Times The Royal Family Broke Protocol

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Being a member of the royal family can possibly be easy. Children have to follow certain protocols and so do the adults. There seem to be rules for everything — even marrying into the British monarchy! Some royals, however, choose to flout these rules. They choose to buck tradition and go with their hearts. Here are 13 times the royal family rebelled and broke royal protocol:

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13. Princess Diana Picked Out Her Own Engagement Ring

Royal engagement rings are usually custom-made, but not Princess Diana’s! She selected her 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire set in 18-karat white gold ring from one of Garrard & Co. Limited’s catalogs. The reason she chose this particular ring was that she wanted a sapphire and she liked this one more than the other half a dozen others she tried on.

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12. Princess Diana Brought Prince William on Tour to Australia

During Princess Diana and Prince Charles six-week tour of Australia and New Zealand, they broke with protocol by bringing nine-month-old William with them. This was done at Diana’s insistence – she didn’t want to be away from William. During Charles’ childhood, his mother, Queen Elizabeth, had no problem traveling without him. When he was one, his mother flew to Malta to spend Christmas with Prince Philip and left Charles with his grandparents. Through much of his infancy, Elizabeth was away from her young son so that she could spend as much time as possible with Philip.


11. Princes Charles Married a Divorcee

The Church of England had a ban on remarriage for a divorced person whose previous spouse is alive. Back in 1936, when King Edward VIII wanted to marry twice-divorced Wallis Simpson, the monarchy and the Church of England were thrown into crisis. He had to abdicate the throne to marry his love. In 1953, when Queen Elizabeth’s younger sister Margaret fell in love with Captain Peter Townsend, who was divorced, she was forced to renounce her love because the Church of England would not permit it. However, times have changed. In 2005, Prince Charles was allowed to marry Camilla Parker Bowles in a civil ceremony, and now Prince Harry is marrying Meghan, who has also been divorced.

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10. Princess Eugenie’s Personal Instagram Account

In an unexpected move, Princess Eugenie, Duchess of York, launched her own personal Instagram account in March 2018. The rest of the young royals including Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince Harry do not have their own social media accounts and instead share their pictures and news on Buckingham Palace’s social media accounts. Prior to announcing her engagement to Prince Harry, Meghan Markle closed all of her social media accounts and intends to use Kensington Palace’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages instead.

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9. Prince William Comforted a Victim of the Grenfell Tower Fire

Prince William ignored royal protocol when he hugged a sobbing Grenfell Tower fire survivor who lost her husband when he got trapped in an elevator while trying to escape the fire. This wasn’t the first time he had been filmed taking on a therapist-style role. Two months prior, he cuddled a grieving mother who lost her baby and her husband within days of each other.

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8. Meghan Markle Signed Autographs

Royals aren’t allowed to sign their autographs. This rule is to prevent their signatures from being forged. Meghan Markle, however, bucked with this tradition and signed 10-year-old Caitlin Clark’s autograph book. She wasn’t the first royal to break this protocol. In 2010, Prince Charles gave his signature to victims of a flood in Cornwall.


7. Princess Diana Sent Her Children to Public School

Prince William was the first royal heir to attend public school. For centuries before this, royals grew up separately from their subjects and were educated privately at home by tutors. It was at Princess Diana’s insistence that Prince William and Prince Harry attended Jane Mynor’s nursery school. William and Kate followed in his mother’s footsteps and has sent both his children – Prince George and Princess Charlotte – to public nursery schools. George attended Westacre Montessori School Nursery while Charlotte is enrolled in Willcocks Nursery School, both of which are in London.


6. Princess Diana Discussed Her Eating Disorder

Princess Diana was very open about her mental health struggles. In the 1992 book Diana: Her True Story by Andrew Morton it was revealed that she had had an eating disorder and then in her 1995 interview with Martin Bashir, she broke with protocol and discussed her battle with bulimia. Her disclosure helped to break down the stigma and normalize the conversation about mental health. More people came forward and admitted that they had an eating disorder thanks to her discussing her struggles. It also inspired Prince William and Kate to devote much of their public life to raising awareness for mental health through their foundation Heads Together.


5. Kate Middleton Hugged Kids During Her Tour of Germany

When it comes to greeting the royal family, women are encouraged to do a small curtsy and men to do a neck bow; however, not everyone greets the younger royals in this way. In 2017, during Prince William and Duchess Kate’s three-day visit to Germany, they went to a children’s charity where Kate was seen giving the kids hugs and high fives. Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Princess Diana first broke with this protocol as she was known for hugging and cuddling children.

Photo by REX/Shutterstock

4. Princess Diana Talked Her Marital Issues with the Press

When it came to her issues in her marriage with Prince Charles, Princess Diana was quite open with the press about them. She gave interviews about her and Charles’ marital problems for Andrew Morton’s book and then gave a really revealing interview to Martin Bashir in 1995. With the book and the interview, she was trying to taking control of her narrative. In response to the interview, Queen Elizabeth sent both Prince Charles and Diana letters advising them to divorce.

(AP Photo/Eduardo Di Baia, File)

3. Meghan Markle Discussed Politics

Royals aren’t permitted to discuss politics. At the 2018 BAFTAs, Kate Middleton avoided making a political statement and chose to wear a dark green gown with a black ribbon instead of a black dress to show solidarity with the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. Meghan Markle, however, chose to make a statement about the movements during the first annual forum for the Royal Foundation. “Women don’t need to find a voice,” she said. “They have a voice. They need to feel empowered to use it, and people need to be encouraged to listen.” She also stressed how important Time’s Up and #MeToo are. “We’re seeing so many campaigns – #MeToo, and Time’s Up. There is no better time than to really continue to shine a light on women feeling empowered and people really helping to support them, men included in that,” Markle said. “It makes such a tremendous difference.”

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2. Princess Diana Gave Birth in a Hospital instead of the Palace

Prince William was the first heir to the throne to be born in a hospital instead of inside a palace. He was born at St. Mary’s in Paddington, London. Two years later, his brother Harry was born at the same hospital. She was also the first mother in the royal family to breastfeed. Prince William and Kate Middleton followed in her footsteps. All of their children have been born in the same hospital and she also breastfed her children.

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1. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Displays of Affection

In the royal family, couples have to abide by a strict set of protocols. Prince William and Kate Middleton are rarely seen engaging in any PDA, but not Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. They hold hands all the time when they’re doing official appearances and have no issues showing the world just how in love they are.

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Cate has a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature and has been the Managing Editor of Fame10 for more than 6 years. Despite having a love for the works of Thomas Hardy, Leo Tolstoy and Lord Byron, she also has an intense fascination with pop culture. When she isn’t writing for Fame10, she’s planning her next big adventure in Southeast Asia.