so on.

Plus: Queen Elizabeth’s Top 10 Canadian Milestones

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Kate Middleton drinking tea
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Hold teacups properly

The royals love their tea time, etiquette expert Myka Meier told PEOPLE. So it’s especially important that they hold their cups correctly. They use their thumb and index finger to hold the top of the handle, while the middle finger supports the bottom. They also sip from the same spot so the entire rim doesn’t have lipstick stains. If you’re more of a coffee drinker, protocol is to loop your index finger through the handle. And when in doubt, NO pinkies out. That’s too pretentious, even for royals.

Find out What Really Happened When Jackie Kennedy Met Queen Elizabeth.

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Eating English breakfast
Photo: Alexey Khakimov/Shutterstock

Hold utensils in the correct hands

You may not put much thought into how you cut your food, but the royal family takes dining etiquette very seriously. They hold knives in their right hand and forks in their left with the tines facing down. Instead of stabbing their food, they balance food on back of their forks, then bring it to their mouth. Sure, it’s proper, but it sounds like it turns eating into an acrobatic feat.

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Friends of Royal Family
Photo: Antti Aimo Koivisto/Shutterstock

Leave the table without a fuss

If royals need to use the restroom during a meal, they don’t announce their intentions. They simply say, “Excuse me,” and leave it at that. (That’s also the phrase every parent should teach their child.) If they’re not done eating, they cross the utensils so wait staff know not to take the plate. When finished with the meal, they place utensils at an angle, putting the handles at the bottom right of the plate (like 4:20 on a clock).

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Napkins folded in half
Photo: Emily Ranquist/Shutterstock

Fold napkins in half

This rule is for keeping face, specifically a clean one. When they wipe their face and hands at the table, they do so inside the fold so their clothes don’t get dirty.

Plus: Here’s Why Queen Elizabeth Celebrates Two Birthdays Every Year

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Kate Middleton shaking hands
Photo: Alan Davidson/Silverhub/Shutterstock

Shake hands

They say your handshake reveals a lot about your personality. So if you want to act royal, here’s the breakdown of the official (kind of) royal handshake: Keep direct eye contact with the person in front of you, grasp their hand firmly but not painfully, shake for one or two pumps (no more!), and shine a royal smile.

Find out The Real Reason Queen Elizabeth Has Owned So Many Corgis.

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Queen Elizabeth II walking down the stairs
Photo: Rotello/MCP/Shutterstock

Descend stairs gracefully

Men in the royal family put out a helping hand when their spouses go down a flight of stairs, especially at formal events. The women keep their chins parallel to the ground and hands at their sides. If there’s a banister, they rest a hand on it (rather than grab it) and keep their toes pointed toward the railing while they walk.

Plus: This is Why Prince William and Kate Middleton Never Show PDA

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Mussels in white wine
Photo: Shutterstock

Skip the shellfish

This is an ancient tradition that royals have followed to avoid food poisoning. Queen Elizabeth still adheres to the rule, but the current royal family isn’t required to.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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